13 Licks: A Guide to the Rolling Stones’ NYC

Christina Parrella

During their 50-plus-years as superstars, the Rolling Stones have done it all: revolutionized rock ’n’ roll; been at the nexus of music, fashion and art; and appeared in some excellent films (Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light comes to mind), as well as some not-so-excellent ones (Freejack, anyone?). Along the way, the British bad boys have spent a significant amount of time here in NYC, making the five boroughs an important part of Rolling Stones history.Exhibitionism—The Rolling Stones, a new downtown gallery show, celebrates the band’s relationship with the City while offering a peek into the Stones’ archive (think instruments, costumes, handwritten lyrics and the like). Ahead of Exhibitionism’s opening on November 12, we narrowed down key NYC locations important to the band’s history and lyrics. Get some satisfaction with the list below.

1964: Times Square, Theatre District
The band arrived on these shores in June 1964 for its first American tour, only a few months after that other, somewhat less rebellious British band made a splash on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Stones were greeted by swarms of female fans at the Hotel Astor in Times Square, and played two nights at Carnegie Hall.

1966: Flatiron District
The back cover of the band’s 1966 single “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” features the band dressed in drag, standing in front of 124 East 24th Street.

1969 and 1972: Madison Square Garden
The band has played at Manhattan’s most famous arena many times, but it was the two shows in November 1969 that produced one of their best live albums: Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out! (The recording was also used in the documentary Gimme Shelter, directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin). The band returned in July 1972 to play four sold-out shows. At the last of these, on July 26, Mick celebrated his 29th birthday and Andy Warhol, among other stars, was in attendance.

1971–84:75 Rockefeller Center
The storied Midtown office complex (most famous these days for being NBC headquarters) was once home to Rolling Stones Records. In partnership with distributors, the label released the band’s records and solo recordings, along with albums from other artists. (It ceased operations in 1992.)

1975: Fifth Avenue
To announce their Tour of the Americas 1975, the band rolled down Fifth Avenue on a flatbed truck, playing “Brown Sugar,” in a move that would be copied by many other musicians in future (ahem, Bono). Reporters and photographers waiting in a café for the band were forced to run outside for the impromptu media announcement. The final destination was the Fifth Avenue Hotel (24 Fifth Ave., at 9th St.; now a co-op), where the band was staying.

1978: Seventh Avenue
The lyrics to the Stones’ hit “Shattered,” penned by Jagger in the back of a NYC taxicab, references the west side, uptown and Seventh Avenue, which is synonymous with the Fashion District. The song appears on Some Girls, the band’s 1978 release.

1978: Central Park
In the song “Miss You,” also from Some Girls, Jagger sings, “I've been walking Central Park / singing after dark / people think I'm crazy / I’ve been stumbling on my feet / shuffling to the street / People asking me, ‘What’s the matter with you, boy?’” The frontman supposedly wrote the song about his girlfriend at the time, Jerry Hall; we’re pleased that he noted how willing New Yorkers were to help.


1980: West Village
“Hey, what am I doing standing here on the corner of West 8th Street and Sixth Avenue?” asks Jagger on “Dance (Pt. 1),” referencing the West Village corner. We can’t tell you why—maybe he was visiting friend Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios, just down the block?—but we do know the track leads off the Stones’ 1980 album, Emotional Rescue.

1981: St. Marks Place
The East Village thoroughfare is the setting for the Stones’ 1981 music video “Waiting on a Friend.” The video opens with Jagger on a stoop waiting for Keith Richards. Once the guitarist arrives, the two amble down to the St. Mark’s Bar & Grill (now the VBar; it’s at the southeast corner of St. Mark’s Place and First Avenue), where they meet up with Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman.

1989: Grand Central Terminal, Midtown East
In 1989 the Stones, riding a train in from the Bronx, arrived here to announce the initial leg of their first US tour in eight years—in support of the new album Steel Wheels.

1997: Tribeca, Lower Manhattan and Chinatown
The sultry video for “Anybody Seen My Baby?” stars Angelina Jolie as a burlesque dancer wandering the City. The band and Jolie are seen in various Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Tribeca and the Financial District. In addition, Richards appears to be playing guitar in the open air atop one of the Chrysler Building’s gargoyles, which is both impressive and extraordinarily ill-advised.

2006: The Beacon Theatre
The Stones performed here two nights in late October and early November 2006 for the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light.

2016: High Street/Brooklyn Bridge Subway Station (and elsewhere)
Filmed in NYC and various other locations, the Stones’ new music video—for their cover of Little Walter’s “Hate to See You Go”—uses shots of the subway as well as NYC streets and scenes. The blues track is part of their upcoming Blue & Lonesome album, the band’s first studio release in more than a decade.

Exhibitionism runs November 12, 2016–March 12, 2017. For more Rolling Stones fun, see the NYC map released by the show.