Rolling Stones Arrest History: 11 Brushes With the Law
As the Rolling Stones‘ arrest history shows, it’s hard to be the most popular, rebellious band in the world for five decades without finding yourself behind bars once or twice. Here are the scandalous, sometimes amusing and occasionally troubling tales behind the 11 brushes with the law the Stones (and their families) have encountered over the years. Startlingly, none of them seems to involve whoever designed the day-glo suits the group wore on the cover of its 1986 album Dirty Work.
Feb. 12, 1967
The Rolling Stones’ first brush with the law came when police were tipped off about drug use during a party at guitarist Keith Richards‘ home. Richards and singer Mick Jagger were arrested, and four months later received very harsh sentences: three months for Jagger and a year for Richards. Two months later on appeal, the sentences were dismissed.
May 10, 1967
Shortly after Jagger’s and Richards’ arrests (and subsequent probations), Stones guitarist Brian Jones was arrested for possession of marijuana and allowing his friends to enjoy the herby substance in his apartment. Like his bandmates, he was also given just a warning, but it appears he didn’t listen as closely …
May 21, 1968
Almost exactly a year later, Jones was again arrested for marijuana possession, and this time faced a long jail term. A psychiatrist made an attempt to keep Jones out of confinement due to mental health issues, and a judge eventually did have pity on him, letting the guitarist off with another stern warning. However, Jones was now unable to obtain a visa to tour overseas, which contributed to his departure from the group.
May 24, 1968
You know what they say: The couple that plays together gets arrested together. And as their May 24 1968 bust for marijuana possession (what else?) demonstrates, Jagger and girlfriend Marianne Faithfull were certainly no exception to the rule. Interestingly, this arrest happened on the same day that the Rolling Stones released “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the single that launched a comeback after their maligned Their Satanic Majesties Request album.
Feb. 16, 1972
Drummer Charlie Watts has kept on the right side of the law throughout his Stones career. But in 1972, his wife Shirley was arrested after causing quite an incident at Nice International Airport in France. Specifically, she was booked after swearing at and hitting customs officials.
July 18, 1972
In order to keep a Rolling Stones concert scheduled for that evening in his city from being canceled, the mayor of Boston had Richards and Jagger released into his personal custody after the duo was arrested for scuffling with a photographer in nearby Rhode Island. “The Stones have been busted, but I have sprung them!” Mayor Kevin White told an audience at Boston Garden.
June 26, 1973
As a result of this scandalous bust, Richards was brought up on charges that included possession of various drugs and paraphernalia. His impressive stash reportedly consisted of grass, cannabis resin, Chinese heroin, mandrax tablets, burnt spoons, syringes and pipes. Thanks to court records that were unsealed in 2011, the world found out he was also in possession of a loaded handgun, rifle and 110 rounds of ammunition. Richards claimed he was set up by police and that the handguns belonged to his tenant, and ultimately he was once again able to avoid further troubles.
July 5, 1975
The fact that Richards and Ron Wood were arrested in Fordyce, Ark., is apparently legendary within the town. After leaving lunch, Richards, who was driving an Impala, was pulled over for reckless driving. Officers thought they smelled marijuana on the pair and searched the car. Instead of finding pot, cops found less than two grams of cocaine in a briefcase supposedly belonging to passenger Fred Sessler. Richards passed the sobriety test, but was cited for carrying a hunting knife, which was considered an illegal weapon.
Feb. 27, 1977
It’s the arrest that could have ended the Rolling Stones. Richards was detained in Canada In February 1977 after police found heroin in his hotel room. He was charged with “possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking,” which, in Canada, can come with a prison sentence of seven years to life. His passport was confiscated and he was held in the country until April of the same year, when he was allowed to re-enter the United States on a medical visa for treatment for heroin addiction. Luckily for Richards, the charges were later dropped to the much simpler charge of possession. The judge showed leniency thanks to a blind woman who told him of how Richards made arrangements to look after her safety at Stones concerts. He pleaded guilty and was granted a suspended sentence and ordered to play a benefit for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
December 2, 1990
Thankfully, very few of the stories on this list involve any form of serious violence. However, on Dec. 2, 1990, Wood was arrested after an arguement with his girlfriend of the time. He was “cautioned” for common assault by police following the incident.
March 1, 2011
Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh? In 2011, Richards’ daughter Theodora was arrested in New York City and charged with making graffiti, possession of a graffiti instrument and possession of a controlled substance. Sources said the model had eight pills on her when she was arrested, and that she told cops she bought them from someone on the street.