Rolling Stones Visit Motown Museum Ahead of Detroit Concert

The Rolling Stones touring party took time out for a field trip on Sunday in Detroit.

Guitarist Ronnie Wood and bassist Darryl Jones were part of a group of about 30 that made an afternoon visit to the Motown Museum not far from Ford Field, where the Stones are playing tonight. The entourage also included keyboardist and musical director Chuck Leavell, drummer Steve Jordan and backing vocalists Bernard Fowler and Sasha Allen, in addition to management and crew members.

Museum development director Paul Barker, who conducted the tour, tells UCR that arrangements were made the day before, with both parties jointly reaching out to each other. “They said they had the date scheduled for awhile. They really wanted to see the museum,” Barker says.

The museum is closed at the moment due to construction on a multimillion-dollar expansion, so the Stones group entered through a back door. “They told us this tour leg had been kind of … a rough one [due to COVID-19 protocols] and they haven’t been able to go out and do anything social,” Barker says. “This is the one thing they were hoping to do, and actually got to do. We were happy to host them. They were a joy.”

Some fans assembled outside, suspecting the Rolling Stones might want to visit the iconic site. The tour party arrived around 3PM, preceded by security, and stayed for more than an hour. A highlight came during a stop in Studio A, where many of Motown’s greatest hits were recorded. Leavell played the Temptations’ “My Girl” on the antique Steinway grand piano, with Fowler and Allen taking lead vocals and others joining in on the choruses, dancing around the studio.

Barker says Wood and the others were full of questions during the visit. “They wanted to know, ‘Was this session cut here?’ or if it was true that Martha [Reeves] started working at Motown [as a secretary] and then became a singer. That’s the piece I love. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Rolling Stone or Joe from Utah — people like that discovery moment. They want to learn something new they didn’t see in the books or movies or anything.”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have previously visited the museum, so they didn’t attend, but their respective personal managers did. Jagger instead took to the streets of Detroit, visiting a Stevie Wonder mural painted on the side of a local theater just a couple of blocks from where the Stones will be performing. He posted a photo on his social media accounts.

Tonight’s show, meanwhile, could give Jagger an opportunity to respond to disparaging comments by the Who‘s Roger Daltrey, who recently named Jagger as the “the No. 1 rock ‘n’ roll performer” but described the Rolling Stones as “a mediocre pub band.” Daltrey added that he meant “no disrespect,” acknowledging that “the Stones have written some great songs. … I love them. I just think they’re great entertainment.”

Jagger memorably fired back several weeks ago after Paul McCartney branded the Stones as “a blues covers band,” inviting the former Beatles star to “join us for a blues cover later” during a subsequent performance in Los Angeles.

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