"People say I made the Stones. I didn't. They were there already. They only wanted exploiting. They were all bad boys when I found them. I just brought out the worst in them."
When you think of the most influential managers in rock music, who comes to mind? I consider only a handful to have had any real influence: Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis), Brian Epstein (The Beatles), Kit Lambert (The Who) and Andrew Loog Oldham (The Rolling Stones). Sure, they all brought us these great acts, but who had the most lasting influence on MANAGEMENT of a rock band? In my opinion, Andrew Loog Oldham had the visionary mix of management style and publicity manipulation that endures to this day. Look no further than bands such as Oasis and you will see ALO's lasting mark.
With this in mind, I voraciously read his biography STONED, which perfectly captures his life in post-WWII England until he first began managing what would become the "world's greatest rock 'n roll band." Oldham gives a glimpse of his influences, from film stars to England's musical counterparts to the rock bands of America. Andrew was a little more privileged than most youth's of the '50s England - he traveled to Europe often. His narration of these travel adventures is often humorous, such as the time his chanced upon Pablo Picasso smoking marijuana!
If you are familiar with rock 'n roll history, you know some of this story already - Oldham works for Brian Epstein shortly and then 'discovers' the Rollin' Stones. But, he also gives insight into the band that only a manager would see, and he spares no quarter in his summing up of Brian Jones. And I'm sure that you know that often told tale of ALO locking Jagger and Richards into until they wrote a song - thus single-handedly being the man responsible for the songwriting team of Jagger/Richards. But, what I found most fascinating was his eagerness to not 'play by the rules'; for instance when he became the band's 'producer' yet he didn't even know what a final mix was! Andrew had the vision and didn't need to get bogged down in the 'details'! The book really kicks in when Oldham gets to the start of the 'swinging London' scene. The escapades are many and hilarious, my personal favorite being when his 'thug' chauffer drove him over to a journalist's office to threaten him over his less than flattering review of Keith Richards! Man, this stuff should be made into a movie.
I only had two complaints about the book. First, Oldham includes many comments from contemporary icons such as Marianne Faithfull, the various Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend, John Paul Jones, Shel Tamy and tons of others. Now, I certainly don't mind hearing these recollections, but they fill up roughly half the book AND many of these quotes have been printed elsewhere before. Since everyone has their own style, all these various inserts kind of break the flow of the book. But, I understand that you are creating the mood of the time and these were people who where there. My only other complaint has since been rectified…the book ends in 1964, just as the Stones are about to hit the big time! But, never fear, there has been a 2 STONED recently published, which I will definitely be searching for.
All in all a fitting tribute to a man whose vision of rock 'n roll carries on to this day. STONED is necessary reading for the mythical "Rock and Roll 101" class. Plus, any fan of the Stones will find this book 'required' reading.