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By Christopher Gray, October 20, 2006, Music

Exile on Barton Springs

Perhaps you've heard: In a display of pageantry not seen in Austin since UT hosted ESPN's College Gameday last month, the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang tour touches down in Zilker Park Sunday evening. Gates open at 3pm, with former Stones sideman Ian McLagan & the Bump Band up first at 4pm, then Los Lonely Boys, followed by Mick, Keith, and Company around dusk, as the Austin skyline forms a picturesque backdrop. The stage will be near the main stage location for the Austin City Limits Festival, says Capital Sports & Entertainment head of events Charlie Jones.

"It's probably the biggest stage in the world," he says. "It looks like an aircraft carrier."

Although this will be the Stones' first Austin show in the band's 43-year history, they're in familiar territory. In fact, their first-ever Texas shows were two dates at the "Teen Fair" held at San Antonio's Freeman Coliseum June 6 and 7, 1964. The late Seventies and early Eighties brought a flurry of local Stones activity: Mick Jagger played the ponies at Manor Downs, when owner Frances Carr was then dating former Stones road manager Sam Cutler; Charlie Watts took in a Dave Edmunds show at the Austin Opera House with old friend and future Stevie Ray Vaughan manager Chesley Millikin; and Cutler, Keith Richards, and an entourage of Hell's Angels visited the home of "Condo" Joe Bryson, then owner of Inner Sanctum Records, for a "three-day gambling drunken orgy" around 1977.

"I'm not sure how much of this you can print," says Bryson, now Austin's Rock & Roll Realtor. "I don't think Keith went to sleep the entire time."

Newest Stone Ron Wood played solo in 1992 at the Opera House, where he was joined onstage by McLagan's former Faces mate Ronnie Lane, and former guitarist Mick Taylor visited the Back Room twice. UT's Memorial Stadium was briefly on the itinerary of the Stones' 1994 Voodoo Lounge tour, and a persistent urban legend has Jagger and Richards jamming at the Continental Club. "I can't confirm that," says owner Steve Wertheimer. "That would have been before I got here." However, McLagan's Continental gig and the Clifford Antone birthday tribute (see Music Listings) are neck-and-neck for the band's most likely post-show destinations, if any. But back to that Continental rumor.

"Never happened," says longtime local promoter and manager Wayne Nagel. "This was 1982 I think. Mick was in town with [then partner and Dallas native] Jerry Hall looking at horses at Manor Downs. There was a rumor he was going to come see Stevie at the club. They announced it on KLBJ, and it was a madhouse.

"He never showed. He did eat at Fonda San Miguel, though."

The Stones' Austin debut has been a long time coming indeed, but plenty of tickets are still available. Jones estimates a crowd of 45,000-50,000 – and no lawn chairs allowed, only blankets. The box office will be open until showtime (online sales stop at 1:30pm Sunday), Craigslist has reams at or just below face value;'s rates go from $85 general admission to $895 for VIP seats close enough to count the lines on Keith Richards' face. Believe it or not, Jerry Seinfeld's Nov. 3 Bass Concert Hall show is probably a harder ticket.

So what's ... the deal ... with that?


TCB's 10 favorite Stones album openers and, based on recent set lists, their estimated odds of starting up Sunday's show:

"Gimme Shelter," Let It Bleed (25-1)

"Jumpin' Jack Flash," Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! (3-1)

"Sympathy for the Devil," Beggar's Banquet (10-1)

"Paint It Black," Aftermath (2-1)

"Rocks Off," Exile on Main Street (35-1)

"Brown Sugar," Sticky Fingers (6-1)

"Not Fade Away," England's Newest Hitmakers (40-1)

"Start Me Up," Tattoo You (8-1)

"Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," The Rolling Stones, Now! (65-1)

"One Hit (to the Body)," Dirty Work (100-1)

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