50 years of The Rolling Stones through books

Fifty years ago this week, the Rolling Stones played their first gig at the Marquee Club in London, England. Since that night, the band has gone down in rock 'n' roll history as one of the most iconic, longest running bands ever, having recorded dozens of chart-topping hits, from (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction to Start Me Up, and grabbing hundreds of headlines for their wild, indulgent partying and inter-band rivalries.

To mark this rock milestone, CBC Books is highlighting five particularly good books that capture the history of the Stones.

rolling-stones-125.jpgThe True Adventures of The Rolling Stones by Stanley Booth

American journalist Stanley Booth followed the Stones on their legendary tour of the U.S. in 1969 as their writer-in-residence during the height of their popularity. He watched the band play live each night to frenzied fans and partied with them until the early hours, doing cocaine and heroin, listening to old blues songs with Keith Richards and watching Mick Jagger get, uh, satisfaction from countless women. He also witnessed the grim times, including the infamous incident at Altamont where he saw a member of the Hells Angels stab 18-year-old Meredith Hunter to death. Booth captured so much material that it took him 15 years to make sense of it all (or recover from his time with the Stones) and complete his account. 

Rolling with The Stones by Bill Wyman
In this big 512-page book, former Stones bass player and co-founder Bill Wyman puts together an incredible written and visual timeline of the band that features many rare photos, press clippings, record-sleeve artwork and tour posters. Chronicled are adventures like the young band's first foray to America in 1964 and the unfortunate downward spiral of guitarist Brian Jones. Wyman himself stopped touring with the band in 1990, so his book can be seen as a history of the Stones, part one.

Ronnie by Ronnie Wood

Ronnie-Wood-120.jpgJourneyman guitarist Ronnie Wood had played with some of England's most popular rock bands, including The Birds, The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces, before joining the Stones in 1975. But few things could prepare him for the level of stardom (and scrutiny) he would experience with Mick and Keith. In Ronnie, which in 2007 was the first autobiography by a member of the band, Wood shares his own development as a musician (which should appeal to students of rock 'n' roll) but also candid anecdotes about drug-fueled debauchery in the band's more youthful heyday. The engaging book is full of stories about arrests, weddings, funerals, sexual misadventures, and Eric Clapton.

Life by Keith Richards

life-richards-120.jpgMick and Keith. Keith and Mick. The talented but undeniably dysfunctional musicians will never escape each other's shadow. In his autobiography, Richards sheds lights on this historic musical pairing by going back to the beginning -- from his childhood in Kent, England to the embryonic stages of the Stones, where he and Jagger rented a rundown apartment and learned to play the blues. Sure, he talks plenty about the rock-star excess (and personal tragedies) of the band's later years, but true Stones fans will love the detailed deconstruction of beloved songs like Jumpin' Jack Flash, his fly-on-the-wall descriptions of their intense studio sessions and Richards' own warm sense of humour.

According to The Rolling Stones
by The Rolling Stonesaccording-to-rolling-stones-120.jpg

Another weighty book filled with photos and anecdotes that cover four decades of making music and getting elegantly wasted, this collection of informal interviews with the band members traces the history of the group through their own personal testimonies. Each of the members' personalities come through, and the book includes essays about the Stones evolution and revolution by friends and fans like Don Was, Sheryl Crow and writer Carl Hiaasen.