The Night I Joined the Rolling Stones (Sales Team)
Every now and again I re-read David Wahl’s Mick Jagger story, and it cracks me up every time. My own Jagger story isn’t nearly as good, but it is a fond memory of mine and I’d like to share it with you.
In 1989 I was working as a shift manager at a Sam Goody Music & Video in Huntington Beach, CA. I took the job because I was tired of sitting at a desk, and I wanted to grow my hair long and wear crappy clothes. (Can you believe I was once an Accounts Payable clerk for a pharmaceutical company? I still can’t.)
Now, I’ve never been one for dressing up for Halloween, but there was a lot of time to kill at Sam Goody — and one night, about one week before Halloween, I took it upon myself to play dress-up. The Rolling Stones had just released its “Steel Wheels” CD and we were told to suggest-sell the living hell out of it. Being a sizeable Stones fan (well, pre-1980 Stones), and having no plans to dress up for Halloween (though later, and practically at the last minute, I decided to be Robert Smith of the Cure, that being a costume that required only a black sweater and a half-can of Aqua Net), I made up my mind to take the suggest-sell to its logical extreme. I found a magazine with Mick Jagger’s face on the cover, cut out holes for my eyes and lips and, through a Chekhov-like application of the Method, actually became the Stones frontman for the evening.
(I actually have a real physical advantage in mimicking Jagger: these round, full lips that pretty much set the tone for the rest of my face, even when I’m wearing a full beard. They’re not quite Jagger-big, but man alive, they’re big enough. Poking out of the magazine cover, they looked very convincing indeed.)
I stayed Jagger for the duration of my shift, greeting customers with a lippy “‘Ullo! Buy my album” as they walked through the door. I harangued customers as they looked through the video rentals (“You’re not buying my album! Keith needs Methadone! Ron needs mousse! Bill needs … something!”) and I even danced Mick’s chicken-dance atop the counter to “Mixed Emotions,” my lips pursed up like an expectant aunt.
I sold 25 copies of the Stones album that night. And this was “Steel Wheels,” folks — first new Stones album after “Dirty Work,” one of the worst-received albums in the Stones’ catalog. You’re welcome, guys.
Thankfully, my supervisor waited until after my shift to pull me aside and say, “You know, the district manager was in here tonight, with his wife. He asked who the man in the Jagger mask was.”
“Oh, no. You didn’t tell him, did you?”
“I sure as hell did. You topped every area store in sales. He wants to know if you’ll do the same thing for Phil Collins next month.”
Within two months, I was promoted and moved to another store. I wrote Jagger a nice thank-you card, but I never sent it. Hope this makes it up to him.