Fan survives life with Rolling Stones

Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:50pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Many music fans dream about meeting their heroes. Rolling Stones fanzine writer Bill German accomplished that feat when he was 17, and became part of the band's inner circle during the 1980s, deftly negotiating the Byzantine layers of political bureaucracy that cushion the British rock icons.

Now 46, the New York native offers a rare inside look at the band's drug-fueled machinations in "Under Their Thumb -- How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with The Rolling Stones (and Lived to tell About It)."

German examines a strange period in the Stones' history, including a bitter feud between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and the band's transformation into a corporate touring machine.

"Some people wind up leaving the Stones circle in caskets or handcuffs because they think that they can keep up with them on a nightly basis," he told Reuters in a recent interview.

German walked away from the band, but not before his physical and mental health suffered to the point where he seriously considered committing suicide at a show.

Q: As far as I can tell you're the only Stones fan who's crossed to the other side and become part of the inner circle.

A: "Right! There may have been other fans who've gotten to hang out with then from time to time, obviously. But there was usually sex or drugs or celebrity involved ... You need to bring something to the table to make them want to hang out with you. Amazingly, my thing was this amateur little fanzine."

Q: But you must have been walking on tiptoes: One false move and they would toss you?   Continued...

<p>Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones pictured in the 1970 documentary film " Gimmie Shelter". REUTERS/File</p>