Philip Norman’s former offerings of THE STONES, SHOUT!, RAVE ON, JOHN LENNON, and ELTON JOHN are fine rock history recorded by someone covering the music scene of the Rolling Stones since their inception. Norman interviewed Jagger in 1965, and had a firsthand view of the scene that gave us the British Invasion. The author views the story of The Beatles and the Stones as “intertwined”, and tells Mick’s story within this context.
Norman relates that Jagger feigns a type of amnesia on the events of his own life, and once returned a million dollar advance to a publisher for his proposed autobiography. On this rare occasion, money was secondary to having to relate details from his journey to justify the payoff. The story of Jagger’s rock and roll circus life suffers from lack of details from the participant’s own recognizable mouth, which we sense could be far more exciting for some “personal dish” and details to quote from. Unfortunately, few are available, and we are offered a historian’s pastiche of the life of the premiere frontman in rock.
Mick went by “Mike” well into the formation of the Stones, and hated being referred to by his stage name. The blues of Muddy Waters offered the “Rollin’ Stones” their name, and originally they saw little hope of chart success. Morphing from “Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys” into the familiar logo, the group broke into fame as the mirror image of the “safer” softness of the early Beatles. Northern and southern England seemed a proper geographic mirror image to view the two groups in text, linked together in a breath as the greatest musical exports of their generation.
Mick and Keith’s drug bust, early questions of Mick possibly being of mixed race, romantic entanglements, Hell’s Angels, and musical evolution are described faithfully, and with anecdotes from some insiders, as well. Mick’s obsession with Angelina Jolie will attract an audience entertained by today’s tabloid mindset, and “there is nothing wrong with that”. As the pages turned, one could not help but wish that the late Brian Jones would have been the focus of the author’s talents here. A musical genius with more out of wedlock children than guitar strings and no apparent conscience, screamed for more detail. Jones’ relationship with Anita Pallenberg included Nazi SS uniforms, whippings, and bandmate Keith’s pining to “rescue” Pallenberg from Jones, and suffering silently in a brotherly code. All of this, while the group went through a transitional power shift from Jones, to Jagger and Richards, as Jones wasted away before everyone’s eyes.
Mick loved Marianne, who loved Keith. Keith loved Anita while standing in the shadows, and Anita loved Brian. Brian wanted Anita to tie him to their bed, and whip him with both dressed in the Nazi Regalia. To paraphrase J. Geils, love did not only “stink” among the Stone’s crowd, it was positively fetid. Mick’s story is worth the read, and the author did not merely recycle his previous Stones’ work. We are left wanting more of a personal insight and account, but it is not available as of this date, at least. Fans of Mick and the boys will not be disappointed, and it is an overall solid effort from a veteran journalist. Fans also may not be overwhelmed, complete satisfaction having required a more personal glance of the subject’s viewpoint.