The MC5: A Eulogy

by admin  29th May 2024 Comments [0]

By Doug Sheppard


And then there were none. Five equals zero. The morning of May 9, 2024, the last surviving member of the MC5, drummer Dennis Thompson, died while recovering from a heart attack—just months after the passings of guitarist Wayne Kramer on February 2 and one-time MC5 manager John Sinclair on April 2.

Thompson left this world in a much quieter setting—the serenity of the MediLodge recovery facility in Taylor, Michigan—than where he made his name some 17 miles away, the legendary Grande Ballroom in Detroit. You couldn’t think of one without the other: The Grande was where the MC5 were the house band, and the MC5 put the venue on the map in the late ’60s with electrified performances pushing the bounds of music, volume, culture and even politics; plus they recorded their first album, Kick Out the Jams, there in 1968.

You also couldn’t think about many musical developments since that pivotal debut without thinking of the MC5—not just their often-mentioned influence on punk rock, but on strains of hard rock and heavy metal, not to mention myriad Michigan contemporaries. Without the MC5, there probably wouldn’t have been a Stooges and definitely wouldn’t have been the Up, Third Power might not have evolved from psych into Detroit-infused hard rock, and Brownsville Station might not have cranked the amps to 11 in their quest to bring a ’50s rock ’n’ roll sensibility to the ’70s. Think about the impact of one of those bands, the Stooges, then try to imagine a world without them. Or maybe, as vocalist Rob Tyner proposed in the inner gatefold of 1971’s High Time swan song, “Think of a world where art is the only motivation.”

The MC5 thought big, and even hit #30 with the debut album in 1969, but it was their art that endured, not fame or record sales. Musical or otherwise, the Five’s radical art laid the groundwork for much that followed—providing listeners with a guidepost to escape the confines of societal conformity. While they weren’t peace-and-love hippies playing to oil-projected light shows, the MC5 were very much in line with the counterculture, even—as part of their involvement in the White Panther Party’s “total assault on the culture”—aligning with the Black Panthers’ 10-point program and a musical parallel to civil rights, free jazz.

As history has liberated wheat from chaff, many forget what the ’60s were really like and how much the MC5 stood out. The enduring images of the ’60s are of long hair, beads, flower power, Vietnam protests, Haight-Ashbury and Woodstock. But for a microcosm of what the dominant culture really was, look at any given 1960s high school yearbook and you’ll see boys with ultra-short hair donning formal wear in almost every picture, girls decked out in frilly dresses and noticeably absent from the sports pages in those dire pre-Title IX days, and every student looking much older and virtually indistinguishable from most teachers and administrators as a result of the sartorial requirements.

Fashions had changed by the ’80s, but not social norms. If you came of age in the suburbs, you probably lived comfortably, but your life was boring—filled with fast food, cable TV, chainstore malls, concrete embankments, manicured lawns, boxy station wagons and idiotic neighbors competing over who had the latest gizmo or gadget. Inspiration also couldn’t be found on the radio, which was infested with noxious AOR, new wave and some of the wimpiest pop ever conceived. Basically, the ’80s was a repudiation of the ’60s: antiwar sensibilities replaced by Rambo-like “war is fun” nonsense on the silver screen, musical creativity harnessed and stifled by corporate commercialism, and a pushback on civil rights and women’s rights that (sadly) carries on to this day thanks to right-wing apparatchiks trying to undermine both. And did I mention that the ’80s were really boring?

For some, the escape hatch was punk rock, a genre that owed a lot to the MC5; for others, it was heavy metal. Or maybe if you were getting bored with both like me, it was the MC5. With two of their three albums long out of print and the first uncommon in spite of an early ’80s Elektra reissue, they were inaccessible, buried and forgotten—which made them even more of a revelation when you finally heard them. Kick Out the Jams was raw and incendiary, Back in the USA was streamlined and terse, and High Time was a poetic monolith that should have been a breakthrough, but they were all great in their own way—evoking concepts, imagery and worlds alien to ’80s conformity. The same thing that spoke to musicians spoke to me as well, even if by that point all five members were living in relative obscurity.

Two of the MC5, Tyner and guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith, died in 1991 and 1994, respectively—right on the cusp of the band going from cult underground phenomenon to elder statesman. CD reissues of all three albums proper in 1991 and 1992 hastened that higher profile, as did several albums worth of previously unreleased material that same decade, and by the 2000s survivors Kramer, Thompson and bassist Michael Davis were able to parlay that newfound (if minor) recognition into the DKT-MC5 with various side men—a project that ended with Davis’ death in 2012.

The legacy won’t end now that all five are gone. Heck, even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame finally recognized them in its musical excellence category this year. As long as there are musicians with a rebellious streak or people who simply want to hear high-energy rock ’n’ roll, the MC5 will live on. Neither will be in short supply anytime soon—if ever.

Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg

by admin  3rd May 2024 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


Catching Fire – The Story of Anita Pallenberg, debuts in New York as a sneak preview at 7:30 pm at IFC Center on Thursday, May 3, 2024 and may open at more theaters at a later date, and on VOD.

