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Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: View of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from the roof of the press box. On stage is George Thorogood and the Destroyers, one of the warm-up bands. Downtown Los Angeles is in the background.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Rose / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Rose / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Staff prepares helium balloons.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Rose / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Fan taking pictures at the Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This photo was published in the Nov. 22, 1981 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martha Hartnett / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Stage lights on portable stands rise above the crowd during Rolling Stones concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martha Harnett / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Crush of fans near the stage at Rolling Stones concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martha Hartnett / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Security watching spectators during Rolling Stones concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martha Harnett / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martha Harnett / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Rolling Stones concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Martha Harnett / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: Mick Jagger of the The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Oct. 11, 1981: The Rolling Stones in concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

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1981 Rolling Stones concert at the Coliseum

The Rolling Stones’ 1981 American Tour included two shows on Oct. 9th and 11th at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The images in this photo gallery are from the Sunday, Oct. 11, 1981 performance.

Pop columnist Robert Hilburn reported in the Oct. 13, 1981 Los Angeles Times:

You couldn’t have been any farther from the Rolling Stones over the weekend and still be inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum than Jeff Levine, 18, Culver City. From Levine’s seat in Row 73 high in the west-end stands, Mick Jagger appeared no larger than a cricket on the stage, which was a football-field away.

Asked why he paid $15 to “see” a concert under such conditions, Levine replied, “It’s a bargain. I paid $16 last year to see ‘Beatlemania’ and they were actors. In another year or two, we may have to settle for actors who’ll play the Stones. But now we can see the real thing.”

Dozens of others among the approximately 180,000 fans who saw the Stones on Friday and Sunday at the Coliseum echoed Levine’s feelings. The younger ones spoke of the concerts as “part of history” and “as something I’ll probably want to tell my kids about some day” and as “the last chance we may have to see them.”

Older fans also spoke passionately about the concerts, but their remarks leaned to nostalgia, frequently explaining how the Stones’ music reminded them of specific periods in their lives: the high school dances or their first dates or even, in one case, being shipped off to Vietnam.

Said Ton Stills, 39, of San Fernando, as he waited for the Stones to go on stage Friday. “It’s strange. I don’t know anybody here today except my wife, but I feel like everybody is my friend. It’s like a big family reunion or something. In a way, it’s true. We are all related–through the Stones’ music.”

All the nostalgia and sense of history is helping make the Stones’ tour the biggest in U.S. rock history. More than 2 million people will pay upwards of $30 million to see the British quintet by the time the tour ends in mid-December.

But this high-grade emotion also sets up dangerous expectations. If the band doesn’t deliver live on this tour, it can be perceived as a hollow caricature of itself, causing all the adulation to evaporate. Look how fast audiences turned on Bob Dylan, whose contributions to ’60s pop culture may have exceeded even those of the Stones.

At the Coliseum, however, the Stones showed little sign of rolling to a stop. Indeed, the band, through all of Friday’s concert and the final half os Sunday’s, played with such inspiring force that it only added to its reputation as one of the most exhilarating and important bands ever to step on a stage. …

11 Comments

  1. February 23, 2016, 8:26 am

    Thank you for all the great music of my life …Youre the greatest rock band ever !!!

    By: dinolaconte
  2. February 23, 2016, 10:41 am

    Yeah… “the last chance we may have to see them.”

    For $15, certainly! They're still touring today, but now it's $100 to $700.

    By: Bob
  3. February 25, 2016, 11:45 am

    I was there! As a senior at a local university, myself and several other students worked in a variety of concession booths. Prince was also a performer. The closing number I believe was their interpretation of the Star Bangle Banner. What an event!

    By: docnupe38@gmail.com
  4. April 21, 2016, 10:49 pm

    I will never forget Prince being booed and having food thrown at him. Bill Graham came out at yelled at the crowd. Such a crazy concert, so many people.

    By: john@oco.com
  5. April 22, 2016, 9:02 am

    I was at this concert with my sister. We got there early, early. Might have been before midnight! We had seats on the field. No assigned seats so we wanted to get close and we did. Prince was the first or opening act. They were pretty much unknown at the time. The crowd did not like seeing them come out in there, at the time, very strange outfits. Booing ensured, I can even remember (might have been a little messed up) full beers being thrown at them! I don't think that they played their full set because the crowd was not in to them. So sad he is gone. Little did we know then what he would become!

    By: usmunks@hotmail.com
  6. April 25, 2016, 9:35 am

    I was at this concert . I was 24 years old. Always loved the Stones, and figured this was my last chance to see them. Also seen George Thoroughgood, J Geils and Prince. I remember Prince getting booed off the stage. It was sad. No one really knew who he was (including me). People were throwing things at him. RIP Prince – you will be missed. _Sheila

    By: Sheila
  7. April 27, 2016, 10:32 pm

    Now these guys I’ve seen! First time they visited the US, they played at Dance Land (I think that was it) at an amusement park outside Minneapolis. They had to drop the ticket price the night of the concert… to something like $5- I was still in high school! They were great, and still are great? Then I saw Steel Wheels tour decades later. Best R&R Band ever!

    By: Mike Hohmann
  8. April 27, 2016, 10:33 pm

    Oh, yeah… Prince was a local guy that hit the big time too…RIP!

    By: Mike Hohmann
  9. May 15, 2016, 9:21 am

    I was there! Nickwent over the crowd Iin a cherry picker and was right above my head!!! When PRINCE was on, the crowd book him off. Nobody wanted to see his ass. It was relatively a biker crowd in front of the stage. I thought I was gonna die there!! It Was Crazy!

    By: Serena
  10. October 3, 2016, 9:30 am

    Front row center. Some benevolent stoners let me get in line with them around sunrise.

    Stage so big, I couldn’t even see Charlie.

    Four months earlier, I’m in high school in Michigan.
    Now I take the #204 bus to the Coliseum.

    My J. Geils Cobo Arena April 4, 5 and 7, 1980 t-shirt was permanently dyed purple from the painted boards in front of the stage. Primitive and painful conditions.

    I doubt I’ll ever get so close again. Bringing binoculars to Desert Trip and Vegas.

    By: Alan Lapointe
  11. April 8, 2017, 1:13 am

    I was there! I was 12 years old. We went to see the “Stones” it was my 2nd time seeing them

    By: Gerri Cabella- Cristanelli

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