An open letter to Mick and Keef,



Dear Mick and Keef,


In some ways it’s good to have you back, especially as you have bothered to release a classic single this time. A single full of the dark stuff and grimy stink that, laced with that killer riff and sneering vocal, sits easily in the Stones canyon.


I’ve never been one of the doubters. You know, one of those people who sneered at you because you were old. People have you been calling you old since you were young which must be a bit confusing. They were throwing the OAP card at you once you reached mighty age of 30 and yet you still carried on. Every time you came back you looked craggier and weirder which is a good thing! You took rock n roll into outer regions of age and proved it could be done.


Your records may have got less and less interesting after the early seventies but let’s face it who can keep up the flow of classics for ever but the clank and grind of the twin guitars and Keef’s insistence on the roll with the rock made you consistently great live and I’ve never seen you play a bad show even in those enormodromes where the life gets drained out of rock n roll. Keef’s book was great even if it did labour the point about Mick a bit too often and there is something about your crevassed faces peering out of the decades that is pretty empowering.


You have become though, as you once sang, respectable. Mick is a sir and Keef has been knighted by the music media, perceived as some kind of wild pirate whose swagger epitomizes rock n roll and a setter of the template for endless bands since then who want to play at pirates.


All this is fine but what I’m writing to you about is the ticket prices for your gigs which are really rubbing people’s faces in it. I doubt from the vantage point of a tropical island tax haven you will have noticed the recession yet but people, even your fans, are seriously broke out here and need to be cut a bit of slack.


You may not have noticed the backlash against greedy bankers and the rest of the establishment with their paws in the honey pot so I thought I had better tell you. People are getting pissed off out here and there are dark mutterings about greedy rock stars which is ironic because you were once seen as the vanguard of the counter culture that stood up against the establishment. Of course we now realise the counter culture was just a marketing term and you were as greedy, if not more greedy, than the people you once pretended to oppose as street fighting men.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that rock n roll was ever altruistic but there must be a limit to how much money you and the rest of the sixties dreamers can cram into your bank accounts. And I’m not claiming to be perfect here, I’m as greedy as the next person but c’mon even satanic majesties must have a limit!An open letter to Mick and Keef


I’m not writing to you asking you to give up all your wealth, god knows as a musician I know some of the money is well earned in this filthy business but surely you must have plenty by now! And stop skulking away Keef we are not fooled by your sozzled old pirate act, you know as much as Mick about all of this.


Perhaps there will come a point in your career when you put something back. Not like U2 or those charity millionaires- the Stones doing charity is an ugly thought. It doesn’t even need a grand gesture, just a bit of care and maybe cheaper ticket prices- afterall if you think rock n roll is about playing to an arena full of bankers waving bottles of champagne around you really need to get back in touch with reality.


I still love a lot of your records and your aura of invincible cool but a touch of reality would go a long way gentlemen.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. There’s no limit to greed, so don’t bother asking. Ticket prices are obscene. This appeals in particular to the Rolling Stones, who embrace that decadence factor. It’s part of their shtick, now and for a long time.
    Make your own music John, and make it loud.

  2. I will love the stones forever, but your ticket prices getting outrageous. Men of wealth and taste should appreciate the following of fans, than for close to fifty years have made you the Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band in the World. Give us a chance to see you, hear you and love you from up close one last time. Let the greedy Ticketmaster and their cousins know that your fans are more important to you than the money.

    All my best,


  3. Well said, as usual John! The wife and I were really determined to go the next time they came around. Neither of us have ever seen the Stones live, and we’re not youngsters by any account! Determined not to miss the gig this time around, we even accepted that it wouldn’t be “cheap”, knowing it was gonna cost a fair bit of cash. We were willing to pay rather more than your general range of, let’s say, $25-$75 for a ticket to see a good band. But for fuck’s sake, what’s with these numbers we’re seeing? It’s not just the Stones either, I’ve seen similarly obscene prices for the upcoming Who Quadrophenia gigs, and apparently the 4-figure ticket price isn’t that unusual among the mega-big-established A list superstar acts. It’s both sad and arrogant, because the artists know they’ll sell the shows out, even at these prices. And, as you said, an audience full of investment bankers out celebrating the latest round of fleecing the rest of the population just doesn’t seem like the kind of energy a genuine rock’n’roll band would feed off of. So, maybe their legacy of still being a killer live act is essentially, well, just an act. Or should I say, a con? So yeah, I’m digging the new single. Been a Stones fan since before my adolescent punk awakening in the mid-70’s, and I never threw away my copies of Through The Past Darkly or Beggars Banquet or any of the others. I still have all of my worn out vinyl in fact. We’ll keep enjoying it, of course. But I have to say, it’s disappointing to think that we’ll likely never get to see the live version in person. Then again, I’m not sure I’d enjoy hearing the howls of laughter rising from the first 50 or so rows as they sing along with “You Can’t Always Get What you Want”.

