My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue was an interesting book to read, but it left far too much out, was too short for its subject matter, and sort of rambled itself in its style. Marc Spitz kind of jumps all over the place, perhaps trying to emulate Mick’s own gyrations. It starts out with the beginnings of the Stones, but there’s almost nothing at all really written about their beginnings in any real detail. You’re left to fill in the blanks yourself. We find out that their first hit was one given to them by the Beatles, which I already knew, but then their rivalry with the Beatles is never really fleshed out. Apparently Mick and Keith looked up to Lennon, so when Lennon made a derogatory remark about the Stones sometime during the ’70s, they were really hurt.
Here’s what bugs me about the book. Spitz jumps from 1965 to 1967. What happened in between? We’ll never know, at least from Spitz. And that’s the style of the book. He leaps over entire years and periods of time when presumably the Stones aren’t as busy as others, such as the late ’70s. That really annoyed me. He also talks of their touring, sometimes in real detail, and he does go into detail about the infamous Altamont incident, but their life on the road really isn’t addressed in any depth. Most books I’ve read about bands really cover touring, but not this book.
Spitz treats Jagger fairly well, while somehow painting him in a narcissistic, selfish, insecure light at the same time. He clearly admires Jagger’s aging process, wondering time and time again how someone of Jagger’s advanced age can be in such good shape and still have it going for them. And he covers Jagger’s solo work, albeit lightly, as well as his film work, especially the failed Free Jack movie (which I saw and was disappointed in). However, Spitz doesn’t treat Keith Richards very well, portraying him as jealous, callow, and vengeful. It actually makes me want to read Richards’ bio, which I saw in a used bookstore recently. I might get it just for his take on things. It’s also much bigger, so maybe there’ll actually be more on the Stones as a band. Spitz asserts that Richards didn’t get along with Jagger from Exile on Main Street to the present. I don’t know. I’d like to know more.
This book is decent, but barely worthy of three stars, which is why it has a 2.85 rating on Goodreads, I guess. It should have been twice as long and twice as detailed and it should have covered everything. I mean Jagger’s been at it for 50 years and this book is only 300 pages. I think the Lennon bio I recently read was close to 900 pages. That seems more fitting. I don’t know why Spitz chose to write such an abbreviated account and call it a day. Laziness? Boredom? I think he could have done better, and apparently he wrote a good Bowie bio, so he’s capable of more. He just didn’t follow through with this Jagger book and that’s disappointing. I really don’t think I can recommend this book. Pity.