The Night Keith Richards Pulled a Knife on Donald Trump
In 1989, the Rolling Stones played a couple shows in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall (formerly the Convention Center) to finish out their successful Steel Wheels reunion tour.
Like the Miss America pageants, which also take place at Boardwalk Hall, the show was sponsored by the neighboring Trump Plaza Hotels as one of the first major concerts billed as a pay-per-view event.
— Consequence of Sound (@coslive) March 18, 2016
However, one night almost ended in violence when Donald Trump crossed the wishes of the band and gave an impromptu press conference.
In an interview given to Pollster, Stones’ tour manager Michael Cohl said that they only agreed to have Trump sponsor the show provided that he didn’t promote the event outside of Atlantic City or show up to the gig.
Trump didn’t honor the agreement, as Cohl recalled:
At about 5:50 p.m. I get word that I have to come to the press room in the next building. I run to the press room in the next building and what do you think is happening? There’s Donald Trump giving a press conference, in our room!
Cohl confronted Trump, telling him to leave.
Trump obliged initially, but five minutes later he was back in the pressroom continuing to promote the show.
This was when Keith Richards offered to take matters into his own hands:
[The band] call me back, at which point 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.”
Instead of having Richards slice Trump to pieces in his own hotel, Cohl goes up to Trump and uses what would be the reality star’s tag line on The Apprentice:
“You and Marla [Maples, Trump’s second wife] have to go. You’re fired.”
Trump responded unleashing a tirade on Cohl punctuated by threats of violence:
“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.
The Rolling Stones, however, don’t shy away from violence, and after calling their head of security Jim Callahan, Cohl said he was met with “40 of the crew with tire irons and hockey sticks and screwdrivers.”
Trump promptly left, and Cohl remembers it as “the night I fired Donald Trump.”