Rolling Stones superfan Gail Hoffman knows ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ but she loves it

Rolling Stones superfan Gail Hoffman
Rolling Stones uberfan Gail Hoffman at home with some of her art and memorabilia collection. Clockwise from lower left: Bob Gruen photo, Peter Max signed print, misc. books, Ron Wood signed print, misc. records, bobble heads and Lego set, Ron Wood setlist print (from Charlie Watts’ last show) . She is holding drum sticks signed by Charlie Watts, a gift from the Stones crew in Detroit, 2021
Photo by Bob Krasner

There are Rolling Stones fans, there are obsessive Rolling Stones fans — and then there is Gail Hoffman.

When she was five years old, in 1967, her father brought home a brand new Stones single, “Ruby Tuesday” b/w “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and it made a somewhat indelible impression. 

“I’ve loved Mick my whole life,” she admits.

Her grandfather used to give her a dollar every week and she would head to the local Brooklyn record shop to buy a single, but the first album she bought was “Goats Head Soup” after being obsessed with the song “Angie.” It’s not like she was always laser-focused on the Stones, though, as her first concert was Elton John and she didn’t even see Mick’s band until 1989.

“In 1984, I went to Live Aid — the first time I saw Mick — and Keith and Ronnie played with Dylan, but it wasn’t the Stones,” she recalls. “I slept outside at Union Square in ’89 to buy tickets for their six Shea Stadium shows — I went to every one.” 

Hoffman is definitely into classic rock, attending shows by Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Pearl Jam and local hero Jesse Malin along the way — but none of those acts have had Gail in the audience over 230 times.

“In 2022 I did the whole tour in Europe,” she says, explaining that her job as a finance controller for a consulting firm makes it possible for her to work remotely. “In 2021 I did the whole US tour.”

She’s working her way through the current one and if you are trying to spot her, you’ll see her on the rail (hence her nickname, “Gail on the Rail”) in front of Keith.

“That’s my spot!” she proudly proclaims. “Although, at one show, I was on the other side — Mick saw me there and did a double-take!”

Co-workers commissioned a rendering of this imaginary scenario from artist Kelly Place in 2011. (But hey, it could happen ! )
Souvenir guitar picks gifted to Gail over the years from the band. Jagger had a crew member deliver the one that she had made into a necklace in Amsterdam , 2002
Gail Hoffman hit the big screen in Boston in 2013. Photo courtesy of Gail Hoffman
Gail’s daughter Lauren holds the mic for Doug Potash – aka Stones Doug, founder of the Stones fan club Shidobee – during the “Satisfaction” finale that brought all the singers and players onstage at the Bowery ElectricPhoto by Bob Krasner

Hoffman recalls getting front-row seat tickets years ago from her dentist and that was it. “It was amazing — we never sat in bad seats again!” she says.

Her companion is frequently her daughter Lauren Miller, who has inherited Rolling Stones fever and has been to about 135 shows herself.

“Although I have seen the Rolling Stones so many times live and they have been a staple throughout my life, every time I go to a show, it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I get to share with the greatest band and fans in the world,” Miller relates. “I am beyond lucky to have a mother who has gifted me with the opportunity to grow up in this Rolling Stones lifestyle, travel around the world, and share her passion for music.”

Part of the experience for Miller was watching her mom kiss a security guard in exchange for entrance to the general admission area, but that (she says) was a one-time thing. Nowadays, grabbing her spot is a matter of buying the right ticket and getting there early — but just how early, Hoffman won’t say.

Both mother and daughter are part of the “Shidoobee” network, a fan club run by Doug Potash — aka Stones Doug, a wealth manager from Annapolis — that organizes meetups before shows just about everywhere, frequently with Hoffman’s help.

Potash was at the Bowery Electric for two rocking sold-out tribute shows produced by Hoffman around the Brits’ visit to the area. Hoffman matched the singers with the songs, leaving her “quite proud” of the results.

The first, on May 22, was a recap of the “Some Girls” LP and the second, on May 25, was all about the “Let It Bleed” disc. Both shows featured lead vocals by local rockers such as Diane Gentile, Willie Nile, Amanda Cross, David Patillo, Tammy Faye Starlite, Lorne Behrman and Felice Rosser backed by a crack band consisting of Derek Cruz, Johnny Pisano, Randy Schrager, Michael Hesslein, Rob Flores, Danny Ray, Satish and James Mastro.

Dina Regine handled the vocals for ” Get Off Of My Cloud” with Danny Ray on harmonica and saxPhoto by Bob Krasner
David Pattillo ( aka Strange Majik ) shared the mic with Gail Hoffman on “Shattered”Photo by Bob Krasner
Amanda Cross got the crowd going with “Beast of Burden”Photo by Bob Krasner
Sebastian Plante having a great time with “Before They Make Me Run”Photo by Bob Krasner
Lorne Behrman (right ) got close to Danny Ray during “Some Girls”Photo by Bob Krasner
Mick Stitch got all decked out for ” When the Whip Comes Down”Photo by Bob Krasner
Don Dilego performing “Miss You” with the house band, including Randy Schrager (drums) , Johnny Pisano (bass) , James Mastro (guitar)Photo by Bob Krasner

Each show ended with all the singers and musicians — with Hoffman, Miller and Stones Doug — gathering onstage for a raucous version of “Satisfaction” In between, on May 23, was a dance night at Berlin.

Hoffman, who has three Stones tattoos, has an apartment full of Stones-related artwork but she stresses that she is not a collector. Her real collection is made up of memories, and there are some fabulous ones.

Roseland in 2002 was the best show she says she has seen, with a great setlist of rarities in a small venue, and the fact that it was in New York City didn’t hurt.

Close behind were Utrecht in 2003 and Wiltern in 2002, both small venues. She’s not afraid to note that not all the Stones records are worthwhile, but she is fully onboard with their latest, “Hackney Diamonds.”

“It’s great,” she says. “It has a lot of heart.”

On the other hand, she notes, “I never need to hear ‘Start Me Up’ again.”

She has no problem going to shows alone, as there are always people that she knows in the pit with her. Her parents think she’s crazy, but she knows what she likes.

“You can’t help but love that music,” she says. “The Stones sound is pure rock and roll. Nobody fills the stage like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is … Keith Richards. It will be devastating when they are no longer around.”

So far, Ronnie Wood is the only band member she has met, but she knows what she will say to Mick when she finally comes face to face with her idol.

“I’ll tell him how much he has influenced my life”, she says. “And that he is the only man who has never disappointed me.”

Follow Gail on Instagram at @gail_hoffman.