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STONES AXE TOUR IN PROTEST AT BLAIR

The Mirror
June 8, 1998

Band's anger over 10m tax bill

The Rolling Stones have axed this summer's British tour in furious protest at new tax laws.

Mick Jagger ordered the shock cancellation of all four stadium shows planned for August after learning that the band and crew could lose 10million - of their tour earnings to the British taxman. The decision is a huge blow to Premier Tony' Blair's "Cool Britannia" crusade. Foreign Secretary Robin Coob wanted to recruit the world's biggest rock and roll band as ambassadors for British excellence.

The shows - two at Wembley and one each at Edinburgh and Sheffield have now been moved to June 1999, three months into the new tax year.

A technician on the tour told the Mirror last night: "Gordon Brown's last Budget hit us like a shockwave. We have no objections to paying tax but the Chancellor's decsion to scrap releif for those working abroad is being backdated to March."

The source added: "Not everyone in the Stones camp. is a millionaire

"You woudn't believe how many hairdressers stage hands and electricians will be hit for six by Gordon Brown's meddling.

Last night, Mick Jagger apologised to fans. He said: "To all our UK audiences we are sorry for the changes foisted on us and the inconvenience caused"


ANGRY ROCKERS

The Rolling Stones said sorry to their army of fans last night for pulling the plug on their British tour.

One insider told The Mirror: "It's a huge disappointment for everyone as there's no finer feeling for the Stones than playing on home soil-- but Gordon Brown has spoiled that for fans, band and crew."

The band blame tax changes in the Budget last March.

Chancellor Mr Brown closed the loophole which allowed Britons who spend part of the year abroad to escape tax on their foreign earnings.

Mick Jagger and his fellow stars were furious when they realised how the taxman would eat into tour earnings.

Jagger; Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts stand to lose 40 per cent.

Keith Richards, who has dual nationality marrying American model Patti Hansen is not affected.

But it is the Stones' 270- strong crew, many of them with the band for 20 years, who will be hardest hit.

The Rolling Stones, who earned 31 million last year, have already written to Labour MPs demanding a rethink before the Finance Bill becomes Law.

A technician, who has worked on the band's Bridgesto Bayblon tour since it launched in Chicago last autumn, saidl the. threat of a 10million bill, came on top of other troubles. He said: "The British dates in August were supposed to be the last on the tour, but that all changed when Keith RIchards fell off a ladder in-the library of his Connecticut home three weeks ago, breaking a couple of ribs.

"We had to cancel a string of shows across Europe Keith recovered and those dates are now being shoe- into the schedule taking the tour well into September.

"The prospect of a 10 million bill- being added on top of all that aggravation was the straw that broke the camel's back and Mick decided it would be better to pull out."

The technician added: "No one in the group or the crew objects to paying tax, but Mr Brown hasn't taken into account how his changes will affect ordinary people working on tours.

"We all agreed terms with the band and the taxman before we started the tour last year. Then all of a sudden everything is turned upside down. It's simply not fair far"

The Stones have already lined up new dates for the cancelled shows.

Fans who have already bought tickets should hang on to them as they will be valid for next year

This is the new schedule: Edinburghs' Murrayfield Stadium June 4 1999 (originallly August 24, 1998).

" Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium, June- 6 1999 (in place of August 26 1998), London's Wembley Stadium, June 11 199 (August 20;' 1998).

Wembley Stadium, June 12 1999 (August 22, 1998).

A number of secret shows and club nights could be added on to make it up to the disappointed fans.

The group's spokesman Bernard Doherty said: "The knock on effect of all the rescheduling problems, insurance claims for cancelled shows caused by Keith's accident, and tax issues meant that the four British stadium shows already announced for August 1998 will take place next June."

Last week The Mirror's Slicker column told how stars Spice Girls might boycott British concerts bid to beat the taxman.

Ironically it was Labour's last Chancellor Denis Healey who introduced the Foreign Earnings Deduction (FED) tax loophole in 19t7,

Mr Brown had the super-rich in mind when he scrapped the allowance saving the Treasury around 250 million a year.

The Stones have set up a 24-hour information hotline on 0640 765476 for fans who have tickets to the cancelled shows.


No sympathy for Jumping Jack Stash

Editorial

The Rolling Stones glory in the title The Greatest Rock n Roll Band in the World.

But they also claim to be proud to be British. It was because they were part of the British rock scene in the great era of the Beatles that they leapt to fame so dramatically

Even though they are now in their 50s, they keep on rolling along, bringing in more fans for their shows and selling still more records.

They have amassed a vast fortune over the past 35 years and it would be no hardship for them to retire.

Certainly they cannot need to earn more. Yet they have cancelled the British leg of their current tour in protest at the Government cutting tax deals for Brits who spend much of their lives abroad. The Stones say they are doing this not for their own sake, but to help their roadies.

That is not an acceptable excuse. The band can afford to pay a bit more tax and the country needs all the money it - can get.

This is shabby behaviour, even though they say they are 'only postponing their British gigs for a year'. At their age who knows if they will still be able to rock 'n' roll by then.


For more news see IORR 33 mailed out in June, 1998!


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