Headline June 2017
Rich Cohen enters the Stones epic as a young Rolling Stone reporter on the road with the band. Privy to the jokes, the camaraderie, the bitchiness and the hard living, he quickly falls under their sway.
The story begins with the fateful meeting of Mick and Keith on a train platform in 1961 and goes on to span decades, with a focus on the golden run – from Beggar’s Banquet (1968) to Exile on Main Street (1972) – when the Stones were prolific, innovative and at the height of their powers.
The panoramic, stylish narrative covers the drugs and the girlfriends and the rows and the endless reunions, and, of course, the music. In The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones, Cohen’s fresh and galvanising consideration of the band will define, once and forever, why the Stones will always matter.
I love The Rolling Stones and I’m quite partial to a music / rock biography too so this book had instant appeal to me. I saw the Stones recently and picked this book up to read around the same time. And it was a good read, with some great parts. I’ve read a couple of other Stones books including Keith Richards’ autobiography Life and Mick and Keith by Chris Salewicz plus numerous other books and articles.
The challenge I think for any new book on The Rolling Stones is about original information. And for me there was much in this book which had been written before. Essential information I know for anyone picking up this book as their first read about the band, a band who remain popular and relevant given their recent stadium tour.
That said, I particularly liked the first hand accounts in this book, when the author was with the band, offering the reader a glimpse of life on the inside. With an account of the life of the band from its beginning to now the other thing that struck me was the trail of carnage. The author captured and detailed incredibly well the fall out when individuals went from ‘in’ to ‘out’ of the inner circle around the band. Most notably the demise of Brian Jones, but also the women loved and left – Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg to name just 2.
The characters in the band are well described, the calmness of Drummer Charlie Watts who survived this ride seemingly unscathed, the bohemian Keith, his well documented drug history which uniquely served only to elevate and enhance his persona while destroying so many others. And the drive of Mick Jagger; calm, collected, driven… cynical? Bill Wyman doesn’t feature much but I was reminded and stunned (again) of his very public relationship with Mandy Smith who was 13 when she became the girlfriend of the much older musician. And Ronnie, the baby of the group, the new comer. The glamour of the life on the road is picked apart here and the cost is clear.
You tell me. I don’t know. What’s it like to live in a world where the Stones were always there? For you, there’s always been the sun and the moon and the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards in conversation, 1994
The above quote is true for me, but I can’t help but wonder, with a band in their 70s now, is this recent tour their last outing. Will the sun finally set on The Rolling Stones?
An insightful and interesting read documenting the history of one of the greatest bands of our time, with much controversy which could after all make for a great piece of fiction; drugs, death, prison, affairs… the list goes on.