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The Time a Bomb Went Off at a Rolling Stones Show

Mick Jagger
Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Every Rolling Stones show comes with a certain amount of expected drama, but even by the band’s elevated standards, their 1972 tour was especially crazy.

As Rolling Stone quipped following the tour’s final four sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, the band “packed up their gear and went looking for a hurricane so they could unwind” following “a string of ugly events that came down on the tour in rapid succession.”

The ugliest of all occurred during the early hours of July 17, 1972, when an unknown perpetrator – later described as “the world’s dumbest bomber” by the Stones’ press agent – started the band’s stay in Montreal with a literal bang by stuffing dynamite under a loading ramp and detonating the blast at 3AM.

Fortunately, nearby windows and speaker cones were the only victims of the explosion; the band later made light of the incident, with Mick Jagger bemusedly wondering, “Why didn’t that cat leave a note.”

At the time, the Stones had plenty of other problems to contend with, not the least of which were the 500 counterfeit tickets circulating for the Montreal show, which ended up being a sweaty mess. A Weekend Magazine reporter present at the gig witnessed Jagger being pelted in the leg by a 40-ounce bottle that had been thrown from the audience, and described him as “tired and washed out” after the performance. “Not good, man,” he’s quoted as saying. “It wasn’t good.”

Although a number of individuals tried to take credit for the bombing, and a handful of theories surfaced – including one blaming the Hell’s Angels, who were supposedly retaliating after being blamed for the violence at the band’s disastrous Altamont show – no one has ever been convicted for the incident.

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