Why The Rolling Stones Launched Their 1989 Stadium Tour With a Surprise Club Show in Connecticut [PHOTOS]

By Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff)

The Rolling Stones’ 1989 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tour was massive, lasting over a full calendar year and spanning the globe, from Los Angeles all the way across the U.S. and Europe to Tokyo. They played three sold-out nights at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. on the tour, and played huge stadiums and arenas at almost every turn.

But the tour started out much smaller than that.

Toad’s Place began the day on August 12, 1989 as a small nightclub in New Haven, Conn. that sometimes attracted big-name stars. Brian Phelps, the venue’s then-co-owner, got the surprise of a lifetime when it learned that the Rolling Stones would like to play a last-minute show there to kick off their world tour. He got the call on a Friday; by Saturday, the show was taking place.

According to the New York Times, the band had been rehearsing at the nearby Wykeham Rise School for six weeks prior, and wanted to put on the relatively small show as “a thank-you to Connecticut for the hospitality.”

About 700 fans showed up to the performance – a puny crowd by Stones standards – and paid $3 – perhaps the best $3 of their life.

Check out some rare photos from the concert below.

Mick Jagger, left, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones jam during an impromptu concert by the band, Aug. 12, 1989 at Toad's Place, a New Haven nightclub.  The surprise set attracted 700 fans who paid $3 each for their tickets.  Drummer Charlie Watts is seen in the background.  (AP Photo/Dimo Safari) Mick Jagger, left, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones jam during an impromptu concert by the band, Aug. 12, 1989 at Toad’s Place, a New Haven nightclub. The surprise set attracted 700 fans who paid $3 each for their tickets. Drummer Charlie Watts is seen in the background. (AP Photo/Dimo Safari)

The Rolling Stones perform during an impromptu concert Saturday night at a New Haven nightclub in New Haven, Conn., Aug. 12, 1989.  (AP Photo/Dimo Safari) The Rolling Stones perform during an impromptu concert Saturday night at a New Haven nightclub in New Haven, Conn., Aug. 12, 1989. (AP Photo/Dimo Safari)

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs during an impromptu concert by the band, Aug. 12, 1989 at Toad's Place, a New Haven nightclub.  The surprise set attracted 700 fans who paid $3 each for their tickets.  In the background are, left to right, Ron Wood, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman.  Drummer Charlie Watts is in the background.  (AP Photo/Dimo Safari) Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs during an impromptu concert by the band, Aug. 12, 1989 at Toad’s Place, a New Haven nightclub. The surprise set attracted 700 fans who paid $3 each for their tickets. In the background are, left to right, Ron Wood, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman. Drummer Charlie Watts is in the background. (AP Photo/Dimo Safari)

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