The long wait is over, with the release today (May 13th) of the Rolling Stones‘ 1977 El Mocambo Tavern gigs in Toronto. The band’s latest vault collection, the 23-track Live At The El Mocambo, is available as a double CD, digitally, a four-LP black vinyl, and a four-LP neon vinyl set.
According to legend, the band’s March 4th performance billed the Stones as the Cockroaches and the opening act for April Wine; as it turned out, April Wine served as the Stones’ opening act. The new package features the entirety of the March 4th, 1977 set — along with a trio of tracks from the March 5th show not played the night before.
Although four selections from the famed ’77 Canadian club shows found their way onto that year’s double concert album, Love You Live, the tapes of the El Mocambo shows — in varying quality — have made the rounds on the underground for decades.
It was on February 27th, 1977, while in Toronto for the 500-seat El Mocambo dates, that Keith Richards was arrested for possession of heroin. Richards was awakened by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who found five grams of cocaine and 22 grams of heroin in his room, among other substances. Richards was charged with “possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to traffic.”
Although Richards was eventually released on $25,000 bail, due to the trafficking charge, he faced a minimum seven-year prison term if found guilty. Richards, who due to his growing and public drug use had been on the wrong side of the law since 1967, was now facing the most serious criminal charge of his life.
He eventually received a suspended sentence after the court concluded that Richards did not bring the drugs into the country, but rather purchased them while in Canada.
The full tracklisting to The Stones’ Live At The El Mocambo is:
“Honky Tonk Women”
“All Down The Line”
“Hand Of Fate”
“Fool To Cry”
“Crazy Mama” – live premiere
“Dance Little Sister” – live premiere
“Around And Around”
“Let’s Spend The Night Together”
“Worried Life Blues
“Little Red Rooster”
“It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)”
“Rip This Joint”
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
“Melody” – live premiere
“Worried About You” – live premiere
- During Keith Richards drug trial later in 1977 a blind woman and die-hard Stones fan privately appealed to the judge and explained how Richards had always looked out for her when the band was on the road in Canada, making sure she was safe and cared for, and often helping find her a ride home after the shows.
- Part of Richards’ sentence involved playing a local charity concert for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in 1979 with his and fellow Stones guitarist Ron Wood‘s side band the New Barbarians — along with the Rolling Stones, who performed a show closing set.
- By that time, Richards had been heroin-free for two years, having quit the drug cold turkey.
CHECK IT OUT: The promo for The Stones’ Live At The El Mocambo album:
CHECK IT OUT: The Stonesperforming “Tumbling Dice” from Live At The El Mocambo album: