The Time Small-Town Connecticut Locals Formed an Action Group Against the Rolling Stones
When a famous artist plays or stays in your small hometown, people remember it. You probably remember when ZZ Top played the Ives, or Nirvana played The Moon. But, you definitely remember when the most famous band in the universe, The Rolling Stones, 32 years ago this week, set up camp in Washington, Connecticut, at the Wykeham Rise School, and stayed for 6 weeks to prepare for their upcoming tour.
That stay in the Summer of 1989 culminated on August 12, 1989, with the Stones playing arguably, the most legendary concert in Connecticut history. It was an 11 song set at the 700 person capacity Toad's Place in New Haven. I wrote an article about the show, and you can see what they played and listen to a recording of the performance, by clicking HERE
We key in on the show at Toad's, and the band's local stay, as highlights of the 6-week rehearsal, but there were a few people that were not happy with the Rolling Stones setting up in Washington. The band rented the Wykeham Rise School, which had recently shut down for good. In addition, the band had also completely booked the Washington Inn for all 6 weeks.
On July 19, 1989, residents of Washington formed the "Roll the Stones Out of Town" action group. According to This Day in Music, the group was not happy that the band had taken over the former Wykeham Rise School. Security was understandably tight around the band, and locals had complained that they were being stopped, and asked what their business was, if anyone got near one of the band members.
The members of the band were staying at local residences, which had also been rented for the stay. As you can imagine, an entourage of workers, roadies, PR people, and their staff, moved into the small town of almost 4,000. According to an article by the New York Times, the Stones spent about a half a million dollars during their stay.
Unfortunately, that money was not enough to save Wykeham Rise School. Which fell into disrepair, and finally, burned down in January of 2017. Here's a video of the fire.
And here's another video of the aftermath
32 years have passed since that legendary event. I hear stories from people who have run into Keith Richards around the area, he lives in Weston, Connecticut. I wonder if they'll rent out the Ridgefield Playhouse next time? Or the Xfinity Theater in Hartford? The last time the Rolling Stones played Connecticut was August of 2005, at East Hartford's Rentschler Field, I think we're due.