THE ROLLING STONES have called off the four UK dates on the already trouble-hit European leg of their ‘Bridges To Babylon’ world tour.
The axed shows, which were scheduled for August at Edinburgh, Sheffield and two nights in London, will be rescheduled for a one-week period in June next year. The Euro-tour has already been delayed for over three weeks due to Keith Richards injuring himself in a domestic accident.
The Stones have pulled the UK dates in protest at the new Labour Government’s changes to the British tax laws which now impose full taxes on the foreign-earned income of any British resident who works in the UK at all during the tax year. The band claim that the UK tax change would cost them 40 per cent (some 10 million pounds) of the tour’s total earnings, putting the entire European leg into financial jeopardy.
The reviewed Foreign Earnings Deduction (FED) tax law, ironically instigated by Labour’s last Chancellor Denis Healey in 1977, allowed British people who lived and worked abroad for more than a year to be exempt from British taxes on their earnings, if they spent 62 days or less on UK soil.
Mick Jagger, speaking from the band’s Munich rehearsals, told Monday’s Times newspaper: “If we did the UK shows it would have meant the entire European tour ran at a loss and we just couldn’t do that, it would have been foolish.”
“To all our UK audiences, we are sorry for the changes foisted on us and the inconvenience caused. Personally, it has been a very difficult decision to make,” Jagger continued. “I was tempted to bite the bullet, but I’m not the only one affected. A Rolling Stones world tour is a two-year project and there are over 200 people involved. I’m really sorry and apologetic to all those who’ve now got to wait until next year to see the shows. We would have played for charity but the Inland Revenue couldn’t bend the rules. I understand that, but it is a shame.”
“I’m not attacking the Labour Government. They have every right to change the tax laws. I don’t have an axe to grind, I’m not a party political animal and the government isn’t run for my convenience,” Jagger added.
The Stones’ decision is the biggest snub yet to Tony Blair’s New Labour ‘Cool Britannia’ ethos. It follows protracted protests by the likes of Oasis, Blur, Primal Scream, Pulp and a host of their contemporaries over the Government’s abolition of grants to students and young people. Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had earlier approached The Rolling Stones to act as cultural ambassadors on behalf of Britain as they toured the world.
The Stones’ press office today issued details of next year’s rescheduled dates. They are Edinburgh Murrayfield, Friday, June 4, 1999 (originally August 24, 1998); Sheffield Don Valley, Sunday, June 6, ’99 (replaces August 26, ’98); London Wembley Stadium, Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12, 1999 (replace August 20 & 22).
Ticket holders should retain their tickets as they remain valid and will be honoured at next year’s shows, although refunds are available from point of purchase. The Stones will also extend the UK tour with additional shows in cities they haven’t visited in over a decade. They promise ‘secret’ gigs, medium-size indoor concerts and some club dates.
The Rolling Stones’ 24-hour information hotline is 0640 765 476 for fans who have tickets to cancelled shows.
The Stones’ Continental itinerary – delayed and disrupted since the original start date of May 22 – has also been hit by new gig cancellations. Gijon, Zagreb, Lyon, Marseille and the last of two Paris concerts have been dumped, due to difficulties arising from Keith Richards’ injuries and recuperation period, rescheduling problems, interference from Football World Cup fixtures and insurance complications. The tour gets underway finally at Nuremberg on Saturday, June 13.
See earlier NME.com stories: [url=] Stones to rally at Nuremburg
NB: For regular Stones Euro tour information visit It’s Only Rock’n Roll – The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe.