Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Stones at Times Square and Atlantic City


The Stones at Times Square. One of Popsie's Pix. Popsie Randolph.
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July 3, 1965 The First Time The Stones Came To Atlantic City
[Appeared in the Atlantic City Monthly, December, 1989]

The first time the Rolling Stones came to Atlantic City, George Hamid, Jr. met them at the airport. "I drove out to pick them up in my convertible and had somebody follow me in another car," recalls Hamid, who owned Steel Pier when the Rolling Stone performed there on Tuesday, July 3rd, 1965.

"They flew into Pomona airport (now Atlantic City International), although it really wasn't much of an airport at the time, just some shacks," says Hamid today. "But there was no hoopla or anything." For Hamid, the Rolling Stones were just another British band that played the Steel Pier.

Belittling their reputation as "the bad boys of rock and roll, Hamid said, "Mick drove in my car. He was so pleasant, a youngster really. I found them to be very nice, polite boys."

Hamid took them to the Claridge Hotel, where they stayed, then took them up to the Boardwalk. "I got them some hot pizza and soda, and they were really grateful," he laughs, considering how they are coming back to Atlantic City on very different terms.

"Now they want champagne and caviar, and it's in the contract that the champagne has to be chilled to exactly 32 degrees," says the 71-year old Hamid, who now lives in Princeton but maintains an office and residence at the Jersey Shore.

The difference is that, in 1965, the Rolling Stones were just one of a dozen bands that, like the Beatles, Herman's Hermits, the Animals, Kinks, Freddie and the Dreamers, et al., were classified as part of the British Invasion. Today, they are one of the few surviving bands of that era, and the richest, if not the best - rock and roll band in the world.

"They were good, but they weren't as big as they are now, and there were bigger acts at the time," recalls Hamid. "The Supremes and the Temps were both bigger acts. When bands came to the east coast, the Steel Pier was where they went. We had them all, from Bill Haley and the Comets to Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons; we had them all. The Association, Chicago, Dr. Hook, the Beach Boys,...I don't think you can name a rock act between '58 and '75 that didn't play for us, except for Elvis. And we could have gotten him if we wanted. And the same thing goes with the big bands."

The Hamid family came to Atlantic City in 1927.

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