cover image Nankering with the Rolling Stones: The Untold Story of the Early Days

Nankering with the Rolling Stones: The Untold Story of the Early Days

James Phelge. Chicago Review Press, $16.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-1-55652-373-1

In 1963, an unknown band called the Rollin' Stones was burning slow circles around London's graying greasers with American R&B covers. Before breaking into Chuck Berry's ""Sweet Little Sixteen"" one night, vocalist Mick Jagger announced that he and guitarists Brian Jones and Keith Richards were looking for a roommate. Phelge, then a fading beatnik looking for a new scene, fit the bill and lived with the band for a year in a four-pound-a-week flat in Chelsea. Mostly a series of snickering anecdotes, this ""untold story"" is far from definitive or shocking. When four piss-poor 20-somethings share a roof, they are likely to urinate in the neighbor's beer bottles, gob on the walls, stay up all night, have sex with minors and develop their own dialect. ""Nankering"" was their term for the funny voices they used to parody British working-class stiffs. And nanker they did until the Stones' success made a failure of their somewhat superficial, jocular friendship with the author. Giving sound reports after gigs, hanging out backstage and drinking with Jones or Richards made up the most of their relationship, but Phelge does not seem bitter about the end of the camaraderie. Instead, he concentrates on showing that the Stones were and still are true to their anti-establishment ideals. Die-hard fans will enjoy the way Phelge uses his quiet, watchful perspective to comment on the dynamics of the band and especially on Jones's isolation. 10 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)