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Arts and Entertainment

Playhouse Square hosts Rolling Stones Music Masters concert
Sidemen who helped shape the Stones' sound in the '70s and '80s are in town for a tribute concert to wrap up Music Masters Week

Kabir Bhatia
Steve Jordan, Ian McLagan, Steve Madaio and Bobby Keys (left to right) have toured and recorded in various configurations with the Rolling Stones since the 1970s; they form the nucleus of the Music Masters concert at the State Theater on Saturday night
Courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 18th annual Music Masters Week culminates in a concert Saturday night honoring The Rolling Stones. And many of the Stones’ collaborators will pack the State Theater to pay tribute to what many consider the greatest rock and roll band in the world. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.
Playhouse Square hosts Rolling Stones tribute concert

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Long, tall Texan Bobby Keys was plucked from session-man obscurity to play with the Stones in the late ‘60s. Their legendary 1972 tour brought them to the Rubber Bowl. Keys’ memory of that show is short and to the point.

“I remember it very well, because it had the biggest tire I’d ever seen in my life outside that stadium.”

If his memories aren’t what they should be, blame the legendary and well-chronicled fringe benefits the band enjoyed in the ‘70s. Their excesses were even chronicled in an unreleased film that circulates among collectors.

“Doing things on the road, sometimes you get stuck with stuff. I played saxophone for a long time, but more Rolling Stones fans come up to me and say, ‘You’re the one who threw the TV set out the window.’ Well, yeah, but I also did this, that and the other.”

Music Masters
Keys is one of nearly two-dozen musicians helping to memorialize the Rolling Stones during this 50th anniversary celebration. It’s part of the Music Masters conference, which each year puts an artist’s work in musical and societal perspective. Saxman Keys will be on stage with 2012 Rock Hall inductee Ian McLagan.

The keyboardist was inducted as part of The Small Faces and its later incarnation, The Faces. After that group broke up, he followed bandmate Ron Wood into the Stones’ camp, recording with them in the ‘70s, and then touring with them as a last-minute replacement in the early ‘80s. 

A weekend that changed things
“I think it was Keith called me up and said why don’t you come over for the weekend. So I went over on the 6th of June, and we were on stage on the 8th. And I never looked back.”

McLagan and Keys helped the Stones supercharge their British blues sound for the 1970s. For the 1980s, the band brought in Steve Jordan to add a modern R&B touch to their increasingly eclectic albums. 

Jordan had played on solo projects with Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards.

Hearing more than the guitar
“He’s the driving force. He hears a lot of stuff. He doesn’t just hear the guitar. He hears the bass parts. Some of my favorite Stones records, he’s playing everything. 'Jumpin’ Jack Flash' [and] 'Street Fighting Man,' he’s playing everything. But the one thing he can’t do is play the drums. He cannot play two beats in a row, which is great for me; it’s job security.”

The Rock Hall has been hosting a 50th Anniversary exhibit on the Stones since May, and many of the people who shaped or were influenced by their sound will be at the State Theater show. They include Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band, Chuck D of Public Enemy and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum.
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