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The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: Happy24 ()
Date: May 23, 2014 12:07

I am reading Bill's book. I read it some ten years ago when I was getting into the Stones and I don't really remember what I thought about it. Now, when I read it the second time, I have to say I don't like it at all. It may be partly due to the fact that I don't have it in English and I read a translation, which might be quite horrible. There are some really bad grammatical mistakes that you don't normally see in books, so the overall quality of the translation might be very poor. That is hard to judge. I am trying to get the original, but with no luck so far. If I get it, I will probably give it another read just to see if it really is that bad.

The reasons why I don't like it are numerous. Where to start? In general the book is really boring. It is unbelievable how boring book can be writen about being a Rolling Stone in the sixties by a man who was right in the middle of it all. I am sure that even the most exciting life gets to be a routine after a while, but I assume that if I wanted to write a book, I would do it because I would have interesting stuff to fill it with and I would want to make it as interesting as possible. As I said, eventhough being a rock star (in the sixties) might seem to be the most exciting thing, I understand that it gets boring when you have it each and every day, but among the obvious "routine" of concerts, recording, screaming girls, grouppies that were happening each and every day, a lot of really memorable stuff was happening. Reading Bill's book I feel like I am still reading some 20 pages over and over again.

It is overloaded with "facts," which is probably intentional, Bill obviously wants to show off what an incredible record of everything and what a great memory he has, which he both emphasises on more than one occasion. The problem is, that he really doesn't distinguish what is important / interesting and what is not. When somebody writes a book, he should have a reader in mind. Just to plainly state all facts available is really not all that is needed to write a book (in my opinion).

He writes exactly as much (or as little) about say an RCA recording session and about what he had for dinner on some exactly specified date. A lot (most) of the facts stated in book can not be really verified by the reader. Things like what color of hair had this or that girl in this or that city with which he spent the night on this or that date and what they talked about meanwhile, how much money he had on his account on which date and how much was it ten days later. But when there is something you can verify or at least count for yourself among those hundreds and hundreds of useless figures, you find out that the accuracy is more than questionable. An example: just yesterday I read how many instruments with the name of the band was sold (?? What does that mean? Bad translation? I have never seen a guitar with Rolling Stones writen on it.) and that they got 5% from it. He writes that 5 906 guitars, 1 871 twelve string guitars, 1 281 small guitars and 5 598 harmonicas were sold. The 5% profit for the Rolling Stones was 314£. If 314 is 5%, then 100% is 6 280. So it means that the whole profit from selling 14 565 instuments was 6 280£. That is 0,43£ per instument. The whole profit, not those 5% fot The Stones. Hmmm...I have my doubts.

And I suspect that more than some of those hundreds and hundreds of figures there are just as accurate. He writes on and on about how much money was there exactly on which date on his account, on The RS accounts... Basically how there were no money at all. So you read that he had some hundred pounds or so on his account and on the next page you read how he bought a house. Then on next 20 pages you read 50 figures how there was nothing on his account, then he bought a house for his parents. Okay, we know that Klein was holding the Stones' money and that they generally felt underpayed (financially dissatisfied, philosophically trying), that they had problems getting them, but someone who has almost no income, as is constantly stated can not buy a house for himself, another for his parents, fancy car and I don't know what else within the span of some two years. I feel that some important information is missing here.

At the beginning of the book, where Bill writes about his military service in Oldenburg, he says it was some 80 miles from the Russian border. Come on, someone who has been throught this historical period and someone who has travelled the whole World countless times around should at least know that East Germany was not Russia. And the fact that Russia had it under its influence doesn't make an East German border a Russian one. The West Germany would have to be USA then... Or is that a bad translation?

And then all those women...Okay, we get it, Bill had tons of them but to read "I met a nice blonde there, we spent a night together" on pretty much every page is boring, absolutely unnecessary, disgusting in a way. The thing is that just like with many other things you pretty much read just the same sentence over and over again and that's it. Not that I would want details, really not. But there are many other ways how to write that the sexual stuff was really important and frequent in his life. I remember that when I read BB King's autobiography I was surprised how open he was about those things, but he wrote it on...how to say it...human level. It was open, lively, but somehow natural and actually not embarrassing at all. Bill pretty much only gives you the figures - the date, the age, color of hair...next one...And then on the next page you read how some magazine described him as a perfect and caring husband and family man. Bill really likes to write those favourable quotes, that really don't go along with what you read.

