Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#520: "He knew the Marquis de Sade and Jean-Paul Sartre VERY well...."

4 a time back in the early/mid-1960's, Rolling Stones producer/manager Andrew Loog Oldham was sorta the English version of Phil Spector -- at least in terms of his drive & his belief in himself & what he wanted 2 do. Oldham's STONED (2000) is a sort of "oral history"/autobiography of his life as producer/manager of the Stones during their early years.
Tho some of it's fascinating & vivid -- especially in its details about how the pop biz in England worked in those days B4 "Swinging London" -- the book unfortunately ends B4 the Stones have even toured America.
No offense 2 Oldham or his early history, but the book actually starts on Page 139, Chapter 7, when American record-producer Shel Talmy (early Who, early Kinks, Easybeats, etc.) gets interviewed about how he became part of "The British Invasion." After that, it's pretty involving.
& of course the book takes another jump up on Page 184, when The Rolling Stones finally appear.
Oldham claims -- & others attest -- that in effect Oldham took his own drives & frustrations & amplified them on2 the Stones. ALO KNEW there had 2 B an alternative 2 The Beatles, & when he saw The Stones he took what was there & just amped it up 2 the highest possible degree. He urged them 2 B as ugly, scruffy, rude & disdainful as possible, Bcos he knew at least some segment of the young audience would love it. & they did.
ALO did this in part by cutting down the group -- dumping piano-player Ian Stewart, pushing Brian Jones 2 the side, putting the focus firmly on Mick Jagger & Keith Richards. & it worked.
ALO Xpresses little remorse 4 the things he did. He knew what his goal was. 1 of the pleasures of this book is when ALO takes a break from telling his story & lets others tell their parts in it 4 him. People like Pete Townshend, John Paul Jones, Gene Pitney, Marianne Faithfull, film-director Michael Lindsey-Hogg, etc. Keith Richards is quoted from other books, but as ALO notes, none of the Stones consented 2 B interviewed 4 these memoirs.
There's some fairly bad behavior on display here. There R lots of dirty business dealings -- Oldham & his business partner Eric Easton stab each other in the back many times. There is lots of drug & alcohol abuse, tho attempts R made 2 laff it off or at least underplay it.
& there is ALO's constant I-I-I story as he learns how 2 produce records on Decca Records' $$$ (& sometimes NO1 knows who's paying 4 the sessions), how he breaks all the rules 2 get his Stones on2 the charts, on2 TV, & in 4 the share of glory he knows they're due.
I wish it was funnier. The funniest stories come from the others who R interviewed, not Oldham.
If you're a fan of the early Stones, you might enjoy this. It's a look at the band while they were still sorta human & reachable. Bet you'll never read NE descriptions of Jagger being unsure of himself NEwhere else....
Oldham sez his memoirs will fill another book -- & I assume they continue in STONED 2. In that book I'd imagine ALO helps the Stones conquer America, then slightly later gets fired (not sure why, I don't know his story that well), then founds Immediate Records -- which lands some pretty good talent (The Nice, Small Faces, Marianne Faithfull, P.P. Arnold, etc) but doesn't last long & ends up in disordered bankruptcy. At that point I assume ALO crashes & burns & takes a long time 2 decide whether 2 keep living or not, based on what he sez in this book.
I trust there's more bad behavior on display in that later book, 2. I just don't know if I wanna go there....

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