  4. I absolutely agree with your words in this letter but the main problem for me is not just the prize of tickets but the system of selling them!Only American expres card holder?..ridiculous,stupid and not fair !!!!!..And when this tickets are gone ,you can find them and buy on other pages for triple prizes !!???WTF!I suggest what they should do to avoid that is the same what Robbie Williams buy ticket online and collect the ticket at the O2Arena with ur card and ID !!! only real fans will be there !

  5. Couldn’t agree more. Those ticket prices are totally un rock n roll. This is why we needed punk rock to put this rockstar behaviour to bed.

  6. From Spain, waiting to tomorrow tickets, and check if I can get any of the 110 – 166 pounds. Plus plain, plus hotel, plus evertything……. even so, is more than I could affort been realistic. But I´ll do… i´ve seen them 26 times from Voodoo Lounge, I enjoy all their concerts, and all their albums (the kind of guy who think what A Bigger Bang will be a master piece in some years), but sincerilly, I can´t agree more with you….. not even in my mother languague I could express it on a better way……

    Stones (Rolling we say in Spain)….. we love you, but hey, we don´t ask so much, just a little show of consideration!!

  7. Even if I’m a fan since 1973, I only joined the rs fan club in 2006. I remember how many of us were angry about not receiving our promised DVD as a subscription gift. I didn’t join for the gift but you promised something (or at least your staff) and it was written, I still have the card. Maybe it’s more than time to keep one’s promise… And since it’s been 6 years now, also with this galloping inflation, loyal fans could even ask for more. When you changed for UMG, they told us they would keep the list for special gift… We’re still waiting.
    Also, I’m not sure this kind of compulsory sale (iPad, overpriced tix) for your next shows actually help.

    I love your music, but like many other fans I’m very disappointed by your current management.

    Sincerely yours,
    from Belgium.

  8. Well done John Robb … your words are my words, your thoughts are mine … that ticket price scandal is unbelievable, also from those old rock bastards as the Stones are … although there are not only the Stones behind the “crime scene” … but some other ticket agencies that sells tickets to other agencies and “scalp” the fool fans of the best rock’n’roll band ever.

  9. I was gutted when I saw the prices as I knew it ruled me out straight away. But the fact is that the London tickets sold out in about 9 mins even at these ridiculous prices, and were on ebay 5 minutes after that for even more. Would charging any less for the tickets have made them more available to people with less cash? Or simply more available to those with the tools to snap them up and resell them? Personally I’d rather pay a fiver to see a good rock n roll band in a pub than pay any amount of money to sit alongside a load of chinless corporate suits entertaining their clients which in my experience is what these arena shows by legendary acts tend to be these days.

  10. I have loved & been influenced musically by the Stones since I first saw them on The 1965 Ed Sullivan show. I have seen every tour since 1975 & only missed out on 1972 because of counterfeit tickets that caused a riot in Montreal that night. I have preformed the music of the Stones for more than 30 years with The Blushing Brides of which I am the lead singer. We have for all these years tried to portray & capture in our performances the essence of the Stones from the legitimate period of their careers, that from ’64 to the early ’80. I have, since the 1978 tour been completely disillusioned by their performance & attitude towards both their music & their fans. Shabby is not even close to the treatment that they have bestowed upon the legions of followers that have made them RICH beyond their wildest dreams. BOYCOTT !!! Make a statement !!! Stop being HAD !!! Come see a Brides gig !!! We’ll play the music as it was intended and for a price you can afford !!! Nuff said…

    • If someone offered me a set of Stones tickets or the option of a set of Brides tickets?Sorry Mick i’m off to see the Brides..WHY? The Brides are better live -Give more of a personal show not an overblown fireworks display And Maurice is a much better vocalist…and Canadian to boot..i could go on all night..gotta get back to work -Later..

  11. I bought my last ticket to a Stones show in 2003. We walked out of the show. Our once frenzied excitment was gone, diminished by the recycled set list and arrangements that were phoned in by the Mick. I am happy to sit at home rather than spend outrageous sums to see yet another fireworks display. It seems to me that the boys have forgotten where they came from and who they are playing for. Sad. Blushing Brides? You bet your life! I can afford the ticket and the performance will honor and respect the music and the fans.

  12. The price of most gigs these days has become outrageous. In most cases it’s a days pay for two tickets on the average wage and by the time you’ve paid for transportation and a couple of over priced alcoholic drinks that taste like piss served in plastic bottles it adds up to a small fortune, if you’re a big fan and desire the merchandise you’ll have to cut down on your expenses for a month. The booking fee cracks me up, you book it yourself online and that’s another £10 and you did all the work typing in your details. Is it all worth it? not anymore. Any gig that costs more than £25 a ticket I now consider to be a rip off. I thought Madonna was over priced but the Stones have took it to another level, gigs for the rich, stuff the ordinary folk. If people with money are daft enough to pay those kind of prices then more fool them! In fact fuck-em, stick your over priced tickets up your fucking arse, I’d rather use the money for a last minute deal in Barbados, sunshine for two weeks, I could listen to the Stones on my iPod instead of standing for a couple of hours watching the old boys ponce around for copious amounts of money! Makes perfect sense to me!


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