Let It Read! The Ultimate Literary Guide to the Rolling Stones

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stone’s first concert, we picked out the best 14 books on the legendary band. From Keith Richard’s bestselling Life to Dominique Tarlé’s rare edition photos from the Exile on Main St. sessions, every book worth reading on the Stones.

Illustration by The Daily Beast


* (Start Me Up) – Books for new readers looking to get a handle on the Stones body of work and history.** (Let’s Spend The Night Together) – Books for fans looking to get more intimate with their favorite Stones and revisit some of their wilder moments.*** (Satisfaction) – Books for thirsty veteran Stone fiends; recommended for Stones freaks. WARNING: these books may induce drug flashbacks.


Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of JaggerBy Christopher Andersen*A thin boy with big lips from London did not conquer the world by luck; his energy, originality, and unmatched ability to crank out unforgettable performances on a nightly basis earned him every single fan he has today. Start from the beginning of the Stones story with this new biography on the life of Rolling Stones front man, the one and only, Mick Jagger.

LifeBy Keith Richards and James Fox*Keith Richards reigns as one of rock’s most talented guitarists and wildest drug addicts. But how did he balance keeping his obligations to The Rolling Stones and feeding his dangerous addictions? The first step: stop sleeping. Get the whole story straight from the source in Life.

The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock ‘n’ RollBy Editors of LIFE*In this new large hardcover, the editors of LIFE chronicle the rise of The Rolling Stones alongside breathtaking photographs of the action. The book’s great triumph lies in its inclusion of the lesser-known members of the Stones inner-circle: Ian Stewart, Andrew Loog Oldham, and Brian Jones are featured in detail, showcasing their importance in sculpting the image and sound of the band. A must-read for anyone looking to learn the “who is who” of the Stones clan.

* *

S.t.p.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling StonesBy Robert Greenfield**Emerging from the depths of Villa Nelcôte in France with their first double-album, Exile on Main St., the band took their new album on tour in the United States. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll are guaranteed as Robert Greenfield takes you behind closed doors into the heart of the “Stones Touring Party,” 1972.

The True Adventures of the Rolling StonesBy Stanley Booth**Stanley Booth chronicles his experience as a member of the Stones touring family that unleashed itself upon America in 1969, following the release of Let It Bleed. Booth’s exquisite recounting of how the Altamont Free Concert, a show that had been dubbed “Woodstock West,” descended into madness and violence stands out as the book’s great contribution to Stones literature. Best when coupled with Ethan A. Russell’s Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties—a photographic bonanza from the ’69 tour.

Rolling StonedBy Andrew Loog Oldham**The only man whose legacy rivals that of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Rolling Stones band manager Andrew Loog Oldham details his shaping of the Stones “badboy-rebel” image in the 1960s and his secrets to their enormous success in his book, Rolling Stoned. Check it out for juicy Stones stories you haven’t yet heard.

Every Night’s a Saturday Night: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby KeysBy Bobby Keys and Bill Ditenhafer**Saxophonist Bobby Keys has been touring with the Stones since the ‘70s and has been one of Keith Richards’s best friends ever since. Wherever Bobby Keys goes, madness and hilarity are certain to follow. Maybe that’s why Keith has kept him around for so long.

Charlie Watts By Alan Clayson**Affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Wang Dang Doodle” by Mick Jagger, drummer Charlie Watts has kept the Stones on time without fail since their earliest days in London nightclubs. Originally trained as a jazz drummer (go watch some footage of him, you’ll see how he holds his sticks with different grips), Watts’s own achievements as a rock musician rival those of his better-known band mates. Check out Charlie Watts by Alan Clayson for the full story.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

Sway By Zachary Lazar**In Sway, Zachary Lazar weaves the story of the Keith Richards-Anita Pallenberg-Brian Jones love triangle into a novel that illuminates the darkness lurking behind the bright colors of the 1960s.

Paul is UndeadBy Alan Goldsher**Only zombie-hunter Mick Jagger can save the world from The Beatles, four zombie musicians who feed on destruction and mayhem. Lose your mind with Alan Goldsher’s hysterical and absurd reimagining of the 1960s in Paul is Undead.

* * *

The Rolling Stones: 50By The Rolling Stones (Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood)***Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood were kind enough to put together this awesome book of previously unreleased material and photography so we can celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones with them… from our reading chairs. The perfect gift for diehard Stones fans. Out already in the UK it’s scheduled for release in the United States on October 30th, 2012.

What Would Keith Richards Do?: Daily Affirmations from a Rock and Roll SurvivorBy Jessica Pallington West***There’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news: you might be cool, but you’re just not Keith Richards-cool. The good news: you can be! Just read Jessica Pallington West’s What Would Keith Richards Do? from cover-to-cover and you’ll be the stuff of legend in no time.

Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to StudioBy Andy Babuik and Greg Prevost***A dear friend of mine once told me: “tools are the silent witnesses to mankind’s accomplishments.” But these tools are anything but silent; they’re shreddin’. Grab Rolling Stones Gear for a comprehensive guide to the instruments that made The Rolling Stones possible.

ExileBy Dominique Tarlé***You won’t find this collectable easily, but if you manage to track down a copy of Dominique Tarlé’s Exile, you’ll be treated to a magnificent compilation of high-end photography from the Exile on Main St. sessions in the south of France. A family treasure, at the least.