The epic tale of an obsessive teenager who launched a Rolling Stones fanzine and spent the next two decades capturing the band’s whirlwind metamorphosis from behind the scenes.
In 1978, 16-year-old German launched Beggars Banquet, a rock-gossip ’zine about the Stones during their New York epoch. What began as an innocent passion that sold for 25 cents per copy soon turned into a life-consuming obsession as German inched his way from the fringe into the Stones’ inner circle. Ron Wood and Keith Richards took him under their wings, and Beggars Banquet became the official magazine of the Rolling Stones fan club. Once happy reporting a mere glimpse of a band member exiting a night club, German soon dropped out of college and became a privileged fixture in the Stones’ hotel rooms and at all-night parties featuring drugs, women and ’80s decadence. In the ’90s, bean-counting sharks and promoters took over, and the Stones transmogrified from a fan-friendly rock band into slick celebrities with board meetings, bottom lines and big stage productions to promote Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge and other albums. Those productions were exorbitantly expensive: “It was no longer a joke to say you had to mortgage your house for Stones tickets,” writes German. Once an insider accustomed to full access, he found himself shoved to the side and forced to go through channels for interviews. At 33, still single, disillusioned and unable to adjust to the newly commercial atmosphere, he began reflecting on the sacrifices he had made. Eventually, he folded Beggars Banquet, concluding that he had dedicated his entire young-adult life to “the Stones’ vacuum.”
First-rate, firsthand account of the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band, and a disenchanted chronicle of its increasingly crass commercialization.