I love music. I love live music even more. It was October 1989, I was a freshman in high school, and had barely heard of the Rolling Stones. The Stones opened their Steel Wheels tour with two dates in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. I remember seeing massive coverage of the shows on the news with audience characteristics that varied from kids to grandpas, and Mick Jagger strutting around the stage in an outfit that no one else could ever pull off.
Throughout September I started making new friends. Then one October morning, I walked into school and heard some of them talking about a Stones show they went to the night before at Shea Stadium. My ears perked up. The next morning, the same thing. More people were talking about the second show — different people, from different groups — a testament to the diverse audience characteristics of Stones fans. I had to know what I was missing.
Luckily for me, the Stones had just announced a third, fourth, fifth and sixth show at the end of October. I managed to get four tickets, nosebleeds at a premium, for the final night at Shea. Now I needed a ride to the show.
My first thought was, “Who grew up in the 60s?” My uncle! He said yes, and since it became a family thing, I rounded it out by asking two of my cousins. I’m pretty sure they had no idea who the Stones were, but they said yes too. And just like that, we covered two generations of the audience characteristics.
Our seats were in the upper deck of left field. The stage was massive. A new band, Living Colour, opened for the Stones. Ever listen to “Cult of Personality?” Great song. Next, the lights go out and tribal music comes across the speakers, holding the crowd in suspense for about a minute — though it felt like an eternity. Immediately following, were pyrotechnics and then Keith Richards ripping into the opening chords of “Start Me Up.”
My eyes immediately opened to a legendary band and a new world of live music.
The last song of the main set was “Satisfaction,” and the crowd went nuts. So nuts that the upper deck of Shea Stadium started to bounce up-and-down. I looked over at my uncle, and he was holding onto the staircase railing for dear life, in fear that the upper deck would collapse. The 14-year-old in me told him to “just go with it.” 🙂
Beatles vs Stones
So why am I talking about this? Because I often get asked the question, “Who do you like better, the Stones or the Beatles?” The answer for me is the Stones, but it’s a fair question. The Beatles were amazing.
The Stones and Beatles had a healthy rivalry throughout the 60s. They would often wait to release albums on the same day to see which climbed the charts faster. Despite this, I’ve never heard anyone say “I like them both the same.” It’s always the Beatles vs Stones — you’re either in one camp or the other. This got me thinking about the audience characteristics of Beatles vs Rolling Stones fans. I know the Stones had more of a bad-boy image compared to the Beatles. Is this the same for the fans?
Audience Characteristics of Beatles vs Rolling Stones Fans in the United States
With the Stones kicking off a U.S. tour this spring, I decided to take an in-depth look at the audience characteristics of Beatles vs Rolling Stones fans in the United States, and what makes them both tick. Although there are some similarities, below are some notable examples of how the audience characteristics differ:
While some findings gave me a chuckle — Stones fans prefer Ruby Tuesday restaurant (named after the Stones song 😋) — other results were pretty darn accurate. If I worked for any brand that’s favored by Stones fans, I’d be thinking about audience characteristics and how and where to reach every fan — especially with the tour coming up.
If you need a hint, you might find me at MetLife Stadium this summer, in my Nike sneakers, occasionally checking the score to the Yankees game, thinking about becoming a Chevy owner again, drinking a Snapple, followed by another drink that isn’t on this list 😉
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