My friend Barb has been a loyal fan of San Francisco radio station, KFOG since it’s inception back in the ‘80s. A rabid music lover, she listens to music as much as possibly possible, which means she’s got the radio on at work most of the day. Being the fun-loving adventurer that she is, when KFOG (http://www.kfog.com) has anything to offer its listeners – free dinners, concerts, tickets to just about anything – Barb gets the itch in her dialing finger and throws fate to the wind by “going for it!” As she would say, “Why not? Right?” This “why not attitude” of Barb’s has won her a lot of things in the past, from concert tickets (Eric Clapton, Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, Concert for Kids, Outside Lands Festival) to numerous CDs and other fun stuff. Well, this past November, while Barb was at the office (yes, her music addiction is well-known amongst her bosses and co-workers,) KFOG made an historic announcement! They were having a contest to send a listener to New York to see the kickoff of the Rolling Stones’ “Fifty and Counting” concert at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn! The contest would last only three short days, and five people per day would qualify for the grand prize if they were the tenth caller when a Stones song was played. The contest would take place on December 3, 4 and 5, and the winner would be notified on the 6th, then flown out of San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 7 for the Dec. 8 concert! Talk about a whirlwind! For someone who has been a Rolling Stones fan since she was old enough to know who they were, Barb was thrilled by the thought of it all! And, you can bet she was going to have her radio tuned in to KFOG for this contest of a lifetime!
On Monday, December 3, the contest began. Barb’s anxiety was barely controllable, but she had no choice but to keep her cool on the job and hope to be listening at the right time. But, the day came and went and, try as she might, Barb was not one of the qualifiers. Not to be discouraged, though, she knew that she had two more days to try and get her call in. “Why not? Right?” That’s right, Barb! So, when Day 2 of the contest began, she was listening intently. Sure enough, at some point during that day, she heard a Stones song enter the airwaves, and was ready to dial! And dial she did! She got through and when she heard that she was caller #10, she was ecstatic! Winning the Stones promo CD, titled ‘GRRRRR….!’ was the cherry on the top of qualifying for the trip, which she excitedly told KFOG during the call, “I already have my bags packed!” Her enthusiasm seemed to spread through the radio station as the DJs played on her excitement, playfully bantering with her during the call. Off the airwaves, she gave them the necessary information needed to “throw her into the hat” with the other qualifying contestants. Next, Barb had to sit tight and wait two very long days until the grand prize winner was announced! These days, hours, and minutes consisted of lots of exciting conversations with friends, co-workers, and everyone else she knew, about qualifying for this trip of a lifetime. She never mentioned then, but admits now (after the fact) that she felt it in her bones that she was going to win the trip. She just sensed it, and if you believe in the Law of Attraction, then you know she simply willed it. Because, sure enough, two days later she got a phone call from KFOG informing her that she had won the trip to New York to see the Rolling Stones!! Because of the timing on this event, the station actually called her, and started the paperwork rolling, before they announced it on the radio. Once the legalities were under way, they got her on the line and spoke to her on air. Of course, she explained to the listeners how it had come about, that she had been called earlier by the Station Manager, and that they were getting this thing moving right along. Barely able to control her enthusiasm, and thanking KFOG profusely, you could hear the DJs getting excited along with Barb. They knew that they had pulled the name of a worthy winner of this contest, her gratitude and appreciation overflowing!
Within the next 24 hours, KFOG had to get their flight to NY arranged, set up hotel accommodations, and organize a way to have
their concert tickets waiting for them. Meanwhile, Barb and her husband Steve (she won tickets for two,) were getting their things together, including informing her workplace that she wouldn’t be coming to work the next day, as well as missing Friday night’s company Christmas party where they would be acknowledging her 15th anniversary with them. (When the time came, not only did they announce it, but they added on the fact that she wasn’t there that evening to accept her kudos due to having won the contest to New York to see the Stones.) Happy Anniversary, Barb!
In the crazy whirlwind that followed, Barb and Steve managed to think of, and remember their good friend Rob, an avid Rolling Stones fan who had passed away three years earlier. For his 40th birthday, Rob had arranged for twenty of his closest friends to accompany him to the Rolling Stones concert at Pac Bell Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Perfectly timed, the concert coincided with his birthday, so he planned for us all to go together, after pre-partying at his house, then driving over in a rented bus. It was an event to remember, and Barb and Steve did! So, what they did, since they couldn’t share this evening with Rob, was to take the memorial card that was handed out at his funeral, and bring it with them. This way Rob could be with them in spirit, and they could be comforted knowing that he was enjoying the show with them, wherever he was.