Again - just yesterday I read how he got a gonorrhea from some girl. Then his wife got it from him. They both got shots of penicilin. On the next page you read how they strolled around Los Angeles, did some shopping, then got the last penicilin shots and flew home. That is all about it you get to know. Again, not that I would want to know details, but if this is all he can say about it, it can just as well be omitted at all. Just like 99% of the stories actually. First I seriously doubt that when a women gets a gonorrhea from her husband she is just perfectly all right with it and strolls around the town with him as a happy couple and as with everything in the book I don't really see a human being behind it all.

Not to mention how embarrassing reading it must be for his former wife ro read about those hundreds women Bill claims ho have slept with. Or how embarrassing it should be for his son. At the beginning of the book Bill thanks his son for helping him with writing the book. The idea that I would help my father to write about such things makes me more than very uneasy. Well, I am not a rock star's son...Thanks God.

Somebody could say that writing about those women is being sincere. I don't think so. When I read the autobiographies of BB King, Clapton, Johnny Cash, I found those very sincere, the people were really comming out from the pages as lively human beings and the books were really nice to read and I absolutely don't care if all the facts were accurate or not. Of course one has to compare it with Life. Keith's book, as much as it might be a pure fiction here and there, makes for very lively and entertaining reading (well, If I could I would loose all those F words and the book would be even much better). Bill's book is just tons of statistics that noone can verify and that don't tell pretty much anything. They could have been writen by anyone. Or by a machine. I dare say that from all those many many biographies and autobiographies I have read this is the worst one by far.

Together with this book I am reading The Rolling Stones Gear by Andy Babiuk and it is as big contrast as it can be. the RS Gear book is incredible. I bought it since I am really into guitars and stuff, but eventhough you get hundreds and hundreds of pages loaded with great gear information and amazing pictures, you also get the whole Rolling Stones story with the emphasis on instruments obviously, but really focussing on the music as such and how and under what circumstances it was created. There are a lot of those famous "stories" too, but told in a nice absolutely "non-tabloid" way. No seeking for sensation, just a lovey and lively book loaded with unbelievable amount of information and facts. And I really don't care if there are some minor mistakes there. Of course there are, there have to be :-)

So those two books, eventhough are writen and tell the story from very different angle have one feature in common - both are from the very beginning intended to be loaded with facts. They are really the exact opposites in the quallity of doing it.

As I am sure most of the people here read Bill's book, I would like to know your opinions :-)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2014-05-23 12:19 by Happy24.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 12:23

There are probably more factual errors in Rolling Stones Gear than there are in Stone Alone. tongue sticking out smiley

The bits about the women and the money in Bill's book does get boring, but everything else is quite unique and stuff that you wouldn't get from an outsider.

Houses can be bought on credit.

Also, keep in mind life as a Rolling Stone was probably generally quite a questionable experience, how could it not be with all those willing girls throwing themselves at you?

Charlie excepted of course.

Plus, like you say, it's a translation.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2014-05-23 12:25 by His Majesty.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: Rollin92 ()
Date: May 23, 2014 12:27

Don't forget that the way Bill functions/processes information is completely different to the rest of the Stones. I'm a huge Bill fan, over the rest of the band,but even I found Stone Alone a struggle. Honest answer is it was written over 20 yrs ago and Bill didn't really know how to write a book. I don't think it was showing off.

Your comparison to Babuik is moot because Stones Gear was not Babs first book whereas Stone Alone was Bills. Rolling with the Stones and Bills other books are better written than Stone Alone, so I suggest you take a look at those to judge his writing. I found them to be informative, interesting and nowhere near as dry as Stone Alone.

One thing I will say that Alone is not as interesting or entertaining as life but at least with Bill what you see is what you get, not some pirate facade. In all honesty I was far more disappointed with life as it changed my opinion of Keef.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: shattered ()
Date: May 23, 2014 12:28

Is the book out of print?

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: Happy24 ()
Date: May 23, 2014 12:37

Well, as I wrote, the language might has to do a lot with it. I read all those other biographies and autobiographies in English and when I read those I liked best I really could almost hear the person telling it (I know, those books are often actually writen with more than a big help of other writers, but still...)

When I read Life, eventhough the frequency of the F word was a bit too much for me, it really felt like Keith was telling the story. After I read it in English, I actually got a translation as a present. I read 2 pages just out of curiosity and it was absolutely horrible.

And that is probably my main problem with Bill's book (besides the women and money stuff, which I doubt can sound much better in the original) - that when I read it, it feels absolutely lifeless, I just don't see a human being telling a story. And that really might be due to the translation. Or not. I would have to really read the original, which I hope will get my hand on one day.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 12:44

The book is very dry even in english. grinning smiley

I think it's great though as it does give you an inside view of the band and their interactions, good times and bad times, recording sessions, inner tensions, irritations etc.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: liddas ()
Date: May 23, 2014 13:19

If there is one thing where both Bill's and Keith's books are the same, is the hurried way they give account of Ian's "termination".