This fascinating documentary comes from Magnolia Pictures. It’s directed by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill, with the words of Anita Pallenberg read by Scarlett Johansson from Pallenberg’s unpublished memoir. It was an Official Selection 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

Catching Fire is about a woman who was at many points in her life a newspaper headline: Anita Pallenberg was a “rock n’ roll goddess,” a “voodoo priestess,” and an “evil seductress.” She was accused of trying to break up the Rolling Stones, among other things. But those who loved her considered her an exciting cultural force, and a loving mother – and innocent of the accusations. Never-seen-before home movies and family photographs explore life with the Rolling Stones and tell a bittersweet tale of both triumph and heartbreak. From Barbarella to the Swiss Alps, and the Lower East Side to London, Anita Pallenberg was a creative force ahead of her time.

Media materials provided include the Director’s Statement which further describes this captivating movie.

Catching Fire is a truly hand-made film by two directors motivated by the desire to create something lasting, and personal. It’s a film about family, made by family: Alexis and Svetlana were brought the idea in 2020 by Marlon Richards, the son of Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards, who wanted his mother’s story to be told in all its complexity. The directors have worked closely with Anita’s inner circle over the course of three years, and the result is a private view of a life that was often lived in public. The Super 8mm home movies woven throughout the documentary are the purest expression of this intimacy.

Catching Fire is very much an expression of the honesty and love in Anita’s family, but it’s no hagiography. Anita was famous for her biting sense of humor and her contempt of false praise. This film bucks the trend of “branded content” and “celebrity bios” by embracing both the bitter and the sweet, the heartbreak as well as the triumph. Anita Pallenberg is a true anti-hero, an antidote to corporate messaging. The directors approached the film as an act of historical reclamation: putting the female perspective back in the official narrative of rock ‘n’ roll, making Anita visible again.

“For Alexis and Svetlana, Catching Fire was a deliberate recalibrating of history, and a celebration of an unapologetic leader. Anita was doubtless a muse to many, and she continues to be an inspiration to the directors. In the words of one of Anita’s grandchildren: ‘Anita was the original gangster; she was ‘girl power’ to the end.’ Alexis and Svetlana developed the film with the conviction that something this personal can become universal. Anita struggled to balance her own professional life with the needs of her partner, motherhood with a desire for freedom – her themes are absolutely contemporary. The directors hope that Anita’s humor – and theirs – shine through a story that’s unsparing at times. Anita took risks, and so did e directors: this is an immersive documentary with a style and rhythm all of its own.”

The documentary is enhanced by a deep archive of rare, unseen photos and home videos. This film truly reveals Pallenberg’s many facets and assets.

It’s very obvious Keith Richards still harbors tender feelings for Pallenberg, and in one reflection summarizes her, “She was a unique piece of work.”

In Catching Fire, Anita finally has a forum to define herself. As she says in her memoir, “Writing this has helped me emerge in my own eyes.”

The cast includes Prince Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, Kate Moss, Angela Richards, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, and Marlon Richards.

In April, I saw an advance screening of Catching Fire with photographer and music journalist Heather Harris. She reinforced to me again that Pallenberg surpassed her gorgeous European fashion model classification “by seeming to be, to all who encountered her, one of the most reckless extroverts to ever stride the planet.”

Heather emailed me about Catching Fire.

“Her great-grandfather painted one of the most famous, genuine Goth paintings of all time, ‘Isle of the Dead,’ 1880, oil on canvas by Arnold Bocklin, a work of immeasurable dread as a coffin-laden hearse-barge is rowed, lapping on a lake in the dark of night, towards its ominous namesake.

“But Anita Pallenberg attained notoriety for a far different fate, first as the major non-audio influencer of the nascent Rolling Stones, then as an almost worst-case scenario victim of, then survivor of that band’s most notorious excesses. Younger music fans of Classic Rock are said to lack context in which to fathom the import of what they’re hearing. Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg is a newly released documentary that treads a long ways to rectify that.

“Make no mistake, Pallenberg’s absence in the band history would have begat a far different Rolling Stones. No matter how superior the music is in and of itself, do not underestimate the importance of strong visuals in modern popular music. We have five senses, and they all work together. And she plugged her own volcanic life force directly into the Stones at just the right minute of the 1960s, which indeed helped codify The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.

“She insured they looked different from their frenemies and fellow tastemakers/leaders of all pop culture the Beatles during the style turbulence of the ’60s.

“As rock and roll couturier Evita Corby noted (not in the film) ‘Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg constantly looked like they all wore one another’s clothes,’ which indeed they did, ‘And that they just threw their favorite garments together daily, with zero regard to a matched, put together look’ unlike everyone else in the music biz, fashion biz or even the avant-garde. The resultant mode was Unisex in exotic textiles reflecting worldwide travels alongside cherry-picked exemplars from Granny Takes A Trip appropriated idiosyncratically to their own custom tailors via Pallenberg’s personal, outsider taste.

“The doc traces her complexity far beyond her libertine persona familiar to music fans from her years with Keith Richards (and Brian Jones.) Her maternal side is well presented by the movie’s producer, her erudite son Marlon Richards, and one of the two Weber brothers who lived when youngsters with Keith and Anita in their Nellcote villa in the south of France, invited to do so when their mother committed suicide and their father had understandable trouble coping.

