'Sounding like one instrument, a wild whirling bagpipe, the Stones chugged to a halt. But the crowd didn't stop, we could see Hells Angels spinning like madmen, swinging at people. By stage right a tall white boy with a black cloud of electric hair was dancing, shaking, infuriating the Angels by having too good a time.'
The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones is not just the greatest book about the greatest rock 'n' roll band, it is one of the most important books about the 1960s capturing its zeitgeist - that uneasy mix of excess, violence and idealism - in a way no other book does.
Stanley Booth was with the Rolling Stones on their 1969 U.S. tour, which culminated in the notorious free concert at Altamont. But this book is much more than a brilliant piece of journalism. It gives a history of the Rolling Stones from their early rhythm 'n' blues days in west London clubs to the end of the 1960s; and it interweaves with mastery the two tragic stories of the decline and death of Brian Jones and the terrifying Altamont concert itself, where the Hells Angels, supposedly providing security, ran amok and murdered a member of the audience. Although it took nearly fifteen years to write, the book that emerged has been rightly acclaimed as 'the one authentic masterpiece of rock 'n' writing'.
Stanley Booth was born in Waycross, Georgia, USA. He graduated from what is now the University of Memphis. After living in New Orleans he returned to Memphis and started writing for a living. He wrote about such musical figures as Furry Lewis, Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Otis Redding, and then ventured to London, where, in 1968, he met and became friends with the Rolling Stones. In 1969, Booth accompanied the Stones on their tour of the US -- the one that ended with a killing at Altamont, California. Booth is also the author of a collection of pieces intentionally misspelled Rythm Oil, and a biography of Keith Richards called Keith: Till I Roll Over Dead.
Stanley Booth's book is the only one I can read and say, 'Yeah, that's how it was'.