by Victor Bockris
Da Capo Press
We commoners want our deities to be ordinary but fabulous; rebels with feelings; tortured survivors. However, the ones that don’t survive must die tragically too young. Most important, though, is that the biography must be a good read. The deity owes that to his herd. We want crib death. We want the loss of several best friends each at pivotal moments. The hero must get ripped off several times by the establishment. It does not matter whether it is Scotland Yard or a sleazeball manager. We know the hero will come out in the end.
However this end can’t be dragged out for too long, or we get fidgety and bored with the rock and roll adventure. We get knots when we hear of the multiple rapes and beatings of the hero’s girlfriend by thugs in Jamaica, but it makes us turn the page in anticipation. This girlfriend, in the beginning of the tale, must be a beautiful svelte German model and decline into a toothless drug-crazed hag. Drugs and drink must ravage her body for the tale to be truly gripping. She and the hero must have countless affairs while together. Oh yeah, and even better, if the girlfriend belongs to the best friend first and is taken from him by the hero. Of course, the hero has his reasons (best friend treated the svelte model like shit). But all of us know that the best friend will be found floating dead in the swimming pool. This happens days after the best friend is ousted from the band.
Who could ask for more in a biography than what is delivered in this one?
The dynamic between Richards and Jagger is addressed repeatedly. At times the two hate each other and then a page… or paragraph later, Keith is saying “He’s me mate.” And all is forgiven.
For the most part this is quite an energetic book that anyone interested in the myth of the Stones would appreciate. A few things bogged the book down in very minor ways. Bockris had a tendency to quote too many sources (Time, Interview, Rolling Stone, New York Times, etc.) on what was thought of particular albums when they were released. This was especially apparent near the end of the book. We’re talking Dirty Work period here. Every magazine was falling over themselves to impart how relevant the Stones still were and how mature the Stones had become. At this point I started skimming the book. I didn’t care that “the prestigious magazine Guitar World” called Keith’s solo record “the best Stones album in 17 years.” Who Cares?!!! However, there is no doubt Richards embodies rock and roll and his life has been a testament to that. Victor Bockris, through research and interviews with those who have surrounded Richards (and Richards himself), has written quite a lively rambunctious biography. Put the Stones catalogue on shuffle and commence reading.