“Directors Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill chose the classical music also used in the film Barry Lyndon to subtly underscore the tragedies in her later life, some of, some not of her own decision-making, often clouded by the extreme distraction of taking narcotics. The fabled sexiness speaks for itself in clips of her leading roles in the films Performance, Barbarella and A Degree of Murder.

“People who encountered her briefly invariably called this beautiful woman ‘scary.’ Folks who knew her better called her ‘intelligent, and a tough cookie.’ The slow, deliberate narration by her friends avoids any tempting cliche of having jumpy-cut style or cinematography to match the ‘wildness’ of the ’60s, thankfully. But there is the puzzling choice of having my fellow American Scarlett Johansson voicing Pallenberg’s own written words. Pallenberg’s own vocals were a mashup of Marlene Dietrich’s smoky sophistication and Joan Greenwood’s seductive purr. (Greenwood in fact was her dubbed voice as the Great Tyrant in Barbarella. Same tone and timbre, but just by the then entertainment world’s sexiest plummy voice.) It is jarring, but doesn’t inhibit enjoyment of the film. And the home movies footage throughout the documentary is nothing short of incredible.”

In 1965 it was my brother, Kenneth Kubernik, an author and musician, who showed me a photo of Anita Pallenberg in a magazine.

During 2024 he viewed a screener of Catching Fire and emailed me his response to this stunning cinematic portrait of Anita.

“Those twilight feline eyes; a mouth set to snarl, not purr; legs built to stalk, ever conscious of a prey drive that bordered on ravenous. Anita Pallenberg was built from exotic animal parts, as rarefied as a snow leopard and just as agile, just as willful. She didn’t arrive on the scene so much as blow up the entire toxic patriarchy that defined the British rock aristocracy of the deathless ’60s. Brian, Keith, Mick and all of their pimply devotees became bewitched by her palpable allure. At that time London was choc-a-bloc with Dolly birds sashaying along Kings Road in their Mary Quant minis and their white Courrèges boots. Along comes Anita, resplendent in Berber batik, a splash of Bosch and the hauteur of a Barbary coast buccaneer. It wasn’t Keith who Depp was copping in those silly films; it was Anita who cast that piratical spell. Her life was a series of escapades and escapes, a survivor of the vicious misogyny that drove the music culture of her time like a runaway train. Wild horses couldn’t drag her away.

“The hotly-anticipated documentary of her tempestuous life exceeds all expectations. The discovery of an unpublished memoir provides a vital narrative backbone (her words read by Scarlett Johansson in her distinctive single malt voice) that delivers just enough self-reflection to suggest we’re finally getting close to this mythic creature who never stopped tantalizing both men and women with her singular style. The footage is gob-smacking; Stones fans will lap up every bit of heretofore unseen Super 8 footage that only confirms what our febrile imaginations have been concocting all these years. All the touchstones are checked: Anita’s youthful caprice in NYC, meeting Brian in Munich, Courtfield Road, red carpet at Cannes, the madness in Morocco, VilleFranche, the Swiss Alps and on and on. How she persevered through the insanity of those times reminds all of us that even our most fervid projections on our heroes and heroines come at an often ruinous cost to them.

“Three ABKCO era Stones tracks were licensed for the soundtrack, the rest a pastiche of bluesy British punch-ins. That’s enough – we’re all better off with just a taste.

“Marianne Faithfull, a unicorn in her own right, said tellingly about her: “I often used to think that if one spent the evening with Anita, one could very easily get killed.” There are worse ways to exit this mortal coil.”


The Rolling Stones’ 2024 North American Tour…and so much more

by admin  25th Apr 2024 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


The Rolling Stones will embark on their North America! Stones Tour ‘24 Hackney Diamonds which kicks off on April 28, 2024 in Houston, Texas. The band will be performing in 16 cities across the US and Canada following the success of their chart-topping studio album Hackney Diamonds, which received a Grammy nomination for its lead single “Angry.”

In 1997 I did an interview with Keith Richards where we discussed touring and stage repertoire.

“Once you’re on the stage it’s just some floor boards in spite of it. And you’re not really aware of everything you are seeing. But what really keeps tours going and alive for the band and therefore for the audience I think is to change it and to play the smaller joints indoors. And the small stage with the show.

“It’s necessary to change the scale sometimes. Otherwise, you can really get used to the large thing. And you realize when you’re playing a small gig that you get dynamics back and you can re-translate that back to the big stage.

“In a way, maybe when you write songs without even knowing it, you’re kinda saying, ‘Can I do this live?’ And so, in a way you add that in. You don’t know if it’s gonna work, but I guess you keep in the back of your mind is ‘We’re making a record here. What happens if they all like it and we gotta play it live?’ So, in a way, that maybe in the back of the mind it sets up the song to be playable on stage.”

Guitarist Don Peake, before he was on recording sessions with the Jackson Five, Barry White, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Sonny & Cher, the Monkees, and Phil Spector, first encountered Keith and the Rolling Stones from a1963 Don Arden-produced UK tour he did with the Everly Brothers. Also on the bill were Bo Diddley, Julie Grant, Mickie Most, and the Flintstones.

