Perhaps you’ve seen the TV commercial: A shapely flight attendant delivers tequila sunrises to the hangers-on aboard the Rolling Stones’ 1972 tour plane while the Stones’ song “Miss You” plays in the background. The caption reads: “In 1972 the Rolling Stones brought Jose Cuervo on tour. Rock ’n’ roll would never be the same.”
I know that story. In fact, I wrote that story.
Several years ago I wrote about the tequila sunrise for National Geographic Assignment and for the Marin IJ. Both stories now serve as the primary sources for the Wikipedia entry on the drink. But don’t take my word for it — the Huffington Post and Yahoo Food both realized it, too, as did many other news organizations. So, when Market Watch reporter Charles Passy said on Wall Street Journal TV, “We don’t know for sure if the tequila [the Stones] drank in their Sunrises was Jose Cuervo,” I had an answer.
Yes we do.
I contacted Bobby Lozoff, the inventor of the Trident tequila sunrise at his home in Hawaii and asked him.
“It was Cuervo white for sure,” Lozoff says. “Because that was our well tequila. And I know it was their first sunrise because I talked them into it. [Mick Jagger] wanted a margarita.”
Lozoff, 68, now spends his time doing computer IT work. But back then he was the resident Trident mixologist.
“There weren’t too many reputable mass marketers of tequila at the time. We poured more tequila in the late ’60s and early ’70s then the rest of the state.”
But, don’t just take Lozoff’s word for it.
“I worked for Bill Graham,” says San Anselmo’s Jerry Pompili. “We didn’t have a lot of titles back then, but I ran a lot of shows all the through the ’70s. I did a lot of hiring and staffing and training. Bill used to say, ‘We aren’t in show business, we are in the business of public assembly.’ We put asses in the seats and we did it better than anyone else.”
Pompili, 74, has been called many things by many publications, Graham’s “security chief” and “right hand man” among them.
“They [the Stones] had all moved to the South of France, and they called me and had me come down and stay with them,” Pompili says. “Prior to that I had met them in 1969 in Oakland and formed a relationship with Keith Richards.”
The infamous Stones 1972 U.S. tour supporting the album “Exile on Main Street” began with shows in the Pacific Northwest and then an eight-show, eight-day marathon spanning the length of California. During which, the Stones attended a party at the Trident restaurant in Sausalito hosted by Graham.
“Two things were going on. One, I had this relationship with the Stones. And then I had a relationship with the Trident,” Pompili says.
The Trident was known in its day for having attractive waitresses. “The most beautiful woman in the Bay Area worked there,” Pompili says.
So when it came time to have a party for the band, there was really only one place to go.
“I went out there early. I was trying to keep everyone loose. As it got closer and closer to the time that the band was going to arrive, people were getting stiffer and stiffer. And I knew these guys. If they walked in and everyone was standing there frozen, staring at them — especially Jagger — they would just turn around and walk out,” he says.
So Pompili had everybody move something — salt shakers, candles etc., from one room to the other, so when the band walked in everyone was moving around and no one had time to stare.
“It was a great party. We had a great time. And that is when Bobby did the tequila sunrise thing.”
But the the commercial isn’t accurate.
“It’s the wrong music,” Pompili says, noting the real story is in “S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones” by Robert Greenfield. Pompili is quoted throughout. And in some places, the “dicier bits,” he claims that he is the one referred to simply as a “Stones insider.”
As for the reopened Trident, Lozoff says, “The era and thrill are gone. It was the eccentric hippies, especially the girls, that accounted for the ambience.”
Ironic, then, that it is a man and his drink that ultimately stand the test of time: Bobby Lozoff’s Tequila Sunrise, the drink that both the Rolling Stones and Jose Cuervo acknowledge fueled their infamous 1972 tour.