Five years later, the Rolling Stones brought their Voodoo Lounge tour to Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. This wasn’t your typical Stones concert (if there even is such a thing). This was going to be broadcast, and the addition of film crews and guest performers complicated what was a practiced, though still mammoth, operation. An extra day for rehearsals was added to the schedule, and that day, too, happened to be Thanksgiving.
Some of the crew had flown their families to Florida for the holiday. For the Americans on the tour, it was the closest they could come to being home. Just as Rod Stewart’s kedgeree provided a taste of home to the English, the turkey and stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie would give the Stones’ American contingent the fuel to soldier on for months to come. Tour management wanted there to be a proper Thanksgiving dinner. It would be a time for the tour to come together as a community.
Painting: Clifford Bailey/www.cliffordbailey.com
The band would be there. Bo Diddley would be there. Keith’s mum would be there. And the roughly 300 crew working that Thursday would be there. The Stones marshaled resources unthinkable for nearly any other act in the service of creating a memorable event that night. The Love Company, known for its installation work on Miami’s raging club scene, and painter Clifford Bailey came in to transform the Brutalist stadium concourse into a warm, inviting space. The towering concrete columns were draped in fabric. Photographs of Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, and other great American bluesmen—so inspirational to the band—were projected on giant screens overhead. Bailey’s canvases of musicians in ecstatic performance filled in the gaps. There was, naturally, the lips-and-tongue logo, carved in ice. The vast swamp of the Everglades could be seen spilling to the horizon, the absence of landmarks making the stadium feel almost like a ship at sea.
The Stones, often a spectral presence backstage, mingled with the crew and their families. Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards ambled through the dining area, garrulous and warm, patriarchs of this vagabond family. Wood, a noted painter in his own right, spent time watching Bailey complete a canvas of the band in action. After dinner, the crew worked diligently to make sure everything would be ready for the global audience of millions who would be watching the show the next night.
The band rehearsed “Live With Me” with Sheryl Crow, who was making the first of what would be many appearances with the legends. Bo Diddley romped through “Who Do You Love?” in defiance of the traditional post-Thanksgiving-dinner lassitude. A few of the crew’s children chased spotlight beams across the empty stadium field, while Mick and Keith, alone and acoustic, played “Wild Horses.”
For this traveling army, this night on the edge of the Everglades transcended the dislocation endemic to touring life. Full bellies, family, and a warm Florida night.
A person could dine out for a lifetime on stories gathered from an outing with any of these legends. There will, of course, be tales of exhaustion and exploration. Dig deeper, though, past the Domino’s, and you just might strike kedgeree.
Slightly too inspired by a Kiss concert he attended for his eighth birthday, Matthew Kronsberg went on to spend a decade in the concert industry, working with artists from Tony Bennett to U2. He is now a producer and writer living in Brooklyn, New York.