The original manager of the Rolling Stones recalls his unconventional boyhood and his fortunate alliance with the bad boys of rock music.
More than half of Oldham’s memoir is gone before the Stones appear, but the warm-up act is not disagreeable. The author begins in 1995 with an overwrought account of his current condition: hung-over, used-up, depressed. “I knew the ride was over,” he admits, “but I wasn’t ready for the other side.” He then returns to his childhood (his father, a US airman stationed in England, did not survive WWII; his English mother carried on as best she could). As a teenager he bounced from school to school and early on became a fan of films, television, and pop music. Possessing a vast ad hoc knowledge of popular culture, as well as a formidable fashion sense and a ferocious determination to farm the freshly flowering fields of rock music, Oldham gradually arrived in this brave new world and witnessed the blossoming of a number of important rock stars, including the Beatles, Marianne Faithfull, and—most notably—the Rolling Stones. Oldham intercuts his text with quotations—some quite lengthy—from many others who were present at the Big Bang: among them, Peter Townshend, Lionel Bart, and Vidal Sassoon. Some wrote their own accounts, some submitted to interviews, and others Oldham quotes from their own published memoirs. To his credit, Oldham allows these other voices to contradict him and even to portray him unfavorably: his acquaintances recall, for example, that Oldham physically abused his mother—which he subsequently denies. Among the interesting revelations: Oldham was the first to insist that the Stones write their own music.
Although the early chapters contain wearisome lists of celebrities and dreary accounts of dissipation, once the Beatles and Stones arrive on stage, the memoir picks up some real energy. (60 b&w photos)