My Night with the Rolling Stones

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – I left the station with little information about my assignment that evening. My producer told me that rumors were flying about a private concert with the Rolling Stones at Belly Up, but nothing had been confirmed. It’s an intimate venue, so I did not expect much of a crowd. I left a little unmotivated thinking that since nothing had been verified, I would probably end up without much of a story for the early newscasts.

And yet, there were dozens of people standing in line wearing Stones t-shirts… alright.

CLUE #1. The very first gentlemen I talked to was pretty tight lipped about things but did confirm that the Rolling Stones were gonna perform there that evening. I said, “How do you know?”… he leaned in and whispered in my ear, “I’m a part of the road crew,” then showed me his tour credential. Jackpot!! He went on to confirm that they were taking the stage at 9pm and had been paid 3 million dollars to be there. 

Clue #2- After my last hit in the 6pm show, a gentleman came up to me and told me, jokingly, that I needed to interview his friend. I giggled then told him that the broadcast was over. He insisted that I come and meet his friend who was “best friends with the gentleman who was putting on the event.” He walked with me to the end of the parking lot right next to the club and I shook hands with his friend Chip… Ganassi… NASCAR giant and former part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Big Break-  Chip was polite, excited to be there and a fellow Pennsylvanian like myself. After a short conversation, we found out that we were born in the same hospital and grew up 15 minutes away from one another in good ‘ol small town USA. CRAZY!!  

And in another  surprise, it turns out the gentleman who initially walked with me through the parking lot was Don Prudhomme… legendary drag racer and huge fan of KUSI! Both Chip and Don invited me to stay for the event…

It was an invitation I could not to pass up. 

The event was put on by Ralph Whitworth, the same man who hired Paul McCartney to play for his wife’s birthday a few years back. This concert was for his new wife’s birthday and to raise money and awareness for cancer… a disease that he was fighting. Don was right, Chip was good friends with him…so good that he gave everyone in Chip’s party VIP wristbands which put us 3 feet away from the stage. 

The Stones came out to ‘Start Me Up,’ finished with ‘Brown Sugar’ then encored to ‘Satisfaction.’ I had the best seat in the house… right next to Meg Whitman, yes, that Meg Whitman, and, in front of me one of the executives of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I was so close to the stage that I could see Mick’s blue eyes and smell the smoke from Keith Richards’ cigarette. 

I have gone on a lot of cool assignments…but this one was definitely one of the best!  And to think, what if we had listened to the wise guys and not gone at all. It’s almost always worth rolling the dice.

I came up sevens, on this memorable night with the Stones.

Categories: KUSI