In 2008, Martin Scorsese directed a documentary titled Shine a Light. It captured a live performance by The Rolling Stones while they were on another of their many million-dollar-earning tours. The documentary’s title came from a song that was featured on the band’s album Exile on Main St, which was released in 1972. The Stones opened the show with Jumpin’ Jack Flash, which was released as a single in 1968, and closed with (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction which last made waves in 1965.
That, in a nutshell, says a lot about Christopher Sandford’s book on the rock ‘n’ rollers who continue, despite all odds, to roll on and rake in the dough. It’s an interesting story that’s been told a hundred times before by everyone from novelists (The Stones by Philip Norman) to former managers (2stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham) to the band members themselves (According to The Rolling Stones).
And yet, for those still intrigued by the cantankerous foursome, this still makes for a rollicking tale spanning five colourful decades of excess. Sandford effectively reveals how the four musicians peaked in the sixties, but managed to stay in currency, literally and metaphorically, by carefully manipulating their image and pushing a whole lot of merchandise.
We grow together
He shows, rather touchingly, how faithful fans like the idea of growing old with the music they once grooved to as teenagers. Also tellingly, the book reveals how the original bad boys of rock — ‘Would you let your daughter date a Rolling Stone?’ the early promotional ads asked — are more like badly behaved capitalists than anything else. There are a whole lot of amusing anecdotes, from the mythical first meeting of Jagger and Richards to the much-discussed death of founding member Brian Jones. It all makes for a fabulous history, worth reading about again.