Grrr! Backstage With the Rolling Stones

In a city where last year's World Series champs are dominating the American League, the NFL is in preseason and the beloved Patriots are looking good to win yet another Super Bowl, what more can the people of Boston ask for to get them excited these days?

How about the world's biggest rock 'n' roll band?

The Rolling Stones played the first two shows of their "Bigger Bang" tour at Fenway Park this week, and FOX News was invited backstage for an exclusive tour.

Our host was Chuck Leavell (search), the legendary keyboardist and arranger who made his name tickling the ivories for the Allman Brothers ("Jessica"), and has played with the Rolling Stones since 1982.

"Chuck brings a lot to the band," said Mick Jagger. "He has a history with us and he's a terrific arranger and keyboardist," Jagger told us before the show.

Chuck's new jazz album "Southscape" was just released Aug. 23.

We met up with Chuck at The Four Seasons around noon and headed over to the arena in a black Mercedes limousine with dark tinted windows -- traveling in true rock star fashion.

We were waved through security, and no, I didn't say "I'm with the band." For this shoot, I left the cheese at home.

Our first stop was the $1 million stage set.

Stage A is the main set, where the amplifiers, lights, instruments and two levels of VIP viewing are set up for the Stones to play their show.

Film crews, techies, roadies, security guards and various Fenway and tour personnel work in controlled chaos to get ready for the 36,000 fans (who paid an average of $100 to $150 per seat) expected for the show.

Chuck brought us through the private backstage area and up to the set, where he played a bit of "Honky Tonk Woman" and showed us where Mick, Ron, Keith and Charlie do their thing.

A set of stairs on each side of the stage leads up to a bridge, where Mick runs from one end of the stage to the other to great effect during the show.

Jagger also uses the bridge to serenade the two levels of VIP sections that look down on the stage. Being up there during the show is like being in the band, as the spectators lucky enough to get those seats face thousands of screaming fans.

The horn section plays on stage right, and the backup singers are on stage left, right next to Leavell's keyboard rig.

Stage B is a moving platform that extends out into the middle of the arena -- closer to the fans who make this band the highest grossing tour ever.

Since 1990, the Stones have grossed $1 billion from their North American tours, and industry insiders say Jagger, Richards, Watts and Wood are pulling down about $1 million every show.

Fans and critics alike marvel at the Stones' staying power. With a combined age of 275 years, it's hard to imagine how much longer they can keep this up, but when seeing what it's like from behind the scenes, it's hard to imagine life without them.

From the looks of it, thousands of jobs are created for each tour.

From drivers to caterers to overtime for local police, not to mention the hotel and restaurant business a Stones show brings to a city, the Stones are worth every penny.

And talented guys like Leavell get to continue to play the music they love, and be a part of rock 'n' roll history.

Back in Leavell's dressing room, a practice keyboard is set up so Chuck can warm up before the show, and three candles help to set the mood. I was disappointed to see that there was no Evian water marked "for bathing" or a bowl of just green M&M's.

Nearby, Leavell's manager Buck Williams and public relations man Dan Beeson were watching like hawks as our FOX cameras took in the scene.

Outside the dressing room is the wardrobe area, where the outfits for each band member and musician are laid out for the night, and on the outskirts of all of this behind-the-scenes hoopla is "The Rattlesnake Inn," a meet-and-greet setup where lucky fans get to mingle with the band and take pics before the show.

For you Sox fans, The Rattlesnake Inn was set up in the Sox batting practice area beneath the dugout.

After the tour, we got to interview Mick, Ronnie and Charlie, but we missed Keith. Our loss, but hopefully we'll catch up with Keith at another show.

Surprisingly, there was not much to Grrr!, except for the guy who walked up to the secured section during the show and demanded the guard to tell the Black Eyed Peas' lead singer Fergie that he wanted a picture.

The Black Eyed Peas opened in Boston, and Joss Stone and Metallica, along with Maroon 5 are also slated as opening acts.

When Fergie politely refused the Oblivion who wanted the pic, he walked away in a huff and then stared at her the whole rest of the night -- at least during the times he wasn't faking like he knew the words to every Stones song. What a loser.

For what it's worth, whatever you've heard about Jagger, especially in the midst of the non-controversy (at least in my opinion) over his new tune "Sweet Neo-Con," he was extremely gracious and was very happy to appear on FOX News Channel.

In fact, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood were also eager to be on-camera, which from what I hear, is rare.

So, I say thanks to the Stones for the opportunity.

Catch FOX Magazine on Sept. 11 for an exclusive backstage pass, and see "The Real Deal" right here on after it airs on September 11th.

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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine." He also writes the weekly Grrr! Column and hosts "The Real Deal" video segments on