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

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  52 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)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Mickey Mantle
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A tremendous read. The author writes of his years of interaction with the Stones in a journalist matter of fact style.
The author started a Stones Fanzine in high school and spent years with the Stones. His discussion of contemplating suicide during an early mid life crisis was eye opening. Work was fun....then fun became work.
His time with the band coincided with the band, and everything else, becoming corporate. It appears if Mick Jagger was not the biggest star front man in rock and roll histo
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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!
Tim Byrd
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Must Read.

I recommend this for any and every true Rolling Stones fan. Bill German takes you with him on his surreal journey like no one else can or ever will. I just finished reading it but I'm not done reading it. It's that good. Thank you Bill German, Keith, Woody(I mean, Ronnie. Oops :) and gang!
Mark A Logan
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most interesting and informative book I've read about The Stones !
Bill German's journey was a fascinating one which could only have happened in the 70's.
Great anecdotes about life around the Stones and the many characters in the band and surrounding them ! Well worth checking out if you have any interest in the Rolling Stones !
Dr. Detroit
Nov 05, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Hannah Jo Parker
May 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Jason Evans
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is written by the author of the Stones newsletter, which, I subscribed to as a kid. He started his newsletter as a teenager and a fan and worked his way into the lives of the Stones, so, that aspect is very interesting. He goes into tales you can't get from any other source - like, day to day life of Keith and Ronnie - how they lived, where they lived, what they may do on a boring Thursday afternoon. He talks in great detail about the album "Dirty Work" and I understand now why it's so guit ...more
edward kealy
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fanaticism and the Rolling Stones. How a niice boy from Brooklyn got obsessed with the Stones for seventeen years.

Bill German gives a great inside look at the world of rock and roll stars told from the dual perspective of a fan a nd a journalist. He follows his band around for numerous world tours and along the way founds a fanzine called Beggars Banquet t o document his journeys. He learns and shares many fascinating stories about l life on the road with a touring band as long-lived as the Ston
Bri Gallant
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hats off to the nice young boy from Brooklyn. Before we had the www our fingertips, out of the few fanzine's that were available by snail mail, Bill German's "Beggars Banquet" was a cut above the rest. What I was reading was " as it was" Because He Was There! Under their Thumb takes you right there and then. ...more
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read

I have not been a big Stones fan but have listened to them over the years. Bill German' s book gives insight into the personalities of the Stones. I do wish he would have said more about his post- Stones career at the end of the book.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
I found this book interesting and a change from the usual Stones book.
Written by the person who put out their fan magazine for many years, so it has first hand stories from another viewpoint. Also it focuses on the 80's and 90's rather than the 60's and 70's. Worth it if you are a fan.
Gary Nass
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read, takes the reader behind the scenes with great detail on the personalities of Ron Wood and Keith Richards. Covers concerts for a 13 year span.
Karyn Caputo
Nov 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
If you’re a Stones fan, you must read this
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
Dave Keller
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Entertaining, revealing narrative confirms your biggest hopes and worst fears about rock royalty and their control freak handlers. Great insider stories are the highlight.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
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?)
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
Carolyn Alfieri
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 02, 2010 rated it liked it
"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
May 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Linda Lauren
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Carol Kowalski
Sep 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
mitchell Woods
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book ever on the Stones

I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. Maybe cause I am a Boy from Brooklyn too. But Billy's writing is excellent and his Chutzpah is something to be admired. Keith's biography is great but this book gives you a wide behind the curtain (don't look behind the curtain, said the wizard!) look at the real Stones and their machine. If you love the Stones or love music you will love this book.
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
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. ...more
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Bill German's Under Their Thumb 1 12 Jan 28, 2009 05:43PM  

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