At last! The complexities of the greatest story in rock’n’roll meet a writer more-than-equal to the task, writes Adam Scott-Goulding…
The Stone Age – Sixty Years Of The Rolling Stones
By Lesley-Ann Jones
Just when I thought I’d read my last Rolling Stones biography – I mean, how many do we need? – I was seduced by the beat and the Bacchanals all over again.
I loved every bold moment of Lesley-Ann Jones’s The Stone Age.
Jones’s book immediately sent me on a spiral back through all my favourite Stones tomes – starting with my all-time fave: Stanley Booth’s True Adventures Of The Rolling Stones. And I can honestly say that L-A.J’s book is already up there with the best of them.
Why? Two words: Tone. And fearlessness.
Fearlessness first. Jones has written in the past about the distant thunder of rock music’s long-time-coming #MeToo meltdown. And she doesn’t shy away from the topic here, writing with a cool head, free from the shackles of the boysy barroom jokes and sniggers that have dogged this aspect of the Stones’ narrative for decades. Her account of the devastation wrought on those left behind when the orgiastic circus has left town will stay with this reader a long time.
She doesn’t call for blood – because what can a poor girl do? ‘Cept to write about a rock’n’roll band? – choosing instead a level tone that allows a stark picture to emerge. No writer has captured the excesses more vividly. Few writers have looked at the consequences of these excesses at all.
Her subtle coup de théâtre is to offer it all up without haranguing the reader – so often the downfall of rock writing. She understands that there’s more than enough of the Grand Guignol in the story of The Stones without adding a Wagnerian, Death Metal soundtrack all her own.
Which brings meet to tone…
The story of The Stones is nuanced like no other in rock’n’roll. It’s a truly great tale. And at last it has met a writer versatile enough to shine a light into its every corner.
Jones’s tone reminds of the scene from Absolutely Fabulous featuring Marianne Faithfull as God and Anita Pallenberg as the Devil.
Like Faithfull and Pallenberg’s deities, L-A.J hovers above the story, reaching down from time to time to gently upbraid the shenanigans here, to offer an arch bit of banter there; to straighten the odd squint portrait in the rogues’ gallery… and to turn others to face the wall. It’s often very, very funny.
My favourite moment among many was her email exchange with 60s Stones Svengali Andrew Loog Oldham whom she located somewhere beyond Bogata. It’s like something out of Joseph Conrad, with ALO as the Kurtz of rock’n’roll lost up country. And that’s just one delightful little squib in a book that adds up to a fireworks display of storytelling.
Lesley-Ann will be signing copies of The Stone Age at the 100 Club on 12th July at the Rolling Stones@60 tribute band event. Book here: https://www.the100club.co.uk/events/stones-at-sixty-jul-2022/
Visit Lesley-Ann Jones’s website here: https://www.lesleyannjones.com
The next scheduled Rolling Stones In 60s London walking tour is 12th July 2022 (the tour is also available for private booking): Rolling Stones In 60s Soho tour.