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I highly recommend this book. I hadn’t really listened to the Rolling Stones all that much before reading this, I am now a converted fan (especially of Jumpin’ Jack Flash).
It’s super interesting to see the influences on the band and the music of the era through the eyes of Keith Richards. The way it’s written makes it seem as though he is just rambling on about his life and is talking directly to the reader. Whilst it is quite centred on Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones’ life, you also get a taste of what the times were like and how they changed throughout their career. There’s definitely a big turning point away from the chill happy hippie times after the 1969 Altamont concert. This was an event I had no idea about.
It’s obvious that Charlie Watts is held in very high esteem in Keith’s mind. He passed away recently which was sad. He was definitely the coolest of the group. I had never heard of Ian Stewart but it turns out he was basically the founder of the group.
As I was reading this book I was constantly looking up different artists, songs, events that were mentioned in the pages. I came across a video of the Rolling Stones going on stage to play with Muddy Waters which is electric. Below is a list of stuff I felt the need to look up from just one page:
It also tells you how the process of recording music has changed over the years. For instance one of the tricks you learn about is their use of the humble Philipps cassette recorder. In his own words:
“Playing an acoustic, you'd overload the Philips cassette player to the point of distortion so that when it played back it was effectively an electric guitar. You were using the cassette player as a pickup and an amplifier at the same time. You were forcing acoustic guitars through a cassette player, and what came out the other end was electric as hell.”
“"Street Fighting Man," "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Gimme Shelter" were all made just like that, on a cassette machine. I used to layer guitar on guitar. Sometimes there are eight guitars on those tracks.”
I gave this a 5/5 on Goodreads. Its quite long, but considering the Rolling Stones are such an iconic group, it’s worth reading it.