”The front rows in Orlando were filled with these 12- or 13-year-old girls, some of whom were making the most unseemly suggestions.”
– Mick Jagger, the New York Times, November 4th, 1981.
In the fall of 1981, the Rolling Stones were touring behind Tattoo You, released that August. It would be the largest Stones tour to date, breaking ticket sale records and raking in millions.
Van Halen, on the road supporting Fair Warning, ran into the Stones in Orlando, Florida. They would serve as opener for both shows, marking the only time these bands would ever share the same stage.
From the desk of Rock File contributing editor Mac Cancribbe comes first-hand snapshots of the Rolling Stones and Van Halen live at Orlando’s Tangerine Bowl, October 25th, 1981.
A Seminal Rock Event to say the least.
It was my first real rock concert. I was 15. Most of my family had gone to New Jersey to attend my uncle’s wedding. My brother John and I stayed in Orlando to go to the concert. We bought 20 tickets, 10 each, the maximum you could get. They cost $16.35 a piece and we sold them to friends for $20.
Not much of a scalp.
The Henry Paul band opened for Van Halen, who were supporting the Stones. Only later did I learn that Van Halen opened the two Orlando shows. That was it.
Halen and the Stones, two nights only!
A few songs into Van Halen’s set, David Lee Roth, speaking to the press box down front, shouted, “Do you know what the first thing the newspaper critic with the Elvis Costello haircut is going to write about this show in tomorrow’s paper? How fucked up Van Halen was!”
The crowd cheers.
“And you know what the second thing they are going to write is? How fucked up the audience was!”
The crowd goes nuts.
“Well, this one’s for the press!” Roth moons the press box, and the band kicked into “So This Is Love?”
The stadium played “London Calling” by The Clash a few minutes before the Stones came out, switching to Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” as the band finally took the stage:
Mick Jagger in orange football pants, an orange tank top, an orange button-down shirt (completely unbuttoned) and pointy white shoes; Keith Richards in a short leopard coat; Bill Wyman in a yellow suit, standing still the whole time.
I had wriggled my way down to the 30-yard line just before the Stones went on. They opened with “Under My Thumb.” I could only catch glimpses of Mick because everyone else was taller than me. When the song was over, I ran back to my end zone bleacher seats to enjoy the rest of the show.
– Mac Cancribbe, concertgoer
It would be another eight years before the Rolling Stones returned to tour America. Van Halen was three years away from releasing the best-selling album of their career, 1984.
Their paths would never cross again, but for two nights in Orlando in the fall of ‘81, the Rolling Stones and Van Halen rocked the Tangerine Bowl, and it was good.
Rolling Stones concert ticket, collection of the Rock File