Don had sat with Keith Richards on many occasions, coaching and showing him instrument tips at various stops on the trek.

“I have picked up as many hints on guitar playing as I can from Don Peake, who is the Everly Brothers guitarist,” volunteered Richards in a 1963 edition of New Musical Express. “He really is a fantastic guitarist, and the great thing about him is that he is always ready to show me a few tricks.”

Today, around his sessions and live gigs, music teacher Peake is on the faculty at the Bridges Academy in Los Angeles, a college prep school.


The Rolling Stones playing surprise set on October 19, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for RS)

“Performing to me is something you’re born with in some ways,” offered Mick Jagger in 2008 at a Santa Monica, California press and media viewing of the Martin Scorsese-directed 2006 Shine A Light concert film of the Rolling Stones performances at the Beacon Theatre.

“You can learn some of it-and you have to-but ultimately, I think that performing urge is within you and the best shows are from people who just naturally take to it. I don’t know where the energy comes from, it’s just there.”

The Rolling Stones and Mercury Studios released The Rolling Stones Live At The Wiltern on DVD + 2CD; Blu-Ray + 2CD, 2CD, 3LP (3 variants: Black, Gold (D2C Exclusive), and Black & Bronze Swirl (Amazon Exclusive) on March 8, 2024.

One of the greatest box-office successes of 2002/2003, 117 shows grossing over $300 million, the Rolling Stones’ Licks World Tour—in support of their 40 Licks compilation—celebrated the band’s 40th anniversary in splendid fashion, highlighted by this intimate November 22 Los Angeles show at The Wiltern. With its 2,000+-seat capacity, it would prove to be a welcome respite from the global stadiums and arenas.

I was in attendance, courtesy of Charlie Watts. This was a unique gig when tunes like “Stray Cat Blues,” “No Expectations” and “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” (complete with the co-author of this 1964 soul classic, Solomon Burke) rocked the venue.


There are additional Stones-centric documentaries, audio reissues and books that are now available.

In May, Magnolia Pictures and SK Global Entertainment will present Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg. Directed by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill, with words of Anita Pallenberg read by Scarlett Johansson from Pallenberg’s unpublished memoir. The film comes to theaters and VOD on May 3rd.

Catching Fire: The Story Of Anita Pallenberg is about a woman who was at many points in her life a newspaper headline: Anita Pallenberg was a “rock n’ roll goddess,” a “voodoo priestess,” and an “evil seductress.” She was accused of trying to break up the Rolling Stones, among other things. But those who loved her considered her an exciting cultural force, and a loving mother – and innocent of the accusations.

Never-seen-before home movies and family photographs explore life with the Rolling Stones and tell a bittersweet tale of both triumph and heartbreak. From Barbarella to the Swiss Alps, and the Lower East Side to London, Anita Pallenberg was a fascinating creative force ahead of her time.

“Anita Pallenberg,” emphasized photographer and music journalist Heather Harris, “surpassed her gorgeous European fashion model classification by seeming to be, to all who encountered her, one of the most reckless extroverts to ever stride the planet.”

It’s a terrific documentary about this glorious muse, fashion icon, and actress, who was the co-star of Performance.

Andrew Loog Oldham served as manager and record producer of the Rolling Stones 1963-1967. In July 2023 I queried Andrew about Anita via email.

“Anita joined the group in late ’66. We had come back to the UK, sorta burnt out from four years on a rock ‘n’ pop world tour, and all the recordings. We did one last UK tour with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Then the psychedelic period kicked in, the result was Satanic Majesties Request. I left three weeks into that, probably 24 hours before I would have been asked to leave. Allen Klein may have taken over the money, but Anita, and Marianne [Faithfull] to a lesser extent, took over the game. And the game was strong and the band moved successfully to where they stay today.”

In 1995 I interviewed Marianne Faithfull. She praised Anita and also mentioned Pallenberg was working on an autobiography.

“Like most of the time I don’t remember what people were wearing. I remember what Allen [Ginsberg] was wearing, because often, Allen would take his clothes off. So, I would know that and understand that. And that’s a very simple situation.

 “Now Anita actually remembers things only through what we were wearing, ‘cause that’s what she’s interested in. I don’t mean that as a put down,” she smiled. “But that’s how she remembers things. When I say, ‘Do you remember such and such a day…?’ The way back for Anita is ‘Oh yeah… You were wearing a red velvet …and I was wearing…’ You’d dig her, man.”

In 1994, Anita Pallenberg graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in London with a fashion and textile degree.


Also from Magnolia, in 2023, was Nick Broomfield’s documentary The Stones & Brian Jones which uncovers the true story and legacy of Brian Jones, the founder and creative genius of the Rolling Stones.

As a schoolboy aged 14, Nick Broomfield met Jones, by chance, on a train. Brian was at the height of his success, with the world at his feet, yet just six years later he would be dead.

Brian Jones was the golden boy of the Rolling Stones, the visionary who gave the band its name, and helped shape their 1963-1969 sound. His contributions turned the Mick Jagger-Keith Richards tunes into pop culture benchmarks and trailblazing hits.

The Stones & Brian Jones looks at the relationships and rivalries within the Rolling Stones in those formative years. It explores the iconoclastic freedom and exuberance of the 60s, a time of intergenerational conflict and sexual turmoil which reflects on where we are today.

