||It's only a bar, but...
Stone's Place is named after the owner, who was named after the band. Now Jerry Stone finally has a place to relax after a lifetime of rock 'n' roll excess
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Jerry Stone in his bar: It has been open for a year but has only just been granted its liquor licence. Stone says he is already being told he should open a chain of Stone's Places.
He is aptly named, has the creased laugh lines, the lips, the paraphernalia, the rock 'n' roll stories, and, definitely, the rock 'n' roll attitude.
Now, he even has the bar.
Jerry Stone is the untucked man walking around, introducing himself to patrons as the owner of Stone's Place, and is as close as you can get to the real deal, Mick Jagger.
"I'm not sure what it is. It must be my swollen lips," says Stone, who says he is often told he looks like Jagger. (He only once pretended he was a Rolling Stone, to get VIP attention at Graceland. "There was such a big lineup. I went back to my hotel, called and said I was a band member of the Stones, and they sent a limo to pick me up. I got a private tour of Graceland. It was brilliant!")
It's late Friday night and the large venue on Queen Street, just west of Dufferin, is packed with black-clad music industry types celebrating the opening of Stone's Place.
Stone bought this huge building two years ago, in an area that could only be described back then as "undesirable," and which still very much has to fight that reputation.
(Stone is not really Jerry's last name. "Man, I've had the last name Stone for 34 years. I don't even remember how to spell my real last name.")
On this night, Stone's Place is as desirable as a place can be on a weekend night in Toronto. We're asked at the door if we're "on the list," then told, "Sorry -- the bar is full to capacity."
Fortunately, the bar has just opened to the public, Thursday to Saturday nights, which means the doorman is new at this, so with a quick smile and a half-hearted plea, he bends. We're allowed in.
Stone's Place has actually been open for more than a year, but only for special occasions, because Stone could only get a liquor licence permit for special occasions.
People will say that Stone's Place used to be an illegal boozecan. "Nah, it was really just a place letting people off the street. We went past hours some times," Stone laughs. "But now we're official."
Stone's place, finally, has a liquor licence.
"I'm 54," says Stone, laughing in a crackly voice, as if he's just gotten out of bed. It's Monday when we talk, just after noon. "I'm a baby. I'm just starting up again."
Stone has been a music fan his entire life. "I picked up a guitar at age eight, thanks to Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show, man."
His music career came to an abrupt halt at age 19, when his girlfriend at the time told him she would leave him if he continued in his band.
"I don't think she could handle all the women," he says.
Stone is a throwback to the work-hard, play-hard musicians of days gone by. "Some of these new musicians can't even hold up to me, and they're half my age. They don't know how to party right.
"I have a love child out there somewhere," he continues, when asked if he has family. "I haven't seen her in 24 years. Hey, if you're reading this, come by and say 'Hi.' "
There are no Elvis busts in Stone's Place, but hundreds upon hundreds of Rolling Stones' photographs and posters on the wall. (On weekend nights there is also a Rolling Stones cover band.)
"It took two 56-foot moving trucks to get my collection here," he says. "I have enough Rolling Stones' stuff for 10 of these places. I spent 38 years collecting."
It's the second largest Stones collection after that of Bill Wyman, the band's former bassist.
Stone's favourite piece in the collection -- which he keeps in his apartment, located on the floor above the bar -- is an empty bottle of wine. "I was out to dinner with Ronny Wood and his son had just got engaged, so we were ordering all these bottles of wine. I suggested that everyone sign it. Ronny said, 'Brilliant!' so that's what we did. Even the bodyguards signed it."
Stone first met the Stones in 1965, after being introduced to them by a woman named Luba, president of their fan club. "But I really didn't get to know them until their last tour. I got to hang out with them for six weeks. Which meant I punched the clock getting home at 4 a.m every morning," he says, again with that laugh.
Though Keith Richards is his favourite band member, he especially hit it off with Wood, a classically trained painter who hired Stone to curate his 1998 art show in Toronto.
"I needed money," said Stone. "So I think he was just giving me something to do. He just said, 'It will be all right.' I had no idea what I was doing."
The Stones haven't been by Stone's Place while in town rehearsing for their next tour, but the bar is catching on with the public. Stone has received phone calls from all over the world about his bar, and tour groups want to know if they can put Stone's Place on their list of tourist destinations.
"I asked them if that meant I would have to get up early. It's just like Graceland," says Stone. "People tell me I have to open a franchise of this in California. But don't even say the words 'Planet Hollywood' to me. Don't go there. We have all types coming in here now. Lots of television personalities, everyone in the music industry, to Supreme Court judges to Crown attorneys to tattoo artists. We even had a heart specialist in here. I say to the lawyers and heart specialists, 'Hey, I might need you some day.' "
The 8,600-square-foot venue is also starting to be booked for weddings and corporate events. "We've also had three wakes in here. All for musicians," he says. (Tip: For musicians, he cuts a very good deal to rent out the place. For corporate clients, it costs $1,500.)
The Al Pacino and Jackie Chan movie wrap parties were held here.
Stone, who says his only vice now is smoking, is loving life.
"If you can't be successful in a band," he says, "you can at least have a successful bar."