EXCELSIOR, Minn. – Thursday will mark the 50th anniversary of the one of the most famous and poorly attended rock and roll concerts in Minnesota history.
On June 12, 1964 the virtually unknown British band, the Rolling Stones, gathered few fans in their appearance in Excelsior.
Big Reggie's Danceland was a prime destination for young music goers in the 1960s.The vast ballroom in the shadow of the roller coaster of the Excelsior Amusement Park could hold as many as 1,000 customers.
Previous performers included famous groups including the Beach Boys, who had appeared at Big Reggie's a week earlier and almost caused a riot because so many fans showed up and could not get in.
So, then came the other "British Invasion" to Big Reggie's. The problem was, they were unknown in America. Their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was still weeks away.
"I was here," said Gary Reins, 68, of Excelsior, standing on the site of Big Reggie's, which burned in 1973. "Me and my buddies were here, along with a few dollies."
Reins was 18 at the time and a regular at the big dance venue in Excelsior.
"They were having this new band, Rolling Stones from England," recalled Reins. "Well, everybody had Beatlemania! So, OK, we will go check it out and it was really poorly attended. It was not like a big concert. It was very small and they were not even well liked."
There are stories that the Stones were booed off the stage that night. Reins confirmed part of the story.
"There was, you know, some booing going on. I don't think it was a big, like, you know, get out of here, but yeah, there was some booing," shrugged Reins. "Like, 'Who are these Beatle wannabes?' or 'What are these guys?' But I thought they were great!"
Reins thinks his teenaged long hair and Carnaby Street-style clothes endeared him to the band. He said he chatted with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and other band members during a break.
"I think it was (the late) Brian Jones who said 'I don't think you and your buddies, I don't think they really like us around here.' I said, 'Awww, they will get over it. Just play on."
However, Reins remembers that Big Reggie's was only half-full, if that. He thinks the $6 cover charge, three times higher than Big Reggie's usual ticket, probably also kept people away.
"Are you kidding me? $6 bucks? So. We were used to a buck and a half, $2. We are not going! You know, kids were cheap then."
Reins said he does not remember the late Jimmy Hutmaker who died in 2007 at 75. Hutmaker has become part of the Excelsior/Stones legend because of a story he told for decades around the area.
Hutmaker said that he was in the old Bacon Drug Store in Excelsior in 1964 when Mick Jagger came in and the two bantered about a lack of Cherry Coke at the soda fountain.
"Well, I want you to know, Mick," Hutmaker related to Kare11's Allen Costantini in 1999, "You can't always get what you want."
A song by that name became one of the Rolling Stones biggest hits in 1968. Was Hutmaker the muse that sparked the idea in Jagger's head? Jagger has never confirmed the story.
Excelsior continues to enjoy its odd part of Rock music history for its poorly attended concert by one of the most enduring and beloved bands in history.
Thursday evening, from 6-9 p.m., there will be a performance in the Bayside Park behind the Bayview Events Center. It will feature a Rolling Stones cover band called "The Rolling Stoners". The $5 admission will go to the food shelf in Excelsior.
The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society is sponsoring another program on July 14 at the Bayside Park to commemorate the Rolling Stones place in local history. The Society is actively seeking individuals like Gary Reins, who were at the 1964 concert, especially if they have pictures, tickets or other memorabilia.
Anyone with items to share, should contact the Society via email at at firstname.lastname@example.org.