Dec. 7th, 2012: The day had arrived, with not much sleep the night before! Barb and Steve’s flight to New York was bright and early – 6:00 am – via Delta Airlines. After arriving in New York, they went directly to the hotel – The Empire – to get settled in. But, not for long, because they wanted to take in as much of this city as they could in the short time they were there! So, they scrambled off to an obvious destination spot – Times Square! They wandered around, taking in the sights. Then, over to Rockefeller Center to see the holiday lights, skating rink, and other bustling festivities. They were in awe in this magical city adorned for the season! When they got their fill, it was back for some much needed rest before the main event the following night!
The next day involved a little more sightseeing, but not too strenuous since they wanted to save their energy for the main event. However, this was Dec. 8th, the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, and of course, two diehard music fans would never, could never, visit NYC without a trip to Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Apartments. Amazingly, because this timing, Barb and Steve were able to join about a hundred or so other Lennon fans in Central Park for the “Pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields” to celebrate his life. There were hoards of people there, gathered peacefully, some with guitars, one an actual John Lennon lookalike, singing his songs together. It was heartfelt and moving to experience the honoring of this man so many years after his death. People placed flowers, notes, candles, and other memorabilia on the “Imagine” marker in his memory. His impact on this world will obviously not be forgotten for a long time. Over at the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon lived at the time of his murder, people gathered as well, at the actual spot the shooting took place that fateful night of Dec. 8, 1980. Rest in Peace, John Lennon. And thanks for your legacy of beautiful music!
Right afterwards, Barb and Steve hopped on the subway to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, the newly built home of the New York Nets basketball team. (http://www.barclayscenter.com) They were surprised, yet thrilled, that the train dropped them off directly in front of the arena! With their special passes (and Rob’s picture) around their necks, they entered the bustling Barclay Center. They could feel the energy electrifying the people inside. There was security everywhere, as well as the major presence of police, EMTs, whoever and whatever, to keep things civilized and running smoothly. After all, this was a special event – the first concert tour in many years, by the longest running rock & roll band in history – - the world famous Rolling Stones!! Yeah, they’re getting old, but who cares? They are the Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood- back together again!
Since they had arrived early, Barb and Steve moseyed around, checking out the Stones’ souveniers and memorabilia. After buying a few small trinkets, they decided to indulge in a Nathan’s Hot Dog, (lhttp://www.nathansfamous.com/index.php/history) for nostalgia’s sake, and walk around to size up this new center. After awhile, it was time to find their seats, which were decent, but
not ‘up close and personal.’ But, they didn’t care, they were happy to be there to soak up this once in a lifetime experience! Once they sat and got situated, the show began, albeit about 45 minutes late. The arena darkened, and at first there was nothing but the sound of drumming. Then, a drumline appeared, marching onto the floor behind both sides of the stage. In two lines, they drummed along the outside aisles of the floor seats, then up the middle and through the center aisle. They were joined by cheerleader-style dancing girls, which started the buzz and excitement throughout the place. The noise, movement, and vibration energized the crowd and got their adrenaline flowing. This interlude continued for approximately 15 minutes before the Rolling Stones hit the stage. And what a stage it was! It was built in the shape of their famous logo, the big lips and tongue! Out blasted the Stones, exploding into “Get Off of My Cloud” while old black & white videos of their musical journey streamed behind them. Throughout the show, between songs, were snippets of friends and colleagues of the band sending them good cheer, wishes and congratulations for making history – achieving status as the first rock band to be together for fifty years! They played some favorite hits, some lesser known obscure songs, and some new stuff. They entertained like they were still young, with Mick running all over the stage, and Keith shredding on his guitar, with his signature raunchiness. There were a few guest singers that joined in, like Mary J. Blige who performed a “Gimme Shelter” duet with Mick; and Gary Clark, Jr., who joined them for “Goin’ Down” and got down with Keith for some guitar battling.
The approximately two and a half hour show included a good variety of songs from every Stones era – the early ‘60s stuff from their raw beginnings, to their heavy blues period, through those songs with a disco edge, to the heavier rocking era, etc. The volume of music this band has put out over the years is so vast that, when seeing them in concert for two short hours, it seems that they only cover the tip of an iceberg. But, this night they did an excellent job of bringing together a sampling of many decades of their material. They did not disappoint. Of course, they came back for the encore with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” while being backed up by the local Choir of Trinity Wall Street (http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/music/choir/meet.) Next was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and last, but not least, they ended the show with their signature song, that song that made them famous when it took American radio by storm so many years ago….”Satisfaction!” The crowd went wild!! The buzz and excitement of seeing the Stones perform their hugest hit live, just capped of this adrenaline-filled historic night! When it was all over, they all came together at the front of the stage for bows, waves, smiles, and thanks. And then they turned and walked off into the darkness…What a night! What a blast! What an unexplainable feeling to experience this once in a lifetime show! Thank you, Rolling Stones! Thank you, KFOG! Thank you, Barb for sharing your story!