In the middle of this surreal primary season, it’s useful to remember that Donald Trump did not emerge fully hatched from the late-aughts scandal machine. Nope, he’s been angering people for many decades. One such story involves The Rolling Stones and, more specifically, crotchety Keith Richards. The year was 1989, and Trump was accompanied by Marla Maples. The Stones were scheduled to play a show (which would also be aired on pay-per-view) in Atlantic City, and the gig was partially sponsored by Trump, but there was a major problem. The band couldn’t stand the blustery mogul, who agreed to stay out of the way. He ended up making a nuisance of himself anyway.
Before the show, The Stones were scheduled to do a CBS press conference about the pay-per-view aspect of the show. Lo and behold, they showed up to see Trump delivering his own impromptu speech in their room. He was simply rambling about nothing, and the band was not pleased. They summoned tour manager Michael Cohl to diffuse the issue, but Richards already had a hate-on for Trump, who hilariously insisted that folks in the building begged him to speak to the press. Cohl told his story to Pollstar:
I give him the [come here gesture]. “Come on, Donald, what are you doing? A) You promised us you wouldn’t even be here and, B) you promised you would never do this.” He says, “But they begged me to go up, Michael! They begged me to go up!” I say, “Stop it. Stop it. This could be crazy. Do what you said you would. Don’t make a liar of yourself.”
The Stones watched as Trump declined to budge. Things started to get real:
Keith pulls out his knife and slams it on the table and says, “What the hell do I have you for? Do I have to go over there and fire him myself? One of us is leaving the building — either him, or us.”
Cohl set about trying to throw Trump and Maples out of a Trump-owned building, and things did not go well. Trump had stepped back up to the podium to continue addressing the public, yet the scheduled Stones press conference was about to (not) happen. Cohl confronted Trump, who went ballistic:
“You don’t know anything! Your guys suck! I promote Mike Tyson! I promote heavyweight fights!” And I notice the three shtarkers he’s with, in trench coats, two of them are putting on gloves and the other one is putting on brass knuckles. I go on the walkie-talkie and I call for Jim Callahan, who was head of our security, and I go, “Jim, I think I’m in a bit of trouble.” And he says, “Just turn around.” I turn around. He’s got 40 of the crew with tire irons and hockey sticks and screwdrivers.
So, that’s the tale of Keith Richards pulling a knife to dispense with Trump, who called out guys in brass knuckles before leaving in a huff when confronted with hockey sticks. Things haven’t changed too much in 25 years, right? And musicians have always had a problem with Donald Trump.