The Stone Alone book - big disappointment
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.