Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news: The Rolling Stones (search) announced a new album and world tour Tuesday with a three-song mini-concert at one of Manhattan's bastions of classical music, the Juilliard School.
The familiar crunching riff of "Start Me Up" (search) was greeted with a roar from hundreds of fans filling Lincoln Center from its plaza to its rooftops, as sixty-something lead singer Mick Jagger launched into the lyrics.
"Thank you very much, guys," Jagger told the cheering crowd at the century-old conservatory on a sunny spring afternoon. "This is one of the earliest concerts we've played."
The brief show promoted the tour that begins Aug. 21 at Fenway Park (search), where the legendary rock dinosaurs will play in front of the Green Monster. Dates in North America will continue through December.
The as-yet-untitled new album is "about 85 percent done," Jagger said. It would be the first collection of all-new material from the Stones since 1997's "Bridges to Babylon."
Prices will average $100-105 per ticket, with seats for the first shows — in Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, N.C., and Calgary, Alberta — going on sale Saturday. Shows will continue next year in South America, Asia and Europe.
The North American dates will alternate between stadiums, arenas and smaller venues. The last Stones tour, in 2002-03, generated $88 million in ticket sales in North America during its first year.
Along with "Start Me Up," the Stones debuted a new song — "Oh No Not You Again" — before tearing into "Brown Sugar." A flub in the new material prompted Jagger to turn a bit professorial.
"I think the examiners at Juilliard would have us come back and retake that one," Jagger said as guitarist Keith Richards shrugged. It was the Stones' first live performance at a press event since they played while riding a flatbed truck through Manhattan — a stunt recreated last year by U2.
Scores of Juilliard students in Rolling Stones T-shirts danced and cheered enthusiastically during the set, as Jagger pranced on stage. Richards, a disciple of "Roll Over Beethoven" songwriter Chuck Berry, traded leads with fellow guitarist Ronnie Wood.
At a news conference afterward, drummer Charlie Watts was asked about his fight against throat cancer. "I'm fine," said Watts, who underwent six weeks of radiation therapy last year.
Watts said this was the last Stones' tour, but his bandmates were quick to contradict that claim.
"We don't plan that this is the last tour, and we certainly don't announce it," said Jagger, calling that "a trap" aimed at getting money from fans. "We take each tour as it comes."
Richards, 61, said money was not the point of this return to the road. "You can have the money," he told a journalist asking about the potential windfall from the tour.