I bet they are still embarrassed. Rightly so, it was the very lowest point of their entire career.

C

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: stonehearted ()
Date: May 23, 2014 13:30

He needed to write the book so that he could finally leave the Stones. It was a way of distilling his experience into something tangible, so that he could ceremoniously bid farewell to that part of his life. I believe a lot of the material in the book was taken from diary entries--in fact, the book overall does read like a mammoth series of diary entries, with lots of mundane observations that would not be of interest to those who hadn't experienced his life as he had. But, at least he wrote his book, unlike some others we could name....

Disappointing or not, how many here would pass on reading the long-rumored sequel, Stone Still Alone?

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 13:42

Bill and Keith's books are similar in that they both have much in the way of moaning in them. grinning smiley

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: Erik_Snow ()
Date: May 23, 2014 14:11

I didn't mind the book because it's such an obvious diary-book with a different approach than the typical selfbiography written in retrospective view when the author has better oversight of what was important and what was not. Really dry though

And I thought it was funny at times.....Bill Wyman focusing on that he "couldn't get a decent cup of tea" on a certain night and things like that, funny because it's sounds so typical dry Brit person, like a cartoon figure. I didn't mind reading the book it had it's moments and one got to see RS from a special view, but it's not a book I expect many people to enjoy



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2014-05-23 20:14 by Erik_Snow.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 14:30

Quote
liddas
If there is one thing where both Bill's and Keith's books are the same, is the hurried way they give account of Ian's "termination".

I bet they are still embarrassed. Rightly so, it was the very lowest point of their entire career.

C

The more revealing account of that is from non stones, like ALO's account of it.

It was not that ALO sacked Stu, it's that the others didn't really protest about his suggestion that Stu step down from public view... they went along with it and Stu had to accept his reduced musical role and get used to being their general dogs body.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: liddas ()
Date: May 23, 2014 15:08

Quote
His Majesty
Quote
liddas
If there is one thing where both Bill's and Keith's books are the same, is the hurried way they give account of Ian's "termination".

I bet they are still embarrassed. Rightly so, it was the very lowest point of their entire career.

C

The more revealing account of that is from non stones, like ALO's account of it.

It was not that ALO sacked Stu, it's that the others didn't really protest about his suggestion that Stu step down from public view... they went along with it and Stu had to accept his reduced musical role and get used to being their general dogs body.

That's exactly it!

If the Stones reaction had been "no way, Stu remains", I am sure that ALO wouldn't have lost sleep. It was a stupid suggestion in the first place. Who could care if the Stones were a 5 or 6 piece band? Who could care how good or bad looking the piano guy was? More so when you already have Jagger and Brian on board?

No excuses, that day they betrayed a friend, a band mate, the man that started it all, for the most futile of reasons.

No wonders they still feel like shit when they have to write about it.

C

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 15:37

Quote
liddas


No excuses, that day they betrayed a friend, a band mate, the man that started it all, for the most futile of reasons.

Oops, you made a lil mistake there. winking smiley

Better to say "one of the men that started it all" I think. smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2014-05-23 15:48 by His Majesty.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: duke richardson ()
Date: May 23, 2014 15:39

Bill's book is good for the Stones history ..it just isn't about music very much..

regarding Stu, his role changed but he was still part of the band so he wasn't 'terminated'. seems to me he became even more important. and he knew his limitations as a piano player, knew their music would require more than he could play for piano parts.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 15:47

Quote
duke richardson
Bill's book is good for the Stones history ..it just isn't about music very much..

regarding Stu, his role changed but he was still part of the band so he wasn't 'terminated'. seems to me he became even more important. and he knew his limitations as a piano player, knew their music would require more than he could play for piano parts.

At the time, I doubt any of them had any idea of the vast scope their music would go on to cover.

It was purely mostly about looks and partially about too many names for the kids to remember. I think the last point was part a handy excuse for ALO, but it does have some validity to it.

Bill's book, like Barabara Charone's Keith book, is also great as a Brian Jones biography... They both feature him a lot. cool smiley



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2014-05-23 15:53 by His Majesty.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: hot stuff ()
Date: May 23, 2014 16:06

Looks did count back in the day...Record companies wanted
clean cut good looking boys...And even Jagger didn't fit the bill.

Some record companies didn't like the way Jagger looked and questioned finding
another singer.

Having Stu in the band with Jagger would make it even harder to sign them to a record deal, book
them to tv shows or to be able to go national.

Image was everything and AOL was the master turning the Stones into the anti Beatles.

