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Exile on Main Street


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About the Author

Robert Greenfield's latest books include Timothy Leary: A Biography, and S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones. An award-winning novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and journalist, he lives in California.


By 1971, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin were dead and Jim Morrison soon would be. Equally troubled, the Rolling Stones, those bad boy icons of the era, took their decadent circus to the French Riviera to escape British taxes and record an album. In a slang-filled present tense, Greenfield (Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia) gives good gossip about the mayhem that ensued at the Villa Nellcote, the palatial mansion and supposed former Gestapo headquarters that Keith Richards rented as his getaway. Greenfield tells of who slept with whom, Keith's outlaw antics and the massive amounts of drugs consumed. The central story, however, is the struggle between Keith and Mick Jagger, who was increasingly drawn to high society, typified by his marriage to Bianca Perez-Mora. A who's who of celebs passed through Nellcote that summer, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Gram Parsons. In the last analysis, it's amazing that the Stones managed to record an album at all, but Exile on Main Street may well be their greatest. Greenberg's writing is cliched at times, but his account is energetic. In the end, he takes sides (Keith's mostly) and settles scores, but that only ups the entertainment value. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"The sense of chaos and evil that surrounded the recording of "Exile on Main Street" is palpable in Greenfield's thrillingly immediate... prose." New York Times Book Review "Anyone who thinks heroin enhances musical performance should read Exile on Main Street, Robert Greenfield's fly-on-the-syringe account." New York Daily News"

In an effort to escape their considerable British tax obligations, the Rolling Stones fled England in 1971 for Keith Richards's rented mansion in the south of France, Villa Nellcote. Aside from the band members themselves, a variety of hangers-on, celebrities, drug dealers, and local hoods passed through the estate, creating the decadent, vaguely dangerous atmosphere that prevailed while the Stones recorded their seminal double album, Exile on Main St. Greenfield, who wrote about the Stones's 1972 tour (S.T.P.), was there and leaves nothing to the imagination in this grandiose chronicle of a record and an era. Richards is introduced as "our hero" and the recently departed Brian Jones as "The Ghost." In short, this is primarily tabloid material and reads as such. Recounting in lurid detail all the drug taking, sexual dalliances, treachery, and dissipation, Greenfield purposefully avoids focusing on the music itself, which he regards as generally overrated. For that, try John Perry's Exile on Main St.: The Rolling Stones or Bill Janovitz's The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. For die-hards only.-Dave Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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