Bill German publishes Rolling Stones book

April 6, 2009 7:36:43 PM PDT
The Rolling Stones have been called the world's greatest rock band. Now a new book looks at their life offstage. "Under Their Thumb" is written by Bill German, who published the Stones' newsletter for 17 years.

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The hard driving rock of The Rolling Stones was pure nirvana to a 16-year-old Bill German in 1978. He started a Stones newsletter, "Beggar's Banquet," printing it in the high school office, but no one was interested.

"Brooklyn was in the throes of Saturday Night Fever," says German.

Done in by disco, he was undeterred, figuring he'd take it directly to the band. One night he handed a copy to Keith and Ron. Months later, "Beggar's Banquet" became the Stones' official newsletter. He got off to a rough start. First interview of Mick, Bill spilled orange juice on Jagger's 16th century Persian rug.

"Mick came running in with a towel and next thing I know I have one of the world's most famous rock stars in the world in front of me on his hands and knees blotting up my mess. He couldn't have been more gracious about it," says German.

But German was part of the inner circle. That relationship was captured in paintings by Ron Wood on display at the San Francisco Art Exchange. One painting is from 1975 when the Stones announced a tour in a New York restaurant.

"But then from the street behind them the Stones pull up on a truck and everyone had to run outside and see them," says German.

German was a witness to excesses, feuds, overindulgence, and eccentric behavior.

"I have a chapter in the book called 'A Nice Bunch of Guys,' and it's about Mick and his multiple personalities," says German.

Nice or hostile, Mick is also the business brains in the outfit.

"Mick is considered upper management for the Stones, while Keith is considered talent," says German.

Eventually it was the bottom line that chased Bill away.

"I drew very disenchanted with how much money started to play in," says German.

But Bill German is still a fan and he doesn't think this book will end friendships.

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