No, the Rolling Stones aren’t banning old backup singers (or are they?)

(Updated to include conflicting comments)

We’ve heard weirder rumors than the one that’s been circulating in the Twin Cities in recent days about Wednesday night’s Rolling Stones concert in Minneapolis, but we’re hard pressed to recall when.

The Stones hire local choirs to sing on several of their songs and the rumor has been that a rider in the contract forbids either (a) anyone older than 30 or (b) anyone with gray hair being on stage.

What the reason would be for such a requirement we can only guess. Perhaps the sight of old people on stage would take away from the youth and vigor of the band. You can file that one under “irony”.

Colleague Luke Taylor at Classical 24 tracked down VocalEssence Artistic Director Philip Brunelle this evening.

Now there has been some word on the street that there was a suggestion from the Rolling Stones that the members of the participating choir be of a certain age range. Were you aware of that?

Well, what we’ve known is when they have performed, sometimes they’ve done this for children’s choirs, and I said, “That’s not us.” But they were not, from what I know, they were asking us more just about voice type and, for instance, they needed to have some sopranos who they knew could sing high, so we really kind of went at it more in terms of what we were going to come up with vocally.

One thing that has been floated out there is that there was a restriction on any singers who might have gray hair.

Oh, I never heard that. Never heard that. And then you’ve got a conductor with gray hair, so hey. No. That I never heard.

Brunelle’s apparent denial of the Rolling Stones’ alleged demand contrasts, however, with what he told WCCO several days ago about his instructions from the old timers.

“We want them to be all in their 20s or early 30s, with the exception of the conductor,” Brunelle said he was told.

Brunelle wouldn’t say what song or songs his organization will be backing the Rolling Stones on. It’s safe to say “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is the most obvious one. On the original, it was backed by a children’s choir.

There’s lots more in Luke’s fine interview than silly rumors. Go read it.

  • Al

    In the end, this is Philip Brunelle’s bread and butter: Getting a choir in front of people who wouldn’t normally hear one. I can’t say I wouldn’t have made the same decision, even if it meant cutting out a few choir members.

  • Matt K

    Vocal Essence has more than a few singers that are 40+. I’m sure one could figure out if they were uninvited to the event…