Saturday, July 30, 2011

How to tell him?

For sure Ian Stewart wasn't out of the hearts of his bandmates after Andrew Loog Oldham decided to take Stu 'out of the picture', but what exactly was the band's reaction to his decision? Here's what James Phelge, flatmate at Edith Grove, noticed: I was in the lounge when Brian and Keith entered the room, both looking tense. Seeing their faces I asked Keith: "What's up?"

"We'll have to tell Stu he's out of the band", said Keith, who looked very unhappy. "Andrew doesn't think he can do anything with the way he looks", Keith said. I knew of course what that meant and visualised Stu's face with its prominent chin. Stu dressed differently as well. "What are you going to tell him", I asked. Surely they were not going to tell Stu that directly. It looked difficult. "We don't know yet", said Brian. "We don't know how he's going to take it, or how to tell him".

"Andrew said that Stu could stay on as road manager or something", said Keith. "It's just the image thing". "What's gonna happen if he doesn't?", I asked both of them. I couldn't see Stu taking to this idea and if he left they would lose his van too. "We'll have to see what he says", answered Brian, but he sounded as if his mind was made up - the Rolling Stones would go on without Stu.

"When are you going to tell him?" "We'll have to do it tomorrow before the gig, when everyone is here", said Keith. When I arrived back at the house on Friday evening Stu's van stood already parked outside in the kerb...when I made it upstairs and entered the front room the meeting had almost ended. Stu was standing over by Brian's bed and the other Stones were around the settee except for Brian who was by the radiogram and nearest to Stu.

They had told Stu, who had reluctantly accepted the job as road manager in order to stay with the band. He stood with his hands in his pockets and looked crestfallen at the turn of events. Everyone was trying hard to act cheerful - the boys knew how upset Stu would be feeling. Brian then began to promise things. "You'll still be able to play with us on occasions, we'll work something out, won't we boys?". The others made conciliatory noises in agreement. Then Brian told to Stu: "Don't worry about it, we'll see you all right, we'll make sure you get a sixth of everything".

With that he put his arm around Stu's shoulder and hugged him. Then Stu took his hands from his pockets and turned his palms limply outwards as a token of hopelessness. "I expected something like this might happen". He sounded upset and sounded so sadly. I looked at him and thought he was going to cry - if I had not been in the room I felt sure he would have done so.

Source: James Phelge, Phelge's Stones, Buncha Asshole Books, 1998.

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