Magazine ‘’MOJO COLLECTION’’ (Summer 2001) had excellent article named ‘’Waterstoned’’, about Stones books. And as they said The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones by Stanley Booth ‘’is THE BEST ROCK’N’ROLL BOOK EVER WRITTEN’’. And anyone who read this book must agree with!
P.S. : > The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones
By Stanley Booth. Random House, 1984. BY ROBERT STONE |
How Stanley Booth's "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones" became, largely, a lost treasure is one of the literary mysteries of the last 15 years. No work on the popular arts so faithfully serves its subject while unpretentiously succeeding in being about so much more. Undertaking to write a book on the group, Booth was witness to the early days of the Stones' transatlantic success, a period that marked their ascent to nearly unparalleled fame and fortune. He was also onstage with them during the violent concert at Altamont, Calif., an event that many students of the era look back on as the moral catastrophe of the '60s hopes and ideals. Booth knows the secrets of the heart as well as he knows rock music. Like Hunter Thompson's, his writing conveys in its style a whole mode of life. But his sense of irony and tragedy is usually keener than Thompson's and the examination of his subject penetrates more deeply. It seems to me that "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones" takes on a dimension similar to that of Michael Herr's "Dispatches." What "Dispatches" did to render the Vietnam War, "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones" does for '60s rock. The anarchy, the ecstasy and the fear of those days are all reflected -- together with the experiences of a Dionysian generation learning the old lesson that nothing is free. Booth's strong, sound prose brings to life the out-of-control process through which an age intoxicated by its own passions found a hard-driving music to live hard by. In all the annals of the '60s, there is nothing on paper that so evokes those days and nights.
Stanley Booth's gripping account of the Rolling Stones turbulent saga
by Chris Parcellin
In 1969, The Rolling Stones embarked on a tour of the U.S. that took them from Madison Square Garden--across America--and culminated in the infamous Altamont Speedway free concert that featured murder and other assorted acts of idiotic mayhem courtesy of world-reknowned motorcycle thugs the Hell's Angels.
The sordid action was captured by Albert and David Maysles camera crew and immortalised on the big screen in the fine documentary "Gimme Shelter" (1970). Also, along on tour with the Stones was a young writer from Georgia named Stanley Booth. His newly republished book, "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones" (A Cappella Books), is almost inarguably the definitive work on a band that has been mythologized since they first achieved mass success in the mid-1960s.
As research for the book, Booth hung out with the band, observed their rehearsals, arena gigs, recording sessions and, of course, interviewed the band extensively. As well as interviewing people like the late Ian "Stu" Stewart, the Stones faithful road manager, who'd once been the band's full-time piano player--before his demotion by shallow, "image-conscious" management types.
Aside from the Altamont debacle, Booth managed to capture the individual Stones as people, apart from their monolithic images. Part of the book deals with Brian Jones and his fall from grace within the band, and the events and circumstances that lead to his ouster from the Stones.
As well as Keith Richards' friendship with Gram Parsons (Byrds/Flying Burrito Bros.) that may or may not have directly resulted in songs like "Honky Tonk Women", and left an imprint on the burgeoning country rock movement.
Booth also delves into the Stones earliest days as a band and the deep roots of their music, to give a much more three-dimensional perspective on the Stones and their blues-based hard rock sound than any writer has managed before or since.
Booth, himself, was a casualty of his time in the Stones' orbit. Exposure to the "Keith Richards Health Plan" lead to drug addiction and a suicidal lifestyle that resulted in a highly-injurious fall from a big rock. Shattered? You bet. Not to mention the financial hurting laid on him by the book's original publisher. "True Adventures..." chronicles all this and more.
Booth has authored other critically-acclaimed books--including a bio of Richards "Keith" (St. Martin's Press) and "Rythm Oil: A Journey Through the Music of the American South" (Da Capo Press).
What made you want to write about the Stones?
STANLEY BOOTH: I had been living in Memphis, writing about the blues, or more accurately bluesmen. After writing about such figures as Elvis Presley, Furry Lewis, and B.B. King, I slowly became aware that was I writing about more than a disparate group of individuals. I was writing about a musical genre and its journey through time. This was in the late sixties. I'd seen the Stones in Memphis in 1965 and knew they had a place in the history of this music. They seemed fiercely (word chosen advisedly) devoted to the essential nature of the blues.
Did you start out writing the book with the idea that you'd write essentially a first-person account and include yourself in the action?
SB: I had no way of knowing whether I'd write a book at all. The suggestion first came from Leslie Perrin, the Stones' English press agent. A wonderful hard-drinking English bulldog of a man, Les took a fatherly shine to me. Later, when I was living in London, he'd have friends over on Friday afternoons. One Friday it would be John and Yoko, next Friday he'd ask me over. Anyway, my plan, such as it was, involved getting the Stones' agreement to be written about by me (so I could get a publishing contract and the money to live on while I wrote a book), and surviving. Nothing more (or less) complicated than that. I did have from the beginning a vague sense that if I wrote a book that told the story of the Stones in America at the end of 1969 and the story of Brian's tragedy, I might have something worth reading. My own involvement as a character was unexpected but in the end unavoidable.
What sort of information was edited out of earlier editions of "True Adventures..." that made it into this one?
SB: In the fifties and sixties a great legal battle was fought to make possible the publication of colloquial language and sexual descriptions. By the eighties publishers were employing as editors recent graduates from the better universities who had little awareness of this battle but a good deal of squeamishness. Polite middle-class boys. Such was my editor on the Stones book. When I wrote of Chuck Berry's letting "nothing, not even prison, stop him from writing about sixteen-year-old pussy," the business end of the sentence was rewired to read, "sixteen-year-old girls." It was that kind of mealy-mouthed thing. Over the course of a book such small changes can pervert the tone. The new edition corrects this condition.
