Hara Arena legends: The night the Rolling Stones bombed in Dayton

The Rolling Stones held their first concert in Dayton in 1964.

Apparently, it was horrible.

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“Boys Bomb Again” read the subhead of a concert review written by Gee Mitchell, the Dayton Daily News amusements editor.

The band, which had formed only two years earlier in England, was touring the United States.

Just three weeks before its Dayton performance, the band made its first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” performing two songs, “Around and Around,” a Chuck Berry blues classic, and “Time Is on My Side.”

The television show brought them national attention, but that acclaim had not quite reached Hara Arena on Nov. 13, 1964.

The review is brutal, and the accompanying headline “Rolling Stones Gather No Customers Here,” seems almost ridiculous today considering the influence on music and culture the band has had.

Here’s a look back at, in Gee Mitchell’s own words, that disastrous concert.


By Gee Mitchell

Daily News Amusements Editor

(Published Saturday Nov. 14, 1964)

The Rolling Stones gathered neither moss nor customers in Dayton last night.

Fewer than 1,000 of the 6,000 seats provided in Wampler’s shiny new Hara arena were occupied for the appearance of this latest anti-barber bundle from Britain.

What the Stones’ audience lacked in numbers it strove valiantly to make up in lungpower.

But most of the enthusiasm had to be triggered by the loose-hipped antics of Mick Jagger, the group’s lead “vocalist.”

And the Stones didn’t really give their faithful much opportunity. They were on stage less than 20 minutes, did eight numbers — or whatever designation is given the component parts of their brand of noise.

The shortage of demonstrative spontaneity was especially noticeable when the Stones arrived at the arena.

Some of the 20 or 30 feminine fans had been awaiting them for a half-hour or more. Yet, there was scarcely a squeal as the unkempt quartet skipped through the entrance.

Ordinarily the Stones are comprised of five members but one Brian Jones, nominal leader of the group, is ill in a Chicago hospital.

Young Phil Gary of Columbus, who promoted the show, wasn’t in what would be considered robust health, either.

He figured to take about a $5,000 bath on the deal since the Stones were working on a flat guarantee, cash in hand before they went on.

There was, too, a marked difference of opinion between promoter and performers as to who was responsible for the financial flop.

Gary’s trump card in this hassle was the fact that the Stones had bombed in both Ft. Wayne and Cleveland before coming here.

Back home in Britain the Stones, according to their advance publicity, are second only to The Beatles in popularity.

Except for unanimously shunning barbers the group has utter disdain for uniformity, even to the point of working in whatever costume they happen to be wearing when it’s time to go on.

This little idiosyncrasy gives them the rag-tag appearance of a combo recruited from hither-and-yon along their route.

Apparently in England, the difference between first and second place is approximately the same as the margin by which the New York Yankees ordinarily dominate the American League.

The difference in popularity on this side between the Stones and The Beatles indicates that there are after all, some things even teenagers won’t buy.

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