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A Rolling Stones-to-Santana letter exhumed, and a by-the-numbers look at the band

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.
Photo: Kevin Mazur
A letter from The Rolling Stones to Carlos Santana asking for permission to use his image and music in the documentary “Gimme Shelter.”

A letter from The Rolling Stones to Carlos Santana asking for permission to use his image and music in the documentary “Gimme Shelter.”

Forty-three years ago, The Rolling Stones wrote a letter to Carlos Santana. The band was asking for permission to use Santana’s performance at the ill-fated December 1969 Altamont free concert in an upcoming documentary under the working title “Love in Vain.”

Santana declined to be included in the film, eventually titled “Gimme Shelter,” an oft-harrowing film chronicling the Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour. The Altamont footage captures performances by the Stones and Jefferson Airplane amid violent clashes between fans and members of the Hells Angels, who were brought in to protect the stage. One fan, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed to death by members of the Angels near the front of the stage.

The letter dated June 10, 1970, requesting Santana’s permission, “for a reasonable fee” and signed by all members of the Stones is among items on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland from May 24 through March 2014. A list of those items has been passed along as the band hits town Saturday to play MGM Grand Garden Arena (one rumor has Santana joining the band as a special guest at MGM Grand, although he has a show scheduled for House of Blues at the same time the Stones are performing — his cameo would have to be late in the show).

The tour and ancillary celebrations of the band’s 50th anniversary led to a statistical column concept. The following is a by-the-numbers look at the Stones over the past six decades:

62: Number of years Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have known each other.

250,000: The estimated number of fans in attendance for the band’s 1969 concert at Hyde Park.

2: Days after the death of Brian Jones that concert was performed.

28: The number of years footage of the 1968 concert film “Rock and Roll Circus” was shelved until being made public.

50: Hours of footage recorded among current and former band members for the 2012 HBO documentary “Crossfire Hurricane.”

3: Number of albums released by the Stones in 1967 ("Between The Buttons," "Flowers" and "Their Satanic Majesties Request").

24: Number of members in the Green Valley High Madrigal Singers choir joining the band Saturday for "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

9: Number of weeks the 1981 album “Tattoo You” held the No. 1 slot on the Billboard charts.

6: Number of weeks missed by Richards on the band’s 2006 world tour after he suffered a head injury in a fall from a palm tree while on vacation in Fiji.

8: Years since the band’s most recent album of new material, 2005’s “A Bigger Bang.”

1: Times the band appeared on the Dean Martin variety show “The Hollywood Palace” (showcased in 1964).

12: U.K. chart position for “I Wanna Be Your Man,” the John Lennon-Paul McCartney single recorded by the band in 1963.

4: Where the band placed on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Top 100 rock artists of all time (trailing, in order, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Elvis).

1,000: The official maximum capacity of Marquee Club, where the Stones played their first public show on July 12, 1962.

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John Katsilometes is a columnist and magazine writer for the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly and editor-at-large for ...

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