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I'd read Stanley Booth's gripping first-person account of the infamous Altamont festival in The Faber Book of Pop, and remembered that it was an extract from this book when I came across it in HMV's sale. Altamont came just after the Stones' tour of the USA in November 1969, and Booth here tells the story of what it was like to be part of that extraordinary experience. The tour was the band's first visit to the US in three years, and was one of the first to target large-scale arenas. In addition, it marked the debut - leaving aside the band's Hyde Park concert a few months previously - of Mick Taylor, who'd been brought in as a replacement for Brian Jones, just prior to Jones's death two days before the Hyde Park gig. The shows in New York were released for posterity as 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!' (thought by some to be the best live album ever), while the film Gimme Shelter documents part of the tour and Altamont itself. And, as if all that wasn't of enough significance, the Stones (along with Booth) also visited Muscle Shoals studios just after the tour had ended to record (what turned out to be) two of their greatest songs: "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses", which were eventually released in 1971 on Sticky Fingers.

Booth interweaves his account of the tour with a history of the band, beginning with the meeting of Jagger and Richards with Jones, who was sitting in with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, and ending with the events of the summer of 1969: Jones's drug busts, his inability to contribute to the Let It Bleed album (when he asked Jagger what he could play on one track, he replied, "I don't know, Brian - what *can* you play?"), his departure from the band and his untimely death. The band were at the height of their powers throughout this year, just prior to the nasty shock of Altamont which brought the sixties to a shuddering close.

This is an excellent book - well-written, detailed and exactly descriptive - which gives you a vivid impression of the way it must have been in those times. For a variety of reasons (some of which are discussed in an afterword), it didn't appear in print until fifteen years after the events it described had taken place, but it was worth the wait, has an enduring appeal, and should be read today by those who want to know how it was.
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on 16 August 2016
Best thing I can do is provide some reviews for you here. The Telegraph contained an excellent take on the book in their "author Stanley Booth interview" too.

"Booth's strong, sound prose brings to life the out-of-control process through which an age intoxicated by its own passions found a hard-driving music to live hard by. In all the annals of the 1960s, there is nothing on paper that so evokes those days and nights." —Robert Stone, Salon

"By far the best book on its subject (including Richards's own well received effort), Booth's book is also easily the most convincing account of life inside the monster created by the rock revolution of the 1960s." —Richard Williams, Guardian

"The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones is, simply put, one of those essential texts of music journalism. Groundbreaking, insightful, funny and tragic, it's a piece of reporting that could never take place today." —The Houston Press
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on 10 January 2013
Let us start by saying I was a very young child during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but like many people from my generation, was always enamoured by the sounds of the 1960s, particularly The Rolling Stones. I first read this in the 1980s and it was read, lent to friends and then re-read until it fell apart.

What I like? It feels like you are reading a letter from the frontier of youth culture during a particular heady time in the Twentieth Century. It has not been doctored to suit 21st Century sensibilities and all the stronger for it. For example, the reader gets to fully understand to what extent bands like The Rolling Stones were seen to be saviours and spokespeople for a new movement and a new way of life. Also, you will notice the idolisation of black artists / musicians, which at times, to a 21st Century reader, verges on stereotype.

It is beautifully written. You are THERE - no really! From the descriptions of living with the Stones (going out for dinner etc) to standing at the side of the stage watching them perform, to noticing someone at the airport - Stanley Booth captures it all.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys excellent, honest writing and has an interest in this period of history. If you are a Rolling Stones fan it is required reading, if you are not, you will still enjoy it.
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on 29 November 2014
Enjoyable and very interesting but a bit frustrating when the Hollies are said to be from Liverpool (a bit of an anorak). The book covers a year in the life of the Stones leading up to the free festival in Altamont in 1969 but includes lots of material on the their earlier years. All very readable.
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on 4 May 2012
Follows the Stones on the fated 1969 US tour that culminated in the infamous concert at Altamont. I knew I was in good hands as soon as I read the following early passage, describing the reporters at a pre-tour Stones press conference:

"They all appeared to be in their early twenties... dressed in the current style, achieved by spending large sums of money to look poor and bedraggled, like a new race of middle-class gypsies. They ate like gypsies, snatching up cakes and fruit and drinks."

Captures not only The Stones at the peak of their world dominance, but also the peak and decline of an era. Wonderful reading.
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on 2 February 2013
Loved Stanley Booth's book because it captured, through the Stones, my own remembrance of the band when I was growing up.

I have to admit I've never been a much of a fan of their music, but they are very important from a cultural perspective in the 60's: the newsreels bear that out (Pathe News in the UK), so I have read a few books about them. Whereas The Beatles were seen as lovable, the Stones were the devil incarnate and always in the news for the wrong reasons. So, there's something of a nostalgia trip going on.

I first remember them in 1964 when I was twelve and how different they looked. But it was the outrage of my parents generation and older that struck me the most. The mother of a friend of mine was almost foaming at the mouth in anger about them and how they should be locked up. She was not alone.

I liked the way Booth wove his story culminating in the Altamont disaster at the end of 1969, but introducing a history of the band's progression from the early 60's with more emphasis on Brian Jones than the usual offerings. I also liked the fact that he introduced Shirley Arnold's musings (as a fan) into the story.

Annie's review is very good. However, the idolisation / stereotyping of black musicians is understandable when looked at in the context of where blacks were in the 60's. They were mostly a distinct underclass and many of them in the Deep South were still struggling to get the vote. It was the `British Invasion' of the 60's that created an understanding of the Blues for many American kids who were oblivious to some great musicians who had provided the ideas that helped create rock music. As Keith Richards once said "I stole every lick I ever learned from Chuck Berry". Add to that BB King, Muddy Waters et al and the reader may better understand where Booth was coming from in bigging them up.

A very enjoyable read and my favourite book on the Stones.
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on 10 September 2014
Very slow read, mostly due to a lot of irrelevant content about the author's own life and not being related to the Stones at all most of the time. In fact, there's f*** all adventures except for the last 50 pages, in which he covers the Atlamont concert and Brian Jones' death in detail. He (Stanley Booth) seems like a bit of a bell-end as well, but ah, just my opinion. If you want some Rolling Stones stories, get Keith Richards' autobiography 'Life', now that's a read.
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on 7 July 2012
This is a fantastic book about the Stones in their heyday. The narrative flips between the early days of the band and the tour that culminated in the ill-fated Altamont show. The story is told by Stanley Booth, who at the time of the tour was a young writer on the road with the band. If you are a fan of the band - and particularly of their early seventies recordings (who isn't?) - then I thoroughly recommend this book to you.
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on 13 February 2013
One of THE best Stones books. Written from the inside of the legendary 1969 ('Get Yer Ya-Ya' s Out') tour - with access that would be unimaginable today. Great observations on the unfolding drama, interspersed with first-hand accounts of the history of the band up to that point, effectively two essential books in one.
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on 15 January 2013
I must admit to being surprised at the degree of praise being lavished on this book including that it is the greatest book ever written on rock and roll and the best book ever written on the 1960s!!! Truly a large dose of hyperbole I'm afraid. As someone who for my sins has read a good many books on rock and roll and the 1960s this wouldn't be anywhere near the top of my list. I'm not surprised that Keith Richards liked it as Booth panders to Richards own self-charicature as rock and roll's outlaw rebel drug taker etc....etc. Actually my favourite sections of the book were those that dealt with Brian Jones including a very personal interview with his parents. Otherwise I found it fairly standard fare with way too much about Stanley Booth's own life.
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