Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)” as Want to Read:
Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  35 reviews
"German is party to all sort of Stones' doings, many of which are enjoyable, quite a few of which are scandalous. Great rock 'n' roll Babylon stuff."
- Booklist (Starred Review)

"The epic tale of an obsessive teenager who launched a Rolling Stones fanzine and spent the next two decades capturing the band’s whirlwind metamorphosis from behind the scenes….First-rate, firsthand
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Villard (first published January 1st 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Under Their Thumb, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Under Their Thumb

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 231)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Peggy Sturman
This was a very entertaining read. I recommend to anyone, espeically if you are a Stones fan. Bill German was a Stones fan, who founded a fanzine that ended up becoming the official Rolling Stones newsletter. He ended up working for them for many years. Not only are the Stones stories he share interesting, his journey is really worth the read!
Dr. Detroit
I love the Stones as much as the next guy, but Bill German’s single-minded quest to chronicle their every waking moment via his “Beggars Banquet” fanzine reeks of the desperate maneuverings of a stalker with nothing much on his plate besides staking out hotels, studios, and nightclubs for a quick and fleeting glimpse of his heroes. He even dropped out of college to follow his muse but stopped short of shaving his head, climbing a tower, and shooting at pedestrians.

But that’s not to say there’s n
Vince Darcangelo
This review originally appeared in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS

Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)

Nonfiction. By Bill German. Villard Books, $25. Grade: B

Book in a nutshell: Bill German lived out the ultimate fanboy fantasy. In 1978, he started Beggars Banquet, a Rolling Stones music zine. This started an 18-year journey in which German befriended his idols and Beggars Banquet became the official Stones’ newsletter.
German c
So far the only thing I like about this book are the pictures of a young Keith Richards.


And I've finished. This book should have been fun to read. I mean, the title makes me think that Bill German was IN with the Stones and was going to tell me some great stories that would make me even more sad that I work for Corporate America. Instead, I got a whiny dude making me feel like reading was a chore. Not cool, Bill German. I started doggy-earing (is that a word?)
"Under Their Thumb" catalogs the dangerously magnetic pull that celebrity and desire to follow a pipe dream can have on a young person's life.

Bill German forgoes food, comfortable living conditions, companionship, sex, medical care, family, NYU journalism school--for the chance to hang with the stones. For 15 years, he gets dogged, mocked, evaded, and given crap combed-through minutiae by the band's assistants and salaried member, Ron Wood, that he "may" use in his Rolling Stones' fanzine, "Begg
Bill German was a die hard teen age fan of the Stones. From his bedroom he started a fanzine and from Brooklyn made connections that brought him into the Stones' orbit. The band was well established at this point so he didn't see the phenomena from its roots. He saw, and more importantly understood, the people, the music and the environment surrounding the Rolling Stones for their next 16 or 17 years.

This book has a lot to offer on many levels. It describes the culture of a major tour, the peopl
Carolyn Alfieri
I'm a sucker for rock and roll legends. Especially if the legend includes sex, drugs, groupies and death. Since this is the Rolling Stones Bill is writing about, I was not disappointed.
Long interesting story short, when Bill was a lad, he started a fanzine for his favorite band, the Rolling Stones. The planets aligned and Bill found himself face to face with his idols, giving Ron Wood a copy of "Beggar's Banquet". Before he knows it, he is the editor of the official Stone's newsletter, intervie
Are you curious about the Stones post umm 1978? No?!

Well. . .are you interested in what a pain in the ass it was for a dude to run a fanzine called Beggars Banquet for 15 years during the Stones' creative nadir?

I didn't think I would be. But I'll give it to this dude - he kept me turning pages. . .

He hung out a lot with Woody. . .so much that they had an inside joke pertaining to bananas. Just eating them. Nothing prurient. So that's an inside joke that's not gonna get used in the next Apatow
Kent Pedersen
Absolutely essential to any hardcore fan of The Rolling Stones. It covers years we seldom hear much about. Everybody knows the stories from the sixties and seventies, so it's nice to see that the eighties and nineties has stories that are equally wild and fun. It's just that nobody ever told them. Well, read Bill German's excellent book and learn even more. It's a great read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
German's decade plus of obsessive dedication the Stones, devoid of much fiscal sense or career ambition (vastly overrated characteristics anyway) makes for a compelling read for anyone who ever alienated friends and neighbors playing Get Yer Ya-Yas out too loud and too late.

His tone is nicely devoid of the self-aggrandizing that often characterizes such memoirs. The book mostly avoids prurient cheap thrills and focuses on the music. German went apeshit for the sound of the Stones at an early age
Linda Lauren
OMG...I'm finished, and I disliked the book and the author intensely. He makes flip fun of people in this juvenile attempt at writing. The ultimate groupie with his Rolling Stones fanzine (Beggar's Banquet) he is like a Peter Pan who never grew up.

