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That Time the Rolling Stones Were Banned in Cleveland

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

From the very start, the Rolling Stones were no strangers to controversy. On the band’s second U.S. tour, its appearance in Cleveland on Nov. 3, 1964, became the scene of a near tragedy.

During the group’s performance at Cleveland Public Hall, a 17-year old girl fell from the balcony. The Plain Dealer‘s account of the night named her as Mary Evelyn Tomei, and said that she was taken to St. Vincent Charity Hospital, where she was treated for bruises. Between Tomei’s injuries and the fact that police temporarily halted the concert after 45 seconds due to girls rushing the stage, it was enough for Mayor Ralph Locher to ban the Stones from any future appearances in the city.

“Such groups do not add to the community’s culture or entertainment,” he said. “These groups still will be able to appear here at private halls but we do not feel we should invite this problem by making public facilities available.”

At the time, the Stones were in the midst of their second tour of the U.S., promoting their second stateside release, 12 X 5. The ban, which was extended to all rock concerts except for existing commitments, didn’t last long. They returned to play the Cleveland Arena in June 1966.

Six weeks before the Stones played, a Beatles concert, also at Public Hall, was stopped for 10 minutes due to similar behavior. Though it ended up continuing, the mayhem of the concert also led to a ban on the Beatles performing in Cleveland. They, too, would return in 1966.

Even with a 10,000-seat capacity, only a little more than 1,000 people attended the Stones concert. The promoter blamed Locher’s actions after the Beatles concert for the low turnout.

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