Start Me Up

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 11: Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones pe...
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Taking My Dad To See The Rolling Stones For Father’s Day Was Actually A Gift For Me

The concert gave me such a wonderful look at all of the little things that made him the dad I have always known and loved.

My daughters can’t tell you who Mick Jagger is and they don’t know the words to “Start Me Up,” but if they see The Rolling Stones logo — you know, the enormous tongue — on a shirt at Target, they know what that means. “That’s Grandpa’s favorite band,” they say, so sincerely. Not because my dad talks about Jagger and Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood all the time (although he does) or because his house is covered in Rolling Stones memorabilia (although it is), but because this band has become such an integral part of who my dad is, seeing the logo just feels like the ultimate connection to him.

“We should all buy those shirts,” my 9-year-old tells me at the store. “And we should wear them like on Father’s Day and surprise him.” It’s a great idea. But instead, I took my dad to see The Rolling Stones for Father’s Day.

My dad and I are close — our entire family is close — and I know that seeing a concert with my dad is his love language. He loves music. He loves a live show. It’s hilarious to think now that by the time I was 25, I had seen Styx and Foreigner at least four times.

But my dad really loves The Rolling Stones. Mercedes-Benz reached out and offered a lifetime opportunity for me — take my dad to The Rolling Stones here in a Mercedes-Benz suite at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta and drive him there in a gorgeous 2024 Mercedes-Benz EQE-Class Sedan. I couldn’t say no. This was Mick and the boys! My dad saw them for the first time in 1975 when he was 15 years old, and this show in Atlanta would be his 10th time seeing “the greatest rock and roll band in the world.” I knew we would have an incredible time (and Mercedes-Benz is one of those world class venues where you just feel the good vibes), but I didn’t expect the show to peel back so many layers of my dad.

On the way there, I asked him how he even knew about The Rolling Stones and he immediately told me about his cousin Rocky owning the album Sticky Fingers, the one with the zipper on the front. I remember playing with that album all the time, and telling my dad to listen to it. “I didn’t know Rocky was into music,” I said, slowly realizing that nearly all of the stories I know about my dad have been told to me by my mom. Despite our closeness, I’ve never really peppered my dad with questions like I have her, and I know way more about his life once he met my mom than I do from before.

Riding to Mercedes-Benz, I’d ask my dad a question, and his answer would give me four or five more questions. “I saw The Rolling Stones at the Omni in 1975,” he told me, referencing the venue I’ve heard him talk about for my entire life. It was torn down in 1997 and replaced with what is now State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks. “My first concert was there when I was 12 years old.”

The author, circa 1990, wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt as pajamas.
The author at The Rolling Stones concert in the Mercedes-Benz suite.
The author and her dad.

But how, I wanted to know. “How did you get there? Did Granny know? How did you buy tickets?”

He went with his cousins. Sometimes he’d lie about where he really was. He worked at Kroger.

“I thought you worked at Kroger when you were out of the Air Force? Didn’t Grandpa manage a Kroger? Did you work with him?”

“I did, but I started there as a bagger and then a cashier before I went to England,” he tells me. “Grandpa did, but I didn’t work with him. I once saw Phil Collins in the front row at the Fox Theatre with a guy I worked with because he just happened to have an extra ticket.”

We drove closer to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta engulfing us as my dad shared his stories of this city we both love. Of skipping school to wait for bands to arrive in venues, of being included on the cover of a Lynyrd Skynyrd album when a photographer took a picture of the crowd, of seeing The Rolling Stones in 1975 and then again in 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2007, 2015, 2019, and 2021.

So much of my dad’s life story is built around music and live shows — and I knew that — but driving him through Atlanta and hearing little nuggets of his life, like about his cousin Sandra, who took him to so many concerts, tragically dying in a fire, and all the time he spent at Peaches Record Store in Atlanta, escaping into music and finding his own voice was such a gift.

I love meeting my dad where he was and where he is. For whatever reason, my dad has always felt like he was just my dad — that there was nothing before him having a family, like he just appeared as my always supportive, number-one-fan, family-loving dad. My mom had this whole life that I have asked her about a million times, begging her to tell me stories about her aunts and uncles and about her first kiss at an Arsenal football game (that she also snuck out to, what the heck, guys, not once did I sneak out of our house).

But this trip to see The Rolling Stones at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in the spot where he grew up seeing so many of his favorites when it was once the Georgia Dome, gave me such a wonderful look at him and all of the little things that made him the dad I have always known and loved.

I know. It’s only rock and roll, but I like it.