Monday, March 11, 2013

50 Licks The Rolling Stones by Pete Fornatale - Book Review

The Rolling Stones have held the title of "The Greatest Rock N' Roll Band In The World" for almost as long as I've been on this earth.

After rocking the planet for over 50 years, there's certainly no shortage of press clippings, interviews, online musings, authorized and unauthorized books about their musical domination. Just when you think that you've seen it all and read it all, a new book comes out and rises to the top like the one written by New York radio personality Peter Fornatale.

'50 Licks: Myths & Stories From Half A Century of The Rolling Stones' has just been released, sadly posthumously, and it's a wonderfully easy read chronicling the Rise and Fall and Rise and continual Rise of The Stones.  With the author's untimely death in April of 2012, this labor of love was finished with the help of co-authors Bernard M. Corbett and Peter Thomas Fornatale.

50 chapters, named appropriately after 50 famous songs, feature quotes from the entire band and some excellent excerpts from interviews complied over the years with those that have been close to The Stones. Each vignette takes the reader through the highs and lows of the band's storied history with an insider-type of perspective.

Early on, we are reminded of the now-forgotten difficulties that the group had when they first arrived in America.  The Rolling Stones appeared on the Ed Sullivan show October 25, 1964 and were not universally well-received.  In a published statement to the press, Ed Sullivan tried to calm his faithful following after the dangerous debut:
-"I promise you they will never be back on our show.  If things can't be handled, we'll stop the whole business.  We won't book any more rock 'n' roll groups and will ban teenagers from the theater."

Mick Jagger is quoted on the troubles they had conquering the States:
-"We were very unsuccessful at first but we still liked it.  You see, we knew that we just had to make it in America.  There we were touring all over the place on our own and nobody seemed to know us."
At one gig at the State Fair of Texas(!) they shared the bill with some chimpanzees and elephants.

Just in case you're wondering...they ultimately appeared on Sullivan's show SIX TIMES and, yeah, they did just fine on every subsequent tour of the USA!

The first song that I ever saw them play live was 'Under My Thumb' on November 30, 1981.  How did they settle upon using that tune for the '81 Tour opener?  This book explains it with a quote from Greg Perloff, the tour coordinator, who was present for the rehearsals at Long View Farm in Massachusetts:
-"...Keith Richards walks out, boots on, blue jeans on, no shirt, telecaster strapped over his shoulder, and he starts walking out of the barn and towards the lake.  And there was a cord on the guitar, the longest cord you've ever seen in your life, like a two-hundred-foot cord. And Keith stares at the lake and starts in on the opening riff to "Under My Thumb."  We stopped and went, "Yeah. That's why we're here."  It was magic.  And that was the beginning of the '81 Tour."

I found comfort in the fact that Pete Townshend feels the same way that I do about The Stones and he summed up his adulation best in the 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction speech:
-"They're the only group I've ever really been unashamed about idolizing...and each of them in their own way has given me something as an artist, as a person, and as a fan.  And it would be crazy to suggest that any of the things they gave me were wholesome, practical, or useful."

The quick hitting format of the book offers up some cool tidbits of history and plenty of light-hearted trivia.
Ever guessed at whose pants those are on the cover of your Sticky Fingers album?
-see page 134.
Ever wonder why they loved playing in Detroit so much?
-see page 112.
Was Darryl Jones hired to replace Bill Wyman based on his choice of drink?
-see page 237.
Can Mick possibly get away with partying every night while on tour?
-see page 227.

This is a book for the fans, written by a fan.  In the month before he died, the author visited the Memory Motel in Long Island for inspiration and left us with this lasting prediction:
-"The Stones have set the standards and raised the bar at every level of their evolution.  They will certainly not go out with a whimper.  One final stab at proving to the world-and maybe even proving to themselves-that they were, still are, and always will be the Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World!"

There is no shortage of fun, love and excitement in this book and with the inclusion of some outstanding photography it makes the Cover Price of $17 seem like a steal.

It's Only a Rock N' Roll storybook,
but I like it...Yes, I do.
And I Believe You Will Too!

To Purchase this fine book, please CLICK HERE to visit
or CLICK HERE to visit Barnes and
Or check our your local independent Book Store and ask for it by name:
50 LICKS! by Pete Fornatale

Oh and by the way, check out the partial listing of the Cast of Characters:
I'm certainly in some damn fine company!

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