FORDYCE, Ark. — For decades, Arkansas was just a rest stop on the road to rock 'n' roll shows--a quick break between Tennessee and Texas. It was a road Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood found themselves on in the summer of 1975.
Yes. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones.
It was July 5, and the two guitar players were on their way to Dallas after playing a show in Memphis the day before. After driving a few hours, they stopped in the small town of Fordyce for lunch at the 4-Dice.
“There were four dice painted at the top of the edge of the front of the building,” said owner Paul Holt. “That’s why they stopped here, I think.”
The restaurant has been in Holt's family since the 60s, but he wasn't there that afternoon because he was in Memphis.
“I was at the concert the night before,” Holt remembered.
But, he heard all the stories when he got back into town.
“The waitress, she didn’t recognize them or anything, and they started talking to her. And she told them she listened to country music and didn’t really like rock,” Holt said.
Richards and Wood grabbed a bite to eat, talked to a few people, and went on their way, but it wasn't long before their quick stop turned into an extended trip.
Just after lunch, the two were pulled over for reckless driving and taken into custody.
“Well, what do you got?” asked Tommy Mays, who was the deputy prosecutor in Fordyce at the time. “He said, ‘The Rolling Stones,’ and it just went right over my head. What are you talking about?”
Mays had a lot of questions but only asked one.
“'Tell me their names' -- because I knew I had him then,” Mays joked. “'Let me get their drivers license.' He comes back and says, 'Keith Richards and Ron Wood' and I said, ‘oh my Lord.’”
So, he made his way into town to meet the British rock stars. And while they weren't too bothered by the situation, Mays admits he wasn't ready for what happened next.
“The phone starts ringing from England, D.C., the state department, all our congressmen and senators,” Mays said.
Like any arrest or scandal involving celebrities, rumors filled the papers and made their way across airwaves around the world, but Mays and Holt have their thoughts on what really happened.
“We heard that there had been a report of a car that had crossed the center line between here and Rison,” Holt claims. “So, they found the car. It was a really ugly car.”
“The police were, I think, waiting for them outside the driveway of the café,” Mays said. “I think someone called them and said, ‘There's some weird folks.’”
After a few hours, the Rolling Stones' lawyer Bill Carter flew into town, adding another unique wrinkle to the story.
The former secret service agent turned lawyer was born and raised in Arkansas and had only worked with the band for two years when he returned.
“He knew the situation I was in,” Mays said. “He knew I was trying to keep this from being an embarrassing situation and to get these guys out of town.”
And together, the two lawyers got the two rock stars on the road again.
“They had some charges, paid a small fine,” Mays said. “My nightmare was if they plead guilty and I had to prosecute and try The Rolling Stones.”
Mays and Carter stayed in contact and eventually became friends.
The rock 'n' roll lawyer reached back out from time to time, but it wasn't until 2006 that the famous night in Fordyce came back up.
“I just want to tell you Keith’s book is out,” Mays remembered Carter telling him. “I thought it was kind of like, ‘okay…’ and then it dawned on me. I asked him, ‘Is Fordyce in the book?’ and he said, ‘The first chapter.’”
The first line of the first chapter of Richards' book reads: "Why did we stop at the 4-Dice Restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas, for lunch on Independence Day weekend?”
He goes on to talk about that night and how The Rolling Stones were on the police menu across the country, but Mays says most of it isn't true.
“I think Keith has lost a few more brain cells than I have,” Mays laughed. “There’s not a whole lot of truth in it. He embellished it.”
And while the brief encounter may have only been a bump in the road for Richards and Wood, it's now a moment that's become ingrained in Arkansas history.
“I’ll look up and they’ll be a car parked under my sign, taking pictures of the sign,” Holt said. “I’ll go out there and ask them and they’re like, ‘We’re big Rolling Stones fans.'”
“They were kind of the bad boys of rock 'n' roll,” Mays said, “It was history. Certainly, history for a little town like Fordyce.”