Implementing interviews with all the main players and unseen archive released for the first time, The Stones & Brian Jones explores the creative musical genius of Jones, key to the success of the band, and uncovers how the founder of what became the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world was left behind in the shadows of history.

Nick Broomfield says of his inspiration to make the film, “The Rolling Stones were a major influence in my formative years. Brian and Mick were heroes of the day, their rebellion and breaking of the rules were a great inspiration to us.”

In February 2024, the documentary was released on DVD by Magnolia Home Entertainment.


During a 2013 interview with well-respected record producer and artist manager Denny Bruce, who represented arranger/composer/songwriter and record producer, Jack Nitzsche, Bruce discussed his 1966-1969 encounters with Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones and Keith Richards.

“Being in Los Angeles in 1966, Keith and Brian wanted to know if anybody, like Lowell Fulson, was playing at any blues club in town? ‘Tramp’ by Lowell was number one this week on their turntables. Jack took the whole band to Watts to see Etta James at the California Club. I went to one of the Aftermath sessions at RCA.

“In fall of 1967 I heard the final mix of Neil Young’s ‘Expecting to Fly’ recording on Buffalo Springfield Again one night at Jack’s house. Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg were there. Jack said it was ‘the perfect recording to smoke pot with.’

“Earlier that afternoon I drove Keith and Anita in my Volkswagen to Disneyland. My first Cali car. I clearly remember driving my VW bug with Keith and Anita. That was it – just the three of us. Anita got in and then Keith got in, but didn’t move the seat to get in the back. So, it was hard to drive and shift gears with Anita’s crotch on the floor mounted gear shift.

“She beamed and said, ‘This is fabulous being in a Volkswagen in Los Angeles!’

“Somewhere in the 1967 or ’68 time period Mick, Keith and Jack worked with Marianne Faithfull on ‘Sister Morphine.’

“Keith and Anita liked getting out of the hotels. Marianne and Anita liked to swim in Jack’s pool. During their visit we went out to eat several times. A little French place in West Hollywood near Fairfax High School comes into mind. ‘Sister Morphine’ was written at Jack’s house, during the days of hanging by the swimming pool.

“What people forget was it was hard just to get into Disneyland in those days if you had long hair. I was lucky with Keith and Anita as it was a slow day there, and he was not wearing anything unusual. But showing up as five people, looking like a band, would have caused trouble with security. Jack and I were hassled when we went there with Buffy St Marie, who was performing an afternoon show.”

Keith Richard at the Los Angeles Forum, November 8, 1969. (Photo by Henry Diltz)

In October of 1969, Bruce and Richards went shopping for clothes and rare record albums. Denny schlepped Keith over to Ed Pearl’s Ash Grove music club on Melrose Avenue which housed a record section run by collector Chris Peake. Keith forked out some big bucks for a rare 1965 copy of The Cool Sounds of Albert Collins. Denny at the time managed Collins.

Nitzsche did the choral arrangement for the choir on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from the Let It Bleed album. He phoned Merry Clayton to sing on “Gimme Shelter.” Nitzsche was a major contributor to both the Aftermath and Between the Buttons albums.

In the Stones’ recorded catalog, his keyboard, harpsichord and percussion work can be heard on such gems as “Play With Fire,” “Yesterday’s Papers,” and “Sister Morphine.” He played tambourine and piano on “Satisfaction,” and was the pianist on “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

During 2000, I conducted an interview with Jack Nitzsche at his Beachwood Canyon home. Jack and I talked about the film Performance. His epic soundtrack is still popular and was groundbreaking in terms of music merger. Blues, spoken word and electronic score in one package with Mick Jagger co-starring in a movie role.

“The Rolling Stones had nothing to do with it. It was Mick who came to me about doing the soundtrack. In fact, Keith and Mick wouldn’t even talking to each other during those days. Somebody came to them to do a movie, which was Christian Marquand, who directed the film Candy. (Director) Donald Cammell was close to the Stones. He knew who I was from the beginning, and they didn’t have time to score the film. Nor did they want to.

“So, I went to London for some reason, and saw the film during that time. They were doing Let It Bleed. The movie blew my mind the first time I saw it. Jesus Christ… I saw it without music. It’s very tame without music. It doesn’t take you to that crazy place. This is the only movie I have ever done where nobody interfered. Nobody.

“Donald Cammell would drop by the studio once in a while. He let me do whatever I wanted. I did the soundtrack at Western here in Hollywood. When I was in London, the apartment they got me was right around the corner where Keith was living with Anita.

“I thought ‘Memo From Turner’ had a clever lyric. I felt Mick was going in another direction from the band.

“With the film music I was allowed to do musically whatever I wanted to do. No instructions from the director. Nobody telling me yes or no. I did anything I wanted to do I could do. That’s what I did. You know, made up things in the studio. It was amazing. I like both the vinyl and the CD. But I have a thing for vinyl, but I like what CD does too.

