On a hot, July evening in the small coastal town of Blackpool, England, The Rolling Stones were set to play at the stunning Empress Ballroom. The 3000-capacity venue was decadent, similar to a Victorian-era grand ballroom, including chandeliers and a Steinway grand piano. Although having just released their debut album three months prior, The Stones were gathering quite a following and had a #3 UK hit with “Not Fade Away” earlier that Spring. Their fans on this evening, however, were all riled up.
Not far into their set, members of the audience began spitting at the stage. Apparently, Keith Richards noticed one young gentleman near the stage instructing others to aim their loogies at Brian Jones. Clearly not down with this shenanigans, Keith aggressively attempted to stop the man by stomping on his fingers and kicking him in the face (punk rock!). Rioting quickly ensued. Bottles and rocks were thrown, seats were destroyed, chandeliers were shattered, and even the lovely Steinway was shown no mercy. The Stones retreated backstage as the police showed up to stop the madness. When the dust had settled, 50 people had been taken to hospital — two of them police officers. The Rolling Stones were banned from not only the Empress Ballroom, but Blackpool entirely.
In 2008, a Blackpool council leader announced that the ban had been lifted – nearly four and a half decades after the incident. To date, The Stones have not included the holiday town on any recent tours. Keith might still be a badass in his old age, but it’s probably best he stays out of it.
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