The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 14, 1991 - Page 7i
Blown Away: The
Rolling Stones and
the Death of the
by A.E. Hotchner
Simon and Schuster/hardback
Because A.E. Hotchner is an out-
sider to the rock world, not a music
journalist or a hanger-on, but an au-
thor who has written some biogra-
pjhies of famous people, Blown
Away could have been really bad. He
might have tried to draw conclusions
*about a youth culture he was too old
t© understand (he served in World
War II). Hotchner occasionally
cbmmits such sins, but for the most
part uses his position as an observer
rather than a participant to his liter-
Hotchner interviewed people who
surrounded the Stones or their related
contemporaries. The Stones would
not allow themselves to be inter-
*viewed, save the shadowy sixth
member Ian Stewart. He talked to
their girlfriends, parents, fashion
people, band employees (such as the
filmmakers of Gimme Shelter),
friends and others who had some-
thing interesting to contribute.
Hotchner used quotes from the five
band members from interviews that
were given to other writers. He also
used court testimonies and other le-
gal documents for strong evidence.
The remembrances of these
quoted contemporaries make up the
vast majority of the text; they tell it
like they saw it - the rise, drugs,
paranoia and deaths. Hotchner puts
these fascinating pieces into the
context of his rather pretentious
argument that the Stones
exemplified the '60s (thereby
inflating further the band's
(especially Mick Jagger's) collective
ego). They were one of the first
British R & B groups to hit with
their scruffy, not nice image, who
got busted for using lots of drugs
and then fell when they lost touch
with reality, when their nasty public
stance lead to death at Altamont.
Although the first chapter quotes
about the bloodbath at Altamont are
very painful to read, they give a per-
sonal account which the reader may
or may not believe. Two of the
filmmakers, David and Albert
Maysles, gave their firsthand account
of the disaster.
"But just when Santana and his
group were heating up and creating a
kind of fiesta mood, the disturbances
began. Some kid tried to get near the
stage and the wall of Hell's Angels
clubbed him down with their pool
cues, kicked him with their studded
boots and them jammed his camera
into his face, leaving him moaning
and bleeding on the ground." " They
(the Hell's Angels) began to beat
people for no reason at all, men and
women, whoever was in their vicin-
ity." "A short distance from the
stage there was a sudden, violent
movement. The mass of people
pulled apart, creating a narrow path,
and we caught sight of a young
black man running frantically toward
the stage. There was a blur of activ-
ity, his right arm raised up in the air
as a a second person became in-
volved with him.... It looked like
they were dancing, and then there
was a flash of something shiny....
The camera was on it but what hap-
pened was too fast for us. As it
turned out the camera had recorded
the killing of the black kid. The
dance we thought we saw was a
dance of death."
But for all his collected fascinat-
ing remembrances, Hotchner occa-
sionally makes value judgements.
He insists Stones' girlfriends Anita
Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull
look old and ravaged and have lost
their beauty in the '80s because they
did a lot of drugs in the '60s and
'70s. While the drugs probably con-
tributed to their present ragged look,
Hotchner takes it too far. He often
repeats how they now look 10 years
older than they should, all because of
drugs. Has the author ever heard of
natural aging? Apparently not. He
See BOOKS, Page 9
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