“Anita on the screen. God damn. You saw the film. I would want to see the film again. I want to see what’s holding that film up. To this day, I’ll be in a restaurant, or walking down a street, or leaving a screening on a lot somewhere like at Paramount, and someone will mention Performance. Recently (director) Billy Friedkin saw me walking across the street and yelled ‘Performance! The greatest use of music in a motion picture ever!’ That was nice.

“I co-wrote ‘Gone Dead Train’ which Randy Newman did on the soundtrack.”

“If I were to try and define Jack’s overall contribution, I’d say he provided the melodic bond, the undercurrent to Keith and Brian’s layers of guitar brainwash,” detected Andrew Loog Oldham.

“Jack was always the consummate pro. Jack gave us an understanding of tone. Which tone fits the universe? Jack understood microphone placement, where band members sat and instrument leakage. One other thing. Jack had a grasp of, and interest in sex. How to inject sex into the sound. That is a gift of understanding between you and your third ear.”


I’d like to recommend a box set ABKCO Records issued last February, The Rolling Stones Singles 1966-1971. The limited-edition collection includes reproductions of 18 7” vinyl singles and extended play records, as originally released by Decca, London Records and ABKCO Records. The compilation serves as a second volume and companion to The Rolling Stones Singles 1963-1966 (ABKCO, 2022).

All tracks were remastered by 13-time Grammy Award-winning engineer Bob Ludwig, and the discs are manufactured by Third Man Pressing in Detroit.

The set, replete with period-correct picture sleeve art, also comes with a 32-page book containing extensive liner notes by Stones authority Nigel Williamson, as well as rare photos and ephemera, plus a set of five photo cards and a poster, all housed in a hard-shell box.

The Rolling Stones Singles 1966-1971 spans a crucial period in the band’s evolution, when their move towards the experimental and psychedelic sounds of “We Love You” and “She’s a Rainbow” gave way to the rootsy, blues-based rock of “Honky Tonk Women” and “Wild Horses.”

Singles 1966-1971 contains both the US and UK versions of the 45; the latter’s B-side “Long Long While” is a rare non-LP track. Other rare B-sides in the set include “Who’s Driving Your Plane” from “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?,” and “Child Of The Moon” from UK #1 “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

The collection faithfully reproduces that controversial record art, and also includes the 1971 UK maxi-single version of “Street Fighting Man,” with “Surprise Surprise” and “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”

While not technically a Rolling Stones song, Mick Jagger’s “Memo From Turner” from the Jack Nitzsche-produced Performance soundtrack is incorporated here. Originally released as a single in 1970, the song features slide guitar by Ry Cooder, and its B-side “Natural Magic” is a Cooder instrumental. 

While every track on The Rolling Stones 1966-1971 box set was recorded in the time frame suggested by its title, some of the records were originally released later. “I Don’t Know Why,” “Out Of Time” and the stereo mix of the 1969 #1 hit “Honky Tonk Women” were 45s that came out in 1975-76, around the time ABKCO issued the Stones rarities album Metamorphosis.

Mick Jagger at the Los Angeles Forum, November 8, 1969 (Photo by Henry Diltz)

“Sympathy for the Devil” was remixed separately by the Neptunes and Fat Boy Slim in 2003 and originally released as part of a Super Audio CD at the time – it’s here as a 7” vinyl record. 

Stones collectors can also take satisfaction in the mono mixes of “We Love You” and its flipside “Dandelion” (1967), which both contain a reprise at the end with an ode to the other track. These are both exclusive to the single release. 

I suggest you take a listen to the Rolling Stones’ catalog in mono. Especially their 1964-1967 studio excursions.

“To understand why these mono mixes are so important, you have to know the historical environment,” acknowledged novelist Daniel Weizmann. “The music’s original delivery system – 45s and AM radio – was a total contrast to the world around it. In those days, you didn’t hear rock music at the supermarket, the stationery store, or the car wash. The piped-in instrumentals were ‘hi-fidelity’ and crystal clarity was the gold standard. This new sound coming over the car radio was a thunderous onslaught, a dirty stampede in which no one instrument, not even the lead singer, could steal the spotlight.

“Compare any one of these tracks to something from the great Tutti Camarata or, say, a Bobby Darin 45 and you can immediately hear the difference. The Stones, more than most of their contemporaries, had a different set of sonic intentions – with hidden piano parts, tape bleeds, and a rumbling bass that seems to seep out onto every other instrument. It’s what set them apart. They aimed to disrupt.”

“I bought Out of Our Heads for $2.98 at Frigate Records in what is now West Hollywood in that glorious summer of 1965,” volunteered author and musician Kenneth Kubernik. “I still own it. ‘Mono’ is prominently displayed on the front cover; the alternative version, for a buck more, had something called ‘electronically reprocessed stereo’ or some such nonsense which made little sense to my eleven year old brain.

“Stereo was reserved for my friends’ parents’ hi-fi systems, to play Mantovani (also on London Records) or Andy Williams with strings albums. Since we were still immersed in buying singles, the concepts of mixing, mastering, track separation, etc. made no impact. It was just the electric charge of that opening riff on ‘The Last Time,’ or Jagger’s commanding ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is…’ which centered our attention,

“It was until years later that I finally heard the stereo mix of ‘…Satisfaction’ and the distant tinkle of Ian Stewart’s piano (or is that Jack Nitzsche?) and Keith’s acoustic guitar finally made its presence felt. That’s fine for our current epicurean sensibilities; as a kid way back then, though, it was more than enough to sing along to the jangly, unkempt ‘Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man,’ whoever he was.”

