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Rolling Stones production manager started his career with Minneapolis bands

Minneapolis Star Tribune logo Minneapolis Star Tribune 10/22/2021 Jon Bream, Star Tribune
Mick Jagger, left, and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform during the 2021 "No Filter" Tour opener in St. Louis at The Dome at Americas Center on Sept. 26, 2021. © Jeff Curry/Getty Images North America/TNS Mick Jagger, left, and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform during the 2021 "No Filter" Tour opener in St. Louis at The Dome at Americas Center on Sept. 26, 2021.

MINNEAPOLIS — It's just a few hours before Mick Jagger and company take the stage in Los Angeles, and Rolling Stones problem-fixer Dale Skjerseth is as relaxed as Jimmy Buffett.

"Today I just have to check a few things," said the Stones' longtime production manager, who got his start in the Twin Cities with such performers as Daisy Dillman and Mojo Buford. "We got here at about 9 this morning. You keep your eye on the weather."

No need to worry about the weather at the domed U.S. Bank Stadium. But as the Stones travel the globe, it's Skjerseth's responsibility to see that things run smoothly — like all 23 semitrucks worth of equipment. Stuff happens: A glitch in an electronic keyboard, an inoperative digital panel on the massive video wall, gear getting delayed on a shipping vessel, you name it.

He said Jagger, Keith Richards and others will come to him with questions, but he seldom approaches them with issues.

"You never bring the problem to them unless you have a solution," he said. "With a lot of the bands I work with, they don't need to know. I talk to the accountants, and they know how much we are spending. Problem solved."

Skjerseth — nicknamed Opie because his red hair resembled Ron Howard's character on "The Andy Griffith Show" — relies on common sense, politeness and a can-do attitude.

"Opie is very level-headed," said Minneapolis promoter Gene Hollister, who worked with Skjerseth on Ozzfests.

For Hugo-reared Skjerseth, 59, it's been on-the-job training since he hung out at a White Bear Lake instrument shop in high school, learning to tune guitars. "I couldn't play an instrument so I saw [being a roadie] as a way to get into the business."

Starting in 1979, he worked with Twin Cities bands and sound and light companies. At a wedding, he met a Sha Na Na crew member; that led to a touring job. By '84, he was living in Los Angeles and working for Van Halen. Later came jobs with AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses.

He joined the Stones in 1994 as stage manager and climbed the ladder to production manager. He's now based outside of Phoenix.

The Stones played last Sunday in Los Angeles, then their crew arrived in Minneapolis Tuesday to start setting up at U.S. Bank Stadium. Skjerseth was planning to show up Friday morning for Sunday's concert.

He'll watch the first three or four songs from the wings to make sure everything is OK. Then he'll head to a production office in the stadium to check details for future shows before preparing for the post-concert load-out.

Skjerseth sees himself as a head coach, overseeing coordinators who handle lights, sound, security, etc. He's aware of the acoustic reputation of U.S. Bank Stadium concerts. "Last time I was there, I had no issues," said Skjerseth, who worked a Guns N' Roses show there in 2017. "I have no fear of our sound engineer making it sound fantastic, like he does every venue we play."

His biggest challenge may be dealing with ticket requests from family and friends.

"I've weeded that down over the years. How drunk you leave the show is if you're going to get tickets next time," he said with a hearty chuckle. "I think I've got 12 or 16. That's all."

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