The Rolling Stones kick off their Exile on Main Street tour at the Pacific Coliseum, the first show in North America since the notorious Altamont concert three years earlier where four people died, and a riot broke out. Security was tight at the show, with police having been tipped off by an undercover agent that a gang known as the Clark Parkers, who’d been implicated in the in the Sea Festival riot in the summer of 1970, planned to disrupt the show, and two dozen cops in riot gear were standing by.
When the doors opened at 6 p.m., some 2,500 fans were left outside in part due to scalpers selling fake tickets. Once the show was underway and fans were still trying to get in, people hurled bottles, boulders and two-by-fours from broken fencing trying to break the doors down. Police trying to stop them were met with hurled rocks, and at least one Molotov cocktail was reportedly thrown. Mounted police eventually charged into the crowd to end the confrontation before the crowd emptied out. The clash left 31 police injured, 13 badly enough they were taken on stretchers to hospital, with an unknown number of civilians also hurt.
A total of 22 people were arrested on various charges, including possession of an explosive and of a dangerous weapon, which turned out to be a four-foot logging chain with a hook on one end and a leather handle on the other.
Fittingly, the Stones played “Street Fighting Man” for the encore.
-- with files from Aaron Chapman