As the title would suggest, this book is the story of the world’s most enduring rock ‘n’ roll band, the Rolling Stones – in their own words.
In 2002/2003, the Rolling Stones celebrated 40 years together, by embarking upon the ‘Forty Licks’ world tour (I was lucky to see them in amazing form in Prague). During that tour, a team of four interviews, including Sir Tim Rice and Down Loewenstein (son of the band’s financial advisor of three decades), interviewed the group at length, and this book is the result.
The book is divided into chapters, with each chapter covering one period in the Stones’ career. The four members of the group relate their memories, and the narration chops and changes between each member, so that it comes across as a conversation between them, rather than four separate interviews. At the end of each chapter is an essay by somebody who has had some dealing or interest in the band’s career, including Don Was, who has produced some of their albums; Sheryl Crow, who has supported them on tour; and author Carl Hiassen, an avid fan who was lucky enough to meet the band and spend some time with them.
There are mostly good and a couple of not-so-good parts to this book. I liked the fact that the interviews were obviously informal, and each member of the band’s personality came across really well – Mick Jagger being sensible and businesslike, Keith Richards being unconventional and uncompromising, Charlie Watts being always polite and reasonable, and Ronnie Wood leaping about with boundless enthusiasm. Also, the short, ‘choppy’ style of the writing (each excerpt from each member’s interview is no longer than two pages, and sometimes no longer than one sentence, although they all generally have several entries in each chapter). This makes is very easy and quick to read.
However, there is no input whatsoever from Bill Wyman, who was a member of the band for a very long time, and also no input from Mick Taylor who had the unenviable task of becoming guitarist after Brian Jones was sacked, and who subsequently remained in the band for 5 years. It would have been interesting to get their perspectives.
This is not as involved and detailed as other biographies I have read of the band; however it is told in the words of the band members themselves, so is therefore obviously very credible.
It probably goes without saying that, as with all biographies, this is really a book for fans only, but I would add that even if your interest in the band is only a passing one, you would probably find something to enjoy here.