Having Stu would made that impossible back in the clean cut days of the late 50's and early 60's!.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: duke richardson ()
Date: May 23, 2014 16:07

Quote
His Majesty
Quote
duke richardson
Bill's book is good for the Stones history ..it just isn't about music very much..

regarding Stu, his role changed but he was still part of the band so he wasn't 'terminated'. seems to me he became even more important. and he knew his limitations as a piano player, knew their music would require more than he could play for piano parts.

At the time, I doubt any of them had any idea of the vast scope their music would go on to cover.

It was purely mostly about looks and partially about too many names for the kids to remember. I think the last point was part a handy excuse for ALO, but it does have some validity to it.

Bill's book, like Barabara Charone's Keith book, is also great as a Brian Jones biography... They both feature him a lot. cool smiley

correct ..1963...they couldn't have known.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 16:12

ALO's Stoned (especially) and 2Stoned are really great for insight in to that time.

Great because it is not only he who tells the story, but he also includes other peoples quite detailed quotes on particular things a lot, even when they totally contradict or call him out on things.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: treaclefingers ()
Date: May 23, 2014 17:54

To call it a big disappointment I think is incorrect.

That would be intimating that you had high expectations from it in the first place.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: LuxuryStones ()
Date: May 23, 2014 18:03

I liked the plain facts, written in an incredibly boring way, it made it almost juicy. Fun to read.
A pity Bill didn't write much about the Taylor years.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 18:03

Quote
LuxuryStones
I liked the plain facts, written in an incredibly boring way, it made it almost juicy. Fun to read.
A pity Bill didn't write much about the Taylor years.

Do you have Rolling With The Stones?

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: Shantipole ()
Date: May 23, 2014 19:38

I didn't mind it. Two little tidbits I wasn't aware of until I had read it was that they had scheduled two dates at the Coliseum in Rome and that they had offers to play in Zaire! That would have been interesting.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: 71Tele ()
Date: May 23, 2014 20:09

It's a horrible book, with more obsessive detail about his bank account than about the music.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 20:18

No, no, it's one of the best stones books EvEr!

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: 24FPS ()
Date: May 23, 2014 20:20

For me it was the first glimpse into life from someone who was there. When he describes the madness as the curtain opened, I felt it. We got that later with Crossfire Hurricane. Everything was Bill's perspective, of course, which I still found fascinating. I liked his breaking down of the various financial positions in the band by 1969. It made you realize that Charlie and Bill absolutely had to tour to make a living. Brian couldn't have been in any better position than Bill & Charlie, because he didn't have songwriting royalties either.

Which also brings us to that famous mid-80s period when Jagger refused to tour. Charlie and Bill, and Ronnie, would have been hurting for cash. Then the Steel Wheels tour made them all flush again.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: Wroclaw ()
Date: May 23, 2014 20:39

Having to choose between a "field notebook converted into a book" and a standard, professionaly edited and written research book-I go for the first. The commision percentage about guitars and the DDR vs USSR should actually tell you if how much you LOOSE when you read a book that was repeatedly worked on. Here you read things as BILL saw them in real time. Aint this what so many of us really want to know? I mean... the alternative is the Justin Biber/Brittany Spears type of PR-claiming to be clean Holy Mary while in practice being stoned sluts. Bill say itvwas the Russian border? well... I could imagine some people said that in real time. The DDR was a Russian satellite country. I recall how for years people who immigrated from non Russian former USSR countries had to explain to people in the West they are "not from Russia" (yea I kniw the DDR was no Belarus). Is "SA" a recommended read for starters? NO. But for the advanced its actually a blessing just the way it is. BTW: Ive read it many years ago.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: LuxuryStones ()
Date: May 23, 2014 21:17

Quote
His Majesty
Quote
LuxuryStones
I liked the plain facts, written in an incredibly boring way, it made it almost juicy. Fun to read.
A pity Bill didn't write much about the Taylor years.

Do you have Rolling With The Stones?

Nope, more Taylor?

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: May 23, 2014 21:19

Quote
LuxuryStones

Nope, more Taylor?

Yup, lighter reading, lots of pics, but covers all of bill's time in the stones.

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: LuxuryStones ()
Date: May 23, 2014 21:28

Quote
His Majesty
Quote
LuxuryStones

Nope, more Taylor?

Yup, lighter reading, lots of pics, but covers all of bill's time in the stones.

Thanks HM, that's two chapters for me 2 read then! thumbs up

Re: The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
Posted by: 2000 LYFH ()
Date: May 23, 2014 22:39

Buy on credit - one of the homes (Gedding Hall) Bill purchased in 1968 with 1000 pounds in the bank! Price 41,000 pounds....


John Fielding

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