Stones fans feel they're part of history

August 02, 1994|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Staff Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The way Jim Polyson sees it, taking his 11-year-old son John to see the Rolling Stones last night repaid an old debt. Twenty-six years ago, his father took 15-year-old Jim to see Jimi Hendrix. Apparently, seeing classic rock 'n' roll acts is a Polyson family tradition.

"This is something that will be a great memory he will cherish for the rest of his life," Mr. Polyson said as they waited outside Robert F. Kennedy Stadium a full four hours before the concert's scheduled 8 p.m. starting time.

"They're a great band, and I've liked them since I was his age."

The Polysons were only two of several hundred people wandering outside RFK yesterday afternoon, soaking in the atmosphere as they waited for the World's Greatest Rock and Roll band to open its 1994 world tour.

From Washington, the Stones' "Voodoo Lounge" tour is scheduled to hit dozens more North American cities by the time it closes in December. But last might was the only Opening Night, and the faithful came from all over the East Coast to celebrate.

Throughout the stadium parking lots, groups of fans sat by their cars, drinking a few beers, listening to a lot of Stones music -- not hard, considering the band has issued 36 albums in its 31-year history -- and swapping stories about how many times they'd seen Jagger/Richard and company rock the joint.

"There's them and then there's the rest of the music world," said Bobby Cranford, who had driven six hours from Lexington, N.C., to see the Stones for the ninth time in 19 years.

"I've been enjoying them for about 22 years," chimed in his friend and fellow traveler Martin Bailey, a relative rookie who was seeing the band for "only" the seventh time in 16 years.

"After tonight, we'll be seeing them again Wednesday [for the band's second RFK show], then it's back home, and on Saturday, tickets go on sale for Raleigh."

It was, in fact, hard to find people who were seeing their first Stones concert. Hard, but not impossible.

"I don't know how much longer they're going to be around," said Sharon Weiland, 18, who came down from York, Pa., to see a band that was already a legend when she was born.

As concert time approached, the hundreds waiting outside turned into thousands.

Souvenir vendors did a brisk business selling $25 tour T-shirts and $18 programs. In the parking lot across the street, hamburgers and hot dogs grilled on makeshift hibachis while the Stones' music rocked out from dozens of car radios and boom boxes.

Probably without realizing it, many of those who shelled out upward of $50 to see the band were quoting from one of the Stones' '60s classics in explaining why they came. This could be, many seemed to fear, "The Last Time." With Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both into their second 50 years, who knows how long the band can last?

Seeing the Stones is like seeing history -- with one heck of a rock beat.

It's an experience more than a few parents were anxious to share with their children.

"This is his first time," said Kevin Gleeson, 35, who brought 5-year-old Kevin Jr. down from Plainsboro, N.J.

And what did young Kevin think about all this, as he walked into the stadium arm-in-arm with his dad?

"My dad said I would be having the time of my life," said Kevin. "And I am!"

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