Wed. Jul 17, 2002
Jumpin' Jack Cash
Jumpin’ Jack Cash – This short column from Paul Campos opens with what may now be the most ironic line in rock and roll, ”Hope I die before I get old,” and closes with an assessment of today’s geriatric rock stars: "Things they do look awful cold."
Inbetween he takes the Who to task for a lack of respect shown to John Entwistle, and throws in the example of the upcoming Rolling Stones tour to point out these guys are charging hundreds and thousands of dollars for the right to view them.
"As a long-time fan of the Who’s music, I was rather shocked by what seemed like a callous attitude toward the death of someone who had been such an integral member of the group, not to mention a close companion of the surviving members for almost their entire lives. Then I checked out the ticket prices for the Who’s latest tour, and this attitude began to make more sense."
Before Entwistle’s death, in an interview I cannot find right now, Townshend talked about the band’s upcoming tour, and why he’d agreed to do it: money. Not for himself, but for his bandmates. You see, Townshend rakes in money for his songwriting royalties every year, while Daltrey and Entwistle made their big chunks from their share of the tour take. They’ve always wanted to tour far more than Townshend, and he admitted as much in this interview. He agreed to do this tour was so his mates could make some money.
I suppose Entwistle’s death didn’t really change that motivation (one would assume a portion of the proceeds would go to Entwistle’s heirs). I’m not going to pass judgement on the motivation, nor am I going to pay $200 to $1200 to see them live.
I’ve seen them. After eight years in rock radio, there’s very few bands from that era I didn’t see. And in that process, I also saw the ticket prices inflate. The first concert I attended in the summer of ’72, it cost me $5.50 of my hard earned lawn mowing money (I was 14) to see the Guess Who and Rare Earth. When I saw the Rolling Stones the first time in ’75, it was the most I’d paid for a ticket, $16. By the time I saw them at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in ’81, not only had tickets doubled to $32, but there were no comps (no freebie tickets for industry types … like me), and for the first time, cameras were not allowed into the show. This time around, 20 years on, you’ll pay three or four figures for a ticket to see the Stones, depending on venue.
During that time, the cost of an artist’s ”release” (LP or CD) has gone from $5.99 to $17-$19. It has essentially tripled. But the cost of a ticket to see these MegaStars has grown by a factor of 10 to 100. Who would have ever dreamed that a single ticket for the ephemeral experience of seeing the Rolling Stones would be more valuable than a thousand shares of stock in WorldCom or Enron?