I’ve officially hit rock-bottom trying to find something new to write about the Rolling Stones. While perusing the collage on the back cover of Exile on Main St for only the millionth time, I wondered about the photo of the newspaper headline that appears to read: “Father of Five Aids Rescuer.”
It’s a still from a film shot by Robert Frank as the Stones—sans Keith Richards—strolled along the gritty Los Angeles thoroughfare that took its name from their new double album.* You can see the footage in this unofficial, but highly popular video for Rocks Off—the brassy, psychedelic-tinged rocker that jump-starts Exile on Main St.
(* – OK, I jest.)
As you can see from a screenshot at about the 2:18 mark, the headline reads in full “Father of Five Aids Woman … Rescuer Stabbed.” Note also the headline above the masthead: “Floor Falls, Kills 2 Firemen.”
These stories led the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 23, 1972. The Stones were in L.A. about this time finishing up Exile on Main St., which would come out on May 12. It was easy to pinpoint the date because of the front-page photo—Nixon in China. This historic trip took place between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, 1972. It didn’t take long to find the story in the Proquest database on the Los Angeles library website. The problem is that Charlie appears to be holding an early edition.
The edition in the database is the “Wednesday Late Final,” and the overhauled front page boasts a banner headline about a city bus crash. Fascinating stuff. The heroic rescuer and firemen have been relegated to Page 3.
Here are some close-ups. The 32-year-old rescuer, Clarence M. Stewart, and his assailant, 17-year-old Gordon Lydell, who got 60 days in county jail and three years’ probation, are probably still alive; the other victim, Randi McAnally, was 56 at the time.
Copyright © 2019 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING.