Rahm Emanuel will use the $2.2 million remaining in his campaign fund to hire The Rolling Stones to play at his May 16 inauguration, his transition team announced Friday.
The Stones have a deep connection to Chicago, having recorded one of their first LP s at Chess Records on South Michigan Avenue. Emanuel first learned about this fact when he was a teenager growing up in Wilmette, by reading a Bob Greene column about the band’s relationship with Chicago bluesman Howlin’ Wolf.
“The Rolling Stones were coming to Chicago, and Bob Greene wrote this maudlin column about how one of their idols, Howlin’ Wolf, couldn’t afford to go to the show,” the mayor-elect stated. “They were making millions of dollars off his music, and he was totally broke. There was a line in there about how Mick had attended the London School of Economics. After I read that, I went out and bought Let It Bleed.”
The mayor-elect began following the band even more avidly after the enormous financial success of 1989’s Steel Wheels tour.
“My brother Ari and I went to all three nights at Alpine Valley because we heard they'd signed a deal that guaranteed them $70 million, and partnered with Macy’s and J.C. Penney to sell merchandise,” Emanuel said. “I still have the cover of Forbes magazine that Mick and Keith appeared on, and the Budweiser poster advertising the concerts. I’m going to get Mick to sign it when he comes to Chicago. I always joke to Ari, ‘I hope none of your clients are that smart.’ He said, ‘If they were, I couldn’t have donated a million dollars to your campaign.’ We had a good laugh about that.”
Emanuel has cited the Stones’ financial success on that tour as his inspiration for going into investment banking after leaving the Clinton White House.
“I’d been in public service for almost 20 years, and I’m glad I did it,” he said. “But there comes a time when you have to ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make as much money as Mick Jagger?’ I can’t sing or play guitar, so I decided to go into banking. If you divide the money they made off the Steel Wheels tour five ways, I think I actually did better than Mick.”
The mayor-elect has requested a set list drawn mostly from the Stones’ greatest hits catalog, he said.
“They’re going to play ‘Satisfaction,’ of course, because that’s how I felt after winning the election,” he said. “But then, and this is gonna be totally great, I told them to end the show with ‘Under My Thumb.’ I can’t wait to see the looks on the aldermen’s faces when they hear that. I think an inauguration should set the tone for your whole administration. If that song doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will.”
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