In the winter of 1977 The Rolling Stones were in Toronto for a set of 'secret shows.'
In late February Keith Richards was found with a large amount of drugs in his possession and the incident made international news. There was also a possibility that he could be headed for a long jail sentence.
The rest of the band had been practicing in Toronto and their cover was set to be blown.
Mick Jagger and manager Peter Rudge had set up the secret shows at the city's El Mocambo Club months earlier. Their idea was to use some of the live recordings for a forthcoming concert album.
Secrecy was important because the upper level at El Mo can only fit about 300 people. If their cover was blown the shows would become a 'media circus.'
So the clubs booker, Dave Bluestein came up with a plan to schedule Montreal's April Wine to play March 4 and 5 at the club. Then they organised a radio contest where people could enter to see April Wine.
The winners were hand picked by Bluestein and The Stones, who were only told of the real plan when they were on the bus to the gig. The guests then entered through the back of the club.
“The minute I got onstage, it felt just like another Sunday gig at the Crawdaddy,” Richards said. “It immediately felt the same… It was one of those weird things in Toronto.
Everybody’s going around talking doom and disaster, and we’re up onstage at the El Mocambo and we never felt better. I mean, we sounded great.
When The Stones third album Love You Live came out in September 77, side 3 was composed solely of covers recorded at the El Mocambo.
Ultimate Classic Rock