The author wants our sympathy and understanding while being condescending as he whines about his life through old TV references that are either unrecognizable or so out-dated they are embarrassing. There are too many rock books that are better than thi
Apr 03, 2009 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of How Soon is Never
Recommended to Eric by: the author's agent
I'm no afficionado on the Stones and I still found every page of this memoir worthwhile. German stays the course of twenty-plus years on the Stones' trail and tells some great stories about the band, but also about the crazy crowds that followed them. There is an underlying theme about the commercialization of rock-n-roll music that is predictable from a fan who knew them (personally and well) way before they filled arenas, but Bill German's treatment of their selling out is personal; I could re ...more
This was a very enlightening book. It shows how things go on behind the scenes, the things that the public usually don't see. It shows how the music business can become a pure money making scheme if the right people allow it to, and how sometimes the people at the bottom get trampled on and taken advantage of by the wrong (higher up) people.
This was interesting not only for what you learn about the Stones and their grand ascent to the top of commercialized music. But also for the kind of sad story of a young man blinded by his near adoration of the Stones to the point that it takes over his life. He seesaws between somewhat influential and barely hanging on, but he never seems to question that. "Mixed up" in the subtitle says it well. It is fascinating to read how this one-day-leads-to-the-next life went on for so long. It had its ...more
Grabbed this book for a re-read since I was going to a book signing by the author at our local library. Really is a great view of the Stones during an usually somwhat under-examined period of time in their long career. The author's voice throughout is well balanced between his lifelong status as a fan and his professional role of journalist. Not to be read if you are looking for analysis of musical influences or how to tune your guitar to Keith's favorite open tuning but for a glimpse into the d ...more
German produced 'Beggars' Banquet', the official American Stones fanzine, for 17 years, and got to know the band well, especially Keith Richard and Ron Woods - 'Woody'. The rest of the title should read 'and lived to tell the tale'...A well written, frank account of rock and roll, sex and drugs (not that Bill had much time for the last two....his fanzine took up all his energy!)- without openly slagging off certain members of the band, it becomes apparent who are the good guys.
Carol Kowalski
Insider, funny, and all-heart. Bill German heard his sister's Rolling Stones records when he was 15, and there was no turning back. His coming-of-age and young manhood years were then consumed by the up-to-the-minute fanzine he wrote, published, and distributed to RS fans through the 1980s and into the 1990s. His access to the Stones, smart prose style, and self-deprecating sense of humor make this one of my favorite music books on a very short list.
Hannah Jo Parker
I ended up skimming this book after reading the first 50 pages or so. It made me terribly uncomfortable because I couldn't get past the feeling that the author was inflating very small events and interactions with the Rolling Stones into much bigger deals than they really were. His entire self worth and livelihood are so caught up in the band and their acknowledgement of him that it made me terribly sad.
Entertaining to some extent, but you really have to love the Rolling Stones and I've never been that much of a fan. The author spent a lot of time with them as the group started to split a bit, and he was privy to a lot of their inner workings. But, as I said, you've got to really like the Stones.
An amusing and engrossing account of the author's adventures as the founder of the fanzine 'Beggars Banquet' and his involvment with the Rolling Stones. Should be of strong interest to both Rolling Stones fans and those interested in the corporatization and degeneration of popular music.
Chris Rea
A very personal account of the Stones. Mick is every bit the jerk that others portray him to be, Keith is depicted as a kindly older brother, Ronnie a barrel of laughs and Charlie, the genius savant. A bit slow at times but entertaining.
Ann Stevens
The author obviously did not like Mick Jagger. But the book gives great insight into how the 'rock music' industry and how ticket prices are so expensive because of how the Rolling Stones 're-marketed' themselves.
shows the passion one has to have to create a Zine and spend years publishing it. also, of course the insider's look at the Stones--Keith & Woody cool guys, Mick all over the map from nice guy to aloof--
Tim Stewart
Loved it in the way it takes you back to simple days; days when you loved something so much you would just live it. Author seems like the best guy to take you behind the scenes of a band this big.
Jesus Bautista
this is a great book. It describes everything about the personalities of all the rolling stones. It also shows the trouble you had to go through to be a part of their group of friends.
OK, I love to read anything about the Stones and I did enjoy this book. But, I felt sorry for German and the fact that he devoted his life to stalking the band.
Jan 09, 2011 Lawrence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rolling Stones fans
Shelves: music, biography
what happens when a fan goes from 'wanting to know everything to knowing too much". a pretty accurate portrayal based on my experiences and observations.
Loved meeting Bill German and wanted to love his book ... but it didn't quite grab me. I suspect I'll pick it up again sometime.
Nov 29, 2008 Robin marked it as to-read
Love the Stones and so this looks interesting. (Bill, rec'd ARC on this yet?)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Bill German's Under Their Thumb 1 11 Jan 28, 2009 05:43PM  
  • Stoned
  • Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie
  • Memoirs of an Amnesiac
  • Papa John
  • Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones
  • Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle
  • Up and Down with the Rolling Stones
  • Rod: The Autobiography
  • The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan
  • The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years
  • Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend
  • Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out
  • Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy
  • Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock 'n' Roll Band
  • Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, or My Life As a Fabulous Ronette
  • Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words
  • Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic
  • Ryan Adams: Losering, a Story of Whiskeytown
Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell about It)

Share This Book