A Rock 'n' Roll Masterpiece


Stanley Booth’s True Adventures of the Rolling Stones is a masterpiece of extended reportage. A dispatch from the front lines of a genuine they-sure-don’t-make-‘em-like-they-used-to-anymore rock and roll tour.

This book depicts the Stones at their apex during their 1969 American tour - arrogant, decadent, cruel, glorious and relevant in a way that bands no longer are.


Booth’s intention was to write a book that was like a piece of architecture, something that you could get inside of and walk around. To put the reader in the same dressing rooms, tour buses, recording studios and concert stages as the Stones and their retinue. He succeeded, but took nearly 15 years to carve out the finished structure, wanting the book to be as perfect as possible, sometimes living life on a knife-edge, aware that this might be his only legacy. 
The memory palace that Booth wrought is populated by an astonishing array of singular individuals, deftly brought to life with finely chosen words and observations;
Beside him was Keith Richards, who was even thinner and looked not like a model but an insane advertisement for a dangerous carefree Death – black ragged hair, dead-green skin, a cougar tooth hanging from his right earlobe, his teeth snarled back from the marijuana cigarette between his rotting fangs, his gums blue, the worlds only bluegum white man, poisonous as a rattlesnake.”

and here's Booth describing Ike and Tina Turner;

"Tina Tuner was singing the Otis Redding song, 'I've been loving you too long,' her sleek red beauty shimmering in a black dress, back arched, legs bowed, one arm thrust out, testifying as she had for years to drunks in juke joints and cuttin' parlors. Ike was standing back from the stoplight, small and black and nasty, eyeballs glowing under his shiny, processed Beatles cut, chopping chords as if in anger...As you watched them you couldn't help wondering if Mother Nature were married to the Devil."


There's even a ghost that haunts the books printed passages, Brian Jones. His tragic, at times pathetic, shade is evoked through interviews with the band, his parents and acquaintances. It seems that Jones was the muse which inspired Booth to write the book, quite why is a mystery. The Brian Jones that is depicted in these pages comes across as a spoilt child. Musically talented but selfish, sullen and self-destructive. Doomed to squander what he had to offer.

Booth's architecture is expansive and covers huge ground. The Stones' tour and it's day to day complexities. Booths efforts to secure a contract from the band, (ensuring he could write the book he wanted to). The budding friendship between Keith Richards, Gram Parsons and Stanley Booth. The long day at Altmont which would lead to Meredith Hunter's brutal murder as the band played. Even the quotes which preceed each chapter form a miniature structure. Here, told in multiple voices, is the story of the hazardous and painful development of black music in the United States, exemplified by the short, but dynamic, career of Buddy Bolden.

The Stones in these pages are not rock gods but individuals; foible, vulnerable, subject to fan adulation when in the presence of an idol;

"And even Keith's image- the worst image in the room: Indian, pirate, witch, the image that grins at death - reverted to what it was when he first heard Chuck Berry: a little English schoolboy in his uniform and cap."

The book’s new edition, in addition to the original text, also contains a new introduction by Grail Marcus and an afterword from Booth in which he makes quite clear the cost of producing a masterpiece, especially if you had dipped into the same bag as Keith Richards for too long.

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