Used to be a time when sharing the magical chaos of the great unknown with 65,000 other like minded was eagerly anticipated by me. Breaking down and processing the shambolic uncertainty of it all, watching and dissecting as another glorious happening took shape. A Stones show. A general admission, never garden variety Rolling Stones stadium show.
Halloween evening 1981 at The Cotton Bowl in Dallas was a rainy prime example of such an occasion. This was in the days of the band still doing late afternoon/evening sets, if the gig was outside, hittin' the stage long before sundown. Massive lighting rigs became a hip priority soon after, lighting directors convincing groups of the importance of having a stunning light show to go along with the music. There was no sun to go down this day however. As overcast and threatening as a Halloween evening could be scripted out to be. Mick did mention at one point that "Aaww.....it looks like we're gonna get f***kin' wet......." That happened. Intense pouring wetness. Hallelujah for wireless guitars and microphones.
The start of the 80's was when management of bands began in a very hard core manner to control their image, searching and preventing concert attendees from coming into shows with cameras. I trusted a stranger, a pretty young girl I did not know, and handed her my camera body and 200 mm zoom through a fence so I wouldn't have a guilty pat down. Relieved to see that she waited for me to get through security, and for her price of a Cotton Bowl beer, a successful entrance into Stones world was had, ultimately getting down and securing my place to witness the boys from fairly close range, about 30 yards from the stage.
That 30 yards was close enough to capture what a 200 mm lens can capture through the heads and hands of a general admission crowd. A guy tripping his brains out standing near offered to get down on all fours while I climbed on his back and shot for a few minutes above the fray. The acid made him more steady than he probably would've been otherwise. I was able to get a handful of moments. Interesting, drenching, happening Rolling Stones moments. I thanked the tripping man, eventually losing his phone number he gave me to get in touch and maybe provide some prints. I give thanks to him and his tabled back again......and to magical chaos...... and to Mick and Keith for knowing how to throw a party in the rain.
Ronnie Wood was coming to town. He was coming in to play a rock & roll gig at the Austin Opera House, and since Ronnie Lane was a resident of Austin at that time, it stood to reason and we knew that Lane was gonna come around for his ol' Faces bandmate and runnin' buddy's show and join Woody onstage for a song or two.
Ronnie Lane had come to Texas some time before to get treatment for the Multiple Sclerosis he suffered from, landing in Austin eventually. I got to know the man a bit, through the familiarity of the South Austin music scene, his sitting in with the band The Keepers, and through guitar luthier and friend Gil Baldwin. While hanging out getting stoned and watching Gil make guitars, Ronnie stopped by a couple of times, to get stoned and watch Gil make guitars. All the while regaling us with the tales of Lane. Tales that were never uninteresting and always leaving me curious to hear more.
So, during Woody's show, Ronnie was wheeled out towards the end of the set, as we knew would happen. I fired off some frames....... this was one of those click, I got one moments. One of those feelings. The love of two close old friends sharing a stage together again is undeniably evident. Quite a sight during quite a night. Through friends and friends of friends of Ronnie Wood, I tried a couple of different times to get this image into his hands. I've never found out for sure if indeed he has ever laid his eyes on this. As for Ronnie Lane, I didn't personally hand him this photo either, but he may have seen it, as I printed a copy or two for some folks that orbited Ronnie's circle. If he did, I hope this shot became a paragraph of recollection when Ronnie regaled others with his tales of Lane. In any case, it sure made for a good short story on this end.