Stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham
St. Martin's Press, USA February 2001
Secker & Warburg, U.K.

2 Stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham
Secker & Warburg, U.K.

I'm sitting in my bedroom high in the hills of Laurel Canyon with the full moon flooding my 12' by 12' sanctuary, with my blond Philco radio crackling in the afterglow of my lunar madness. The tube powered Philco is tuned to XERB, a station out of Tijuana, Mexico, where the then unknown Wolfman Jack is presiding over the day's latest and greatest. The McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy" is percolating through the four inch speaker as I sit in anticipation. Waiting. The music slides in as the reception is dicey due to the 200 plus mile distance between Hollywood and Old Mexico.

I fumble for a Tareyton cigarette with a non-multi-legged roach stuffed in the front end, still waiting for the mind orgasm of the summer of 1966. I reach for my trusty Ronson lighter and fire up my dirty smoke and inhale deeply, only to cough up enough Mother Nature to kill all the mosquitos outside my open bedroom window.

Just then, the lycanthrope of the airwaves howls me back from my reefer explosion and rasps that he had what I and all the hipsters of Hollywood had been waiting for this early Sunday morning, the full length version of the Rolling Stones' mega cut "Going Home" off their newly released L.P. Aftermath. My weekend was made The slow blues dirge floated through the luminous dust follicles and penetrated my brain, illuminating brain cells that had not yet been awakened in my eggshell mind. The windup freak out sexual tension at the end of the track was what parents had been fretting about since the dawn of rock 'n roll. The ending was a smooth sail down to a feather pillow that a year later would become surrealistic.

This was a typical weekend for sixteen year old kids on Saturday nights. Friday nights were high school dances, trolling for chicks, trying to get from hamburger dates to second base. Saturday nights were monster movies, Joe Pyne circus of nutters and misfits, and glorious XERB radio with The Wolfman presiding over the hard to hear "platters that mattered."

We became aware of the British invasion with Meet The Beatles singing "This Boy" and "I Saw Her Standing There" on Ed Sullivan's "really big show," followed by the Dave Clark Five who instructed us to be "Glad All Over" while our teenage hormones reduced us to "Bits and Pieces." Everything was a tune filled frolic until the Bad Boys of the United Kingdom came upon our collective radar screen. The Rolling Stones were diametrically opposed to the other Brit bands. First off, they didn't wear cute little uniforms. They didn't play music that dripped with sugar. They had edge, they mixed R&B with Soul and a dash of Pop. They jumped and bopped, and sang tunes that had far greater scope in the real world than bands who sang about Mrs. Brown and her lovely daughter (not to put these fun fantasy romps down). The Stones had and still have grit and funk that these acts lacked. They were themselves, and the hell with the world if they weren't liked The Beatles wanted to hold your hand, and the Stones taught you how to hold your girlfriend's glands. In the Sixties when you brought a Beatle LP home, no one raised an eye, but when a Stones album crossed the threshold, your parents would hit the scotch and mother's little helpers. The Rolling Stones music was not about puppy love; their sonic soliloquies were about nervous breakdowns, sad days, west coast promo men, and getting some satisfaction.

In the early 60s London town, the Stones were a popular blues band who above all else were blues purists. They had a following and they could play their asses off, but it was the entrance of a young pop culture Svengali, a self-described teenage tycoon, that allowed them to be translated into mass culture. Enter Andrew Loog Oldham.

Mass culture and popular culture are not always the same animal. Whereas the Stones could boogie their butts off, they stood in the shadow of the four headed monster who were taking the world by storm, the mop tops. It took a personality like Mr. Oldham's to make a difference and exaggerate the differences.

Having done P.R. for the Beatles before becoming the Stones' manager and record producer, Mr. Oldham had a handle on what it would take to put the fab five over the top. He was the man at the summit of London's renaissance into the swinging 60s, and the Stones were his calling card, his trump card, and his downfall.

The old phrase goes, if you remember the 60s you weren't there. Well, that's fodder out of a male cow's butt. In Stoned and 2 Stoned, Mr. Oldham gives us the Technicolor dream and the wide screen nightmares that were the London scene, as his memory and that of an ample supporting cast recalls.

While the world at large was thinking that London was swinging from peace, love, and happiness, the back story was far more interesting, and Mr. Oldham was on the cutting edge as an architect of this much discussed phenomenon. It didn't hurt that his passion for films, rock 'n roll, and fashion had molded him into the impresario that translated the Stones and his other artists into hit makers, not only on both sides of the Atlantic, but throughout the whole world.

Riding the wave of success can be a dangerous business, and as the song says, all things must end someday, and this was true for Andrew Loog Oldham. Being a trail blazer ain't an easy gig. With his own pioneering record label and the Stones meteoric accomplishments, Oldham walked away from the game he helped to create.

These books are written in a crisp style that is reminiscent of the liner notes that adorned the Rolling Stones' classic L.P.s, and it is to Mr. Oldham's credit that he addresses his life and the lives of those surrounding him with a frankness and candor which illustrates the beauty and terror of his journey. While some of this info is yesterday's papers, it also proves that redemption is possible for those who care to embrace it.

Let's face it, hope is beyond reason, and hope in the world is not reasonable, but through Mr. Oldham's example, one can have hope - the hope of conquering against the odds when they're stacked against one. And rightly so. He's the man who gave us the landscape of what's now known as classic rock with "Satisfaction," "Get Off My Cloud," "19th Nervous Breakdown," and "As Tears Go By" (which he co-wrote with the Glimmer Twins).

And, he's given us these two books to shine a light on the past darkly known as the 60s and beyond, and guided us through the agony and the ecstacy by writing the fables of his own personal journey.

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