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Stones lore: Jagger and Mr. Jimmy in Excelsior

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
A 1949 photo of the Excelsior Amusement Park.

In the summer of 1964, a fledgling British band rolled into town for a one-night stand at a suburban dance hall. Not yet the international rock icons they would later become, the Rolling Stones played to an unimpressed group of fewer than 300 concertgoers at the Danceland Ballroom at Excelsior Amusement Park.

When the Stones return to Minneapolis this week for their concert at TCF Stadium on Wednesday, they will receive a far different reception from a wildly enthusiastic crowd in the 50,000-seat stadium.

Gary Reins was in the audience at the 1964 Danceland concert. In a 2014 interview with KARE 11 News, Reins recalled that the event was poorly attended: “It was not a big concert and they (the Stones) were not even well liked. … There was some booing; I don’t think it was big like ‘get out of here,’ but yeah, there was some boing. Like ‘Who are these Beatles wannabes?” or ‘What are these guys?’ But I thought they were great.”

Reins remembered that the $6 ticket price for the concert seemed high at the time. “Mostly we were used to paying about a dollar and half, so the six dollars may have kept people away,” he said.

Danceland was clearly not a highpoint in the Stones’ career, but the Minnesota event deserves a footnote in the history of rock ‘n’ roll because of a chance encounter between Mick Jagger and a local character named Jimmy Hutmaker.

According to local legend, Jagger had gone to an Excelsior drugstore the day after the concert. While he was waiting to fill a prescription, Jimmy was ahead of him in line, ordering a cherry Coke, but the drug store had run out, so he had to settle for a regular Coke. At that point, Jimmy turned to Jagger and uttered the famous line: “You can’t always get what you want.”

Years later, Jagger used that line as the title of a song, and it became one of the Stones’ greatest hits. Jagger put the drugstore in Chelsea and cherry Coke became “cherry red” soda, but Mr. Jimmy got a mention in the lyrics.

At TCF Stadium, concertgoers will find that ticket prices have escalated substantially since that earlier time at Danceland. Front row seats in the open-air venue are now going for just under $8,000.

“You can’t always get what you want” may or may not be on Wednesday’ program, but many boomers in the stands that night, reliving their youth, will probably remember the lyrics, word for word.

The Rolling Stones during a 1978 performance.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
The Rolling Stones during a 1978 performance.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 06/01/2015 - 10:59 am.

    $8 for the 1972 concert

    I went with seven friends to the ’72 concert. We never went to our seats but sat in the aisle on the side of the main floor for Stevie Wonder. There was a large opening, maybe 20-30 feet, between the first row of seats and the stage. They wouldn’t let anyone in that area for Stevie, but when the lights went down for the main act everyone in the aisles mored into that area. As the concert progressed I got closer and closer until I could reach out and touch the stage right in front of Jim Price and Bobby Keyes to the left of center. Pretty small stage compared to nowadays so no one in the band was that far away: Billy Preston to my left, Wyman and Richards to the right of center, Mick Taylor back by Charlie. So for a thousand times more money I probably still wouldn’t be as close as I was that night. Best concert ever.

  2. Submitted by Michael Chummers on 06/01/2015 - 01:03 pm.

    “my friend Jimmy” is Jimmy Miller, not some yahoo from MN

    All you have to do is what Hitchens suggests about religion: “ask yourself, ‘which is more likely?’”

    Some random dude named Jimmy makes up a story that his encounter with Mick leads to a reference to him not only by name, but as “My friend Jimmy” or that the reference was to the guy who produced the record, Jimmy Miller? I think the second is way more likely and the first is just a made up myth that has lived on in the Minneapolis metro area. Get over yourself Minneapolis!

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/01/2015 - 03:30 pm.

      Lighten up Dude.

      As a long-time Excelsior resident, I can tell you that the late Jimmy Hutmaker was a beloved local character and virtually everyone in town acknowledges the story is probably a myth. We all just like to have fun with it. The same type of “fun” that appears to have escaped you.

  3. Submitted by John Summer on 06/02/2015 - 10:52 am.

    Some extra insight

    I lived in Excelsior at the time and played in a local band. We often played at Big Reggie’s Danceland next to the amusement park. From time to time, decent groups would play there, but when the Stones came most of my friends and I felt they were merely fake Beatles, so we stayed away. Plus, the higher ticket price was outrageous at the time. I was told they were booed and there was even some backlash from the Stones. And there were always fights at Danceland. Looking back only a few months later I wished I had attended. By that time, I was really into their blues roots more than the Beatle’s more pop sound.

    Regarding Jimmy Hutmaker, he was (to put it in less than flattering terms) kind of the town idiot. But everyone loved him because he was so eccentric. He did hang around Bacon drugs and I never doubted that there was some truth to the Mr. Jimmy story. Jimmy wasn’t bright enough to create it on his own from my perspective. And as a postscript, Jimmy died about 7 years ago. His headstone resides right next to my parent’s in a small Minnetonka cemetery. And inscribed on the headstone is: “You can’t always get what you want.” That, my friends, is a true story.

    John Summer. San Luis Obispo, Ca.

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