“I heard something else in these unified mono mixes, though — a seriousness, a self-conscious commitment to announcing the power of this blues/R&B music and living out the freedom it seemed to promise,” observed poet and deejay Dr. James Cushing.

“That seriousness comes through in the unified sound of the mono mixes. ‘Here are these songs,’ the albums say. ‘They are the essence of what we do and who we are.’

“Actually, the Stones were ahead of the Beatles in terms of their use of stereo! Aftermath, from early ‘66, offers a stronger, more realistic stereo mix than Revolver or Sgt Pepper. Not being contractually tied to Abbey Road Studios, the Stones could sample a wider variety of engineering concepts and the early records really benefit from that,” summarized Dr. Cushing.

 “Well, our first six years of TV was all black and white because we didn’t have color in England until 1968,” underscored bass player Bill Wyman in a 2002 interview I conducted.

“All the [television] shows, like Ready, Steady Go! were all shot in black and white. The band were a black and white band. They were a mono band sound wise so we always tried to mix in kind of a mono feel. We didn’t have things right out wide on the left and right. It was only the record companies that did that with fake stereo and stuff which sounded bloody horrible in the mid-‘60s. We always tried to mix our sound to sound monish because we liked that sound, that ballsy thing, and everybody else cleaned it up, didn’t they?”

Andrew Loog Oldham and Jimmy Miller are the producers of these ABKCO mono and stereo recordings of the Rolling Stones.

Before Oldham and the band parted company during 1967, Andrew produced the group’s first fifteen singles, including “Satisfaction” which, in the second half of ’65, went to # 1 in 38 countries. Additionally, he produced their first ten LPs and first three EPs.

“We did ‘Tell Me’ at Regent Street studio,” reminisced Andrew in a 2004 interview with me. “Keith’s guitar leaked throughout the bass drum because there weren’t enough microphones to go around. And you have to remember it was basically the first song Mick and Keith wrote together that they recorded for themselves. ‘Tell Me’ was sexy.

“I just remember the relationship between the drum kit and the acoustic guitar. You could only overdub once more. Mono to mono. You can hear the leakage,” he volunteered.

Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Andrew Loog Oldham and Mick Jagger at RCA Hollywood, December 1965. (Photo by Gered Mankowitz)

“Then we went to Hollywood. RCA. Studio A. Which was huge. I went, ‘This is it. We have our home.’ I met engineer Dave Hassinger in there, Of course, he was doing a session. Dave Hassinger looked like Los Angeles.

“I think there are two tambourines on ‘Satisfaction.’ There’s a regular one that easily could have been Jack Nitzsche. But in the middle, it was too American for that part and that’s Brian Jones. And Jack plays piano. He was brilliant, man. Come on. The piano on ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ was just turnaround Charlie.

Between the Buttons and Aftermath, without a doubt quite a few harried moments. And we did it in Hollywood at RCA. Aftermath works. They wrote every song on the record. It’s like when you go see a stage show or see a movie that works. One of the keys is ‘besides the fact that’s it’s not me on stage. That’s me.’ So, there is a sense of humor with the songs and the records. We’re in Hollywood. Some of Hollywood came through the door and I’m one of the conduits dragging it in,” underlined Andrew.

Aftermath and Between the Buttons, and, in the US, Flowers, were some of my finest hours as Mick and Keith reached the ability to compose whole albums for the Stones. The songs were just brilliant, only eclipsed by the idea that the Beatles, Ray Davies and, coming up through the ranks, Pete Townshend, wrote better.

“The media and the BBC would just not accept what damn fine writers Mick and Keith had turned into. Wonderful social commentaries that had their roots somewhere between vaudeville and the BBC World Service,” Andrew suggested. “I’m not just talking about the obvious, ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Paint it Black. I’m talking ‘She Smiled Sweetly,’ ‘Connection,’ ‘All Sold Out,’ and ‘Back Street Girl.’ The laconic comments, the posed rancor, Mick and Keith’s songs at that time cut right through the picket fence and into the very life of them.

“There’s incredible clarity to what they were doing. It was like a linear thing. Filmic. They were vivid, and the key to that vividness was Brian Jones. The organ on ‘She Smiled Sweetly’ by Brian is just amazing. I like ‘She Smiled Sweetly’ more than ‘Lady Jane’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday.’ ‘Sweetly’ was boy/girl, living on the same floor. Whereas both those other songs have a ‘to the manor born’ quality to them. Trying to write and evoke. I love ‘Out of Time.’ On the initial recording it’s Mick Jagger pulling off Jimmy Ruffin.”


There are two new photo-driven books on the Stones to enjoy.

The Rolling Stones Rare and Unseen: Photographs by Gered Mankowitz, with a foreword by Keith Richards and an afterword by Andrew Loog Oldham is published by Welbeck. Legendary photographer Gered Mankowitz helped to shape the very image of the Stones, shooting record covers, he delves deep into his incomparable archive, uncovering the hidden gems that have remained unpublished and unseen for over 50 years – until now.

