It seems when it comes to The Rolling Stones, their career has always been treated like a Duke Ellington song, a bit of “to be continued”. Years ago they released a documentary video by 25×5 as a way to represent the band’s first 25 years and some laughed at the thought of these “old buzzards” playing for another year. Little did anyone know they would continue for another 25. Billy J. Altman covers the story of its most vocal member in his book simply called Mick Jagger (White Star Publishers).
Considering that Jagger has been in the public eye for 50 years, it’s hard to say what people want to read about him. Do you want the complete guts of the matter, or do you want something that skims the surface? Altman goes as deep as possible by exploring every aspect of his career and personal life, from his youthful origins of a war-torn England to finding musical commonality with Keith Richards, and what lead to them finding the musicianship of Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Ian Stewart. Then 1964 happens, and you can say that Jagger’s adventures become more, well, adventurous. The book is written in essay form, and the photos and how they’re used throughout the book is very elaborate so you get a chance to understand what the public felt (perhaps you were someone who celebrated along with them) and what Jagger and the rest of the band felt, along with the interaction they had with Jagger. You get the Let It Bleed era, the Exile On Main Street grit, the Some Girls and Tattoo You warmth, the Flowers, the Steel Wheels, along with the band entering the 1990’s and 21st century. The Beatles only had seven years of output and yet The Rolling Stones outdid them by seven times. It’s a lot of content and history to go through by Altman does it quite well, both scholastically but not too deep to where it may alienate the casual fan. The use of key Jagger quotes throughout the book also help to detail the life Jagger has lived, which may make readers jealous but also envious of what has happened. We also see a man age into maturity, and how that maturity can still have a youthful spirit if you do not forget what brought you into the music in the first place. Mick Jagger holds up quite well and would be welcome in any book collection, and it may move itself out of your collection to strut once in awhile. This is the story of the midnight gambler revealing that he enjoys waking up to see the sun too.