From Publishers Weekly
By 1971, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin were dead and Jim Morrison soon would be. Equally troubled, the Rolling Stones, those bad boy icons of the era, took their decadent circus to the French Riviera to escape British taxes and record an album. In a slang-filled present tense, Greenfield (Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia
) gives good gossip about the mayhem that ensued at the Villa Nellcote, the palatial mansion—and supposed former Gestapo headquarters—that Keith Richards rented as his getaway. Greenfield tells of who slept with whom, Keith's outlaw antics and the massive amounts of drugs consumed. The central story, however, is the struggle between Keith and Mick Jagger, who was increasingly drawn to high society, typified by his marriage to Bianca Perez-Mora. A who's who of celebs passed through Nellcote that summer, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Gram Parsons. In the last analysis, it's amazing that the Stones managed to record an album at all, but Exile on Main Street
may well be their greatest. Greenberg's writing is cliched at times, but his account is energetic. In the end, he takes sides (Keith's mostly) and settles scores, but that only ups the entertainment value. (Nov.)
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*Starred Review* Greenfield focuses on the early post-Jones era, when Jagger and Richards were esteemed songwriters, and the band was starting to make money in piles. Picking up approximately where his S.T.P.: A Journey through America with the Rolling Stones
(1974) left off, he recounts happenings at Richards' French villa, where the album Exile on Main Street
was recorded in summer 1971. Jagger, having recently dumped Marianne Faithfull, was married to jet-setting Bianca, whose antipathy for Richards and cohorts was reciprocated. Richards was in the middle of a long liaison with dissolute actress, scenester, and Faithfull-friend Anita Pallenberg. The Stones had extricated themselves from manager Allen Klein and, thanks to Jagger's banker buddy Prince Rupert Lowenstein, were about to begin self-marketing. Complicating things were Richards', Pallenberg's, and assorted resident playmates' heroin addiction, which brought Corsican drug dealers, local scumbags, and sleazoid Richards factotum Spanish Tony Sanchez into the mix, so to speak. Greenfield merrily corrects Sanchez's and others' published misstatements and serves up such treats as Richards' description of Jagger as several of the nicest guys one could hope to meet. Rough, raw, and ironic by turns, he lays down the facts of how heroin enslaved and immobilized the band at a time when everything seemed within its grasp. So doing, this wry depiction of a dark, decadent moment in rock history inspires a certain demented nostalgia. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved