Stanley Booth

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Stanley Booth is a fine, if not extremely prolific, writer who generally speaking specializes in portraits of roots musicians, most of whom did their best work in the '60s and '50s. In this respect he's…
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Stanley Booth is a fine, if not extremely prolific, writer who generally speaking specializes in portraits of roots musicians, most of whom did their best work in the '60s and '50s. In this respect he's similar to a somewhat more prolific peer, Peter Guralnick. Booth is different than Guralnick, though, in his slightly wider and more modern focus, and also in his less objective accounts of his musicians. Hanging out on the peripheries of the rock and soul lifestyle has provided both musical and extramusical material for his writing, never more so than in his best book, The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones. He also often draws upon the music of Memphis and the American South.

Booth graduated from Memphis State University in 1963, then went to graduate school at, but not graduating from, Tulane University. He was working for the Tennessee State Welfare Department in 1966 when he began to think about writing professionally, proposing an article on the Rolling Stones to Playboy, in addition to offering to write for them about cars, airplanes and sound equipment. Playboy did not take him up on the Stones piece, but he did begin writing about music for periodicals, including a story on Otis Redding that included first-hand observations of some of his final work in the studio. He met the Rolling Stones in 1968, and after enduring a lot of runarounds, obtained their cooperation for a book about them. As part of his research he traveled with them for some of their 1969 tour of the U.S., including their concert at Altamont, which he observed from the stage. In the resulting book, Booth does not go into detail on the reasons why it did not appear until the mid '80s, inferring that considerable personal problems and calamities played a part. At any rate, when it did appear, it was justly received as one of the best, and possibly the best, book about the Rolling Stones -- who, for all their fame, have not been the subject of many first-class biographies. In The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones, - Booth alternated the text between a more or less chronological history of the band, and behind-the-scenes accounts of the Stones' 1969 tour, including of course a detailed rundown on Altamont. The history part was imperfect (though still very valuable), but the 1969 tour chapters, in particular, captured the character of the band as well as anything that's been written about them. Mick Jagger himself recommended the book as the one to read when Rolling Stone asked him about books on the Stones. Since then, Booth has remained active, though not extremely so, as an author of both books and magazine pieces.Rythm Oil is an anthology of his profiles, including stories on Otis Redding, James Brown, Al Green, Janis Joplin, B.B. King, and Furry Lewis. He also wrote a biography of Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards.