The Rolling Stones wound down the American leg of their ''Licks'' tour on Thursday, making the second-to-last concert of the tour their first free show in more than three decades. The Thursday night concert, organized by the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group fighting for cleaner air, took place at Staples Center in smog-plagued Los Angeles.
Former president Bill Clinton preceded the band onstage, though he didn't bring his saxophone. ''I am here because the Stones aren't term-limited and they're just as old as I am,'' he told the crowd, according to Reuters. He urged consumers to demand pollution-curbing products, telling concertgoers, ''Say, 'Give me a clean car, give me solar shingles to put on my roof,''' the Associated Press reports. '''Give me a clean future.''' Once onstage, Keith Richards described the problem of global warming more succinctly, saying, ''The Eskimos are feeling the pinch.''
The show went a lot more smoothly than the Stones' last free concert, the infamous Altamont concert in 1969, a virtually impromptu affair held at a speedway outside San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands showed up at the concert, for which the security hired by the Stones were members of the local Hell's Angels, who stabbed one fan to death.
This time, tickets were given away by raffle, and the security folk were professional. Picking up the entire tab for the show was movie producer Steve Bing, who until now has been better known for making movies like ''Kangaroo Jack'' and grudgingly admitting to fathering Elizabeth Hurley's son than for his philanthropy.
Celeb guests who strode the green carpet to a private VIP reception before the show included Cameron Diaz, Lisa Kudrow, Christina Aguilera, Pierce Brosnan, Larry David, Mira Sorvino, Rob Reiner, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who earlier in the day had urged consumers to emulate him by driving hybrid gas-electric cars. Not all of the celebs who attended, however, arrived in such environmentally friendly vehicles.