thu 24/07/2014

Stone Free: Andrew Loog Oldham | New music reviews, news & interviews

Stone Free: Andrew Loog Oldham

An interview with the former manager of The Rolling Stones plus an exclusive extract from his new book

Andrew Loog Oldham: 'I was not big on learning'

The return of The Rolling Stones to the world stage is headline news, but the man who put them there in the first place has decided to reveal the tricks of being an impresario, the hustler that can make or break a band. In this poignant, exclusive extract from Stone Free, their former manager Andrew Loog Oldham contemplates Phil Spector, one of his inspirations with whom he was reunited in the wake of the death of Lana Clarkson, the woman Spector was convicted of murdering in 2009.

Stone Free is Oldham’s third book, following Stoned and 2Stoned. Unlike its predecessors, it isn’t an oral history-driven autobiography, but an evocative examination of his path through life with individual chapters on the larger-than-life characters that have influenced him, and the milestones which have cropped up: managers Larry Parnes, Albert Grossman, Allen Klein, Phil Spector, Brian Epstein, Malcolm McLaren and Don Arden; Oldham’s label Immediate Records; Mick Jagger. It’s also about what Oldham learnt.

Andrew Loog Oldham Stone FreeStone Free has a binding with the past to move it forward,” explains Oldham. “I was not big on learning as a result of my school experiences. I wanted to be around whatever energy, either that was attracting me and pulling me towards it. The "it" was entertainment. I probably started to make an effort to actually learn when I started my books in '97, so that I could apply what I learnt to the books. It seemed a sensible way of removing luggage and making the load lighter. When somebody had something I wanted, I made sure I sat still and became interested as opposed to interesting”.

Integral to Stone Free is the hustle, a word that often has a pejorative ring, and one that has been degraded by the times. As to whether it can be rescued? “Who knows?” says Oldham. “Most of the letters I got on Stoned were from younger people who were curious about the game and found the book, yes I dare say it, somewhat inspiring. Apart from that I think the subject matter might be edutaining. Without Moby Dick, Captain Ahab was not that interesting or much for Melville to write about, was he? I’m trying to provide the blubber”.

Asked if the return of the Stones this year relates in any way to his experiences with them, Oldham retorts “not much. I saw them in 2003 in Twickenham. there were lots of people my age standing on their chairs for a better view. We'll see if they make it to this round. I think that this audience is from 1969 [by which time Oldham had ceased being their manager] on, and I have no idea why I think that. There would more likely be people my age backstage”.

Nonetheless, Oldham and the Stones and will always have their pasts as well as their present to draw on. Both of which came into sharp focus when Oldham encountered Phil Spector, in the extract from Stone Free which begins on the next page.

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