How did writing the book affect you personally?
SB: It nearly killed me, are you kidding?
No. Could you elaborate on that?
SB: In 1969 our little band of pilgrims believed in progress and that we were a part of it. Our beliefs were proved unfounded. Many of us in the seventies sank into depression; drugs and sex became our raisons d'etre. Many died. I was almost one of them. I fell off a mountain and broke my back -- I was on acid and staying with another man's wife while he was away. Maybe I deserved what I got, but in any case it nearly cost me my life. There were car wrecks, near overdoses, absurd chances taken. God would not let me leave is the reason I'm here now.
Hmmm, dark days indeed. Well, was touring with those guys
something you found enjoyable?
SB: Yes and no. It was at various times exhilarating, exhausting, infuriating, amusing. I wouldn't take a million dollars for having done it. I'm not sure a million would entice me to do it again.
Were Mick and Keith much different from their public personas at the time?
SB: People in the public view are always different from the way they're perceived. It must always be thus. Mick is an intelligent, funny, terribly insecure bundle of nerves. Keith is an intelligent, brave, humorous, ironic, bundle of laughs. Neither of them is or ever has been satanic. It's like-- remember Cheech and Chong? Both health nuts who didn't do drugs. The public is always deceived, it can't be helped. If the public weren't deceived show business would end overnight.
I've also interviewed Stones' old friend/author James Phelge and he thought Mick and Keith had been somewhat hard on Brian Jones. What's your impression about all of that?
SB: Hard on Brian? Mick and Keith? All they did was take his band. Well, and Keith took the girl he loved (model/actress Anita Pallenberg). Brian was not tough, like the Glimmer Twins. It killed him.
But you don't really regard Brian as simply being an innocent victim in all this--or do you?
SB: In my view, the only innocent characters are Jesus and his mother. Brian was a sweet, delightful, crazy, fearful, violent, fragile, boy/man possessed by a demon just as much as Robert Johnson ever was.
Fair enough. You were with the Stones at Altamont, what's your take on the whole thing? Were the Stones at fault?
SB: My take on Altamont is that the Stones were extremely naïve. Their intent was generous, the result was calamitous. The Stones themselves never hired the Hell's Angels to be security guards or anything else. They may have inherited the Angels from the Grateful Dead via Dead factotum Rock Scully, a poor source of leadership in my view. (While the Stones were recording in Muscle Shoals, Scully and Stones' road manager Sam Cutler were in California making arrangements for the free concert.) The "festival" was thrown together overnight. The Stones played a great show in spite of being horrified. Sonny Barger, the Angels' Fuhrer, has written (!) about Altamont in his autobiography as if the Angels were merely protecting themselves from dangerous hippies. I wonder if even he believes that. Surely not.
Also, in the book, (Stones manager) Allen Klein's nephew Ronnie Schneider seemed to give you a hard time. What was the deal there?
SB: The deal was, Ronnie saw me as just another payday. He had no idea that such a thing as serious nonfiction writing existed in the context of rock and roll. And maybe it didn't; I've seen damn little "rock writing" that I would call serious. Ronnie was all about deals. I was about staying alive to tell the truth.
Ultimately, do you think Gram Parsons had a big impact on Keith Richards' songwriting?
SB: No, I don't. He may have had some impact. By the time Keith met Gram he was so far into all the things he was into that meeting Jimmie Rodgers or Bessie Smith might not have had much impact. But Gram certainly aided and abetted Keith.
Why do you think those two guys developed such a tight friendship? What drew them together? Obviously, aside from Parsons, Richards had a lot musicbiz types that would've liked to hangout with him. What made Parsons different?
SB: What drew them together -- what drew us all together -- was a sincere interest in music. It was a celebration of wisdom and grace as exemplified by Fred McDowell, Link Wray, Dorothy Love Coates, Howlin' Wolf, Ernest Tubb, and so on. Also, anyone who met Gram and gave him a fair shake had to be charmed by his courtesy and sincerity.
When Keith and Gram met, Gram was a member of the Byrds, which gave him a bit of an entrée. Gram was already acquainted with people such as Fred Neil, whose talent Keith knew and respected. True, a lot of people would have liked to hang out with Keith, but Gram was much more involved in the creation of something new in music than those people. Keith respected his knowledge, his abilities, and his manners.
What do you think accounts for the ongoing fascination with the band? What sets them apart?
SB: Someone asked Keith, "How have the Rolling Stones survived? What is the strength of the Stones?" Keith said, "The strength of the Rolling Stones is Charlie Watts." Charlie's level-headedness, his honesty, his refusal to be dazzled, have anchored the Stones in reality. Then, too, the Stones work terribly hard. They worked hard to learn the roots of their music; they work hard in writing songs and in the studio. I guess you'd say what sets them apart, in addition to their excellent taste, is their dedication and persistence.
Was Ian Stewart was also another source of "level-headedness" in the Stones camp? They appeared to be pretty devastated when he passed away in the mid-'80s. SB: Stu was definitely another source of level-headedness. He was also a monster keyboard player, a genuine boogie king. Stu was a man with an enormous jaw and an even bigger heart.
Mick and Keith's working and personal relationship has been portrayed as being fraught with conflict in recent years. Did you find that to be the case back when you first met them?
SB: It took a long time for their differences to harden. Mick's insecurity was bound to create problems at some point no matter whom he was working with. And Keith was strung out for years; it's not easy to work with a junkie, and I speak from other people's bitter experience with me.
||Well there you have it!I couldn't have said it better myself.It makes me want to read it again!
||Very interesting read. Thanks