Alongside his iconic and much-loved images that captured the Stones at their swaggering best, these photographs show the band unguarded and unvarnished – young men in the eye of a rock ‘n’ roll storm, with the world at their feet. Hundreds of photographs are accompanied by Gered’s memories and revealing memories and essays on the band by authors including author Will Hodgkinson and the New York Times‘ Ben Sisario.

“It always appeared to me that Andrew Loog Oldham was integral to those early sessions at RCA Hollywood for the Aftermath album and also at Olympic throughout 1965/66 & 67,” reinforced Mankowitz in a 2024 email. “He had great ears for a hit and always seemed to be completely aligned with the band and their process.”

“Gered was there for the fun part of the journey,” stressed Andrew in a 2024 correspondence. “When we all pulled together. Once we were regarded as employees we bailed.”


ACC Art Books Ltd in late 2023 published The Rolling Stones: Icons. (Full disclosure: I penned the introduction to this volume.) The book includes iconic, rare and unseen images of the Rolling Stones. Each photographer has selected images for their chapter and written an introductory text about their time working with the band. The Rolling Stones: Icons brings together the greatest photographs ever taken of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. The result is a very important anthology of the Rolling Stones’ images ever compiled, featuring the iconic, the awe inspiring and the surprising.

Spanning six heady decades, and countless tours and album covers, this portfolio features imagery from some of the most eminent names in photography, alongside the photographers’ own memories and reflections.

From Terry O’Neill’s images of the young, uncompromising new band taken in Denmark Street, through Michael Brennan’s photos of their creative peak in the ’70s, and on to the stadium tours of the 21st-century, as shot by Greg Brennan, The Rolling Stones: Icons captures many of the milestone moments of the band’s career.

The photographs are by Terry O’Neill, Michael Ward, Gered Mankowitz, founding Stones member Bill Wyman, Linda McCartney, Michael Joseph, Tony Sanchez, Dominique Tarle, Ed Caraeff, Barry Schultz, Al Satterwhite, Michael Brennan, Ken Regan, Brian Aris, Denis O’Regan, Douglas Kirkland, and Greg Brennan.

“As far as photographing the Rolling Stones, the Stones seemed more like five individuals,” posed Terry O’Neill. “And Andrew Loog Oldham understood. When I worked on a newspaper if I couldn’t get over to his office to photograph someone, he’d bring them over to The Daily Sketch office and I’d photograph them. Marianne Faithfull came over one day. Can you imagine that happening today?”

“Something very powerful is happening in those photos that’s way beyond a shtick or a bad boy pose,” theorized writer Daniel Weizmann to me. “See, until then, all of showbiz was really built on this basic unspoken agreement: the entertainer is there to wow the audience, please the audience. And the Rolling Stones, in those photos, they mercilessly break that contract… the same way Dostoevsky broke the basic reader/ storyteller connection, the same way Picasso shatters our visual centre.

“The Stones manage, by calling the terms of the exchange, to reverse objectification. Even in black and white, the Beatles we meet are something fun for us to look at. Whereas the Rolling Stones are staring right back at us, as if to say. ‘You define us? No, no, we define you’.”

(Portions of this story initially appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Record Collector News magazine.)

© Harvey Kubernik 2024

Keith Richards and Harvey Kubernik in San Diego, February 1999.

HARVEY KUBERNIK in 1969 witnessed his first two concerts by the Rolling Stones in Southern California at the Inglewood Forum. He caught five shows by the band in 1972 when they returned to the area, and in 1975 attended five dates in the Southland.

In 2013 Harvey was filmed for the BBC-TV documentary on Bobby Womack, Across 110th Street, directed by James Meycock. Womack, a longtime associate of the Rolling Stones, co-wrote their first hit single in the US, “It’s All Over Now.” Bobby Womack, the Stones’ Ronnie Wood, Regina Womack, Damon Albarn of Blur/the Gorillaz, and Antonio Vargas are spotlighted.

Kubernik is the author of 20 books, including 2009’s Canyon Of Dreams: The Magic And The Music Of Laurel Canyon, 2014’s Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll In Los Angeles 1956-1972, 2015’s Every Body Knows: Leonard Cohen, 2016’s Heart of Gold Neil Young and 2017’s 1967: A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love. Sterling/Barnes and Noble in 2018 published Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik’s The Story Of The Band: From Big Pink To The Last Waltz. In 2021 they wrote Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child for Sterling/Barnes and Noble.

Otherworld Cottage Industries in 2020 published Harvey’s Docs That Rock, Music That Matters. His writings are in several book anthologies, including The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats and Drinking with Bukowski.

Harvey wrote the liner notes to the CD re-releases of Carole King’s Tapestry, The Essential Carole King, Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish, Elvis Presley The ’68 Comeback Special, The Ramones’ End of the Century, and Big Brother & the Holding Company Captured Live at The Monterey International Pop Festival.

During 2006 he spoke at the special hearings initiated by The Library of Congress held in Hollywood, California, discussing archiving practices and audiotape preservation. In 2017 Kubernik appeared at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of their Distinguished Speakers Series. Since 2012 Harvey has been the Editorial Director of Record Collector News magazine).