I got the chance to watch the latest Rolling Stones HBO documentary “Crossfire Hurricane” and what I learned is that it’s impossible to tell the 50 year story of the band in two hours. In fact, the documentary practically wraps up the story in 1978 when Keith Richards is sentenced to only probation for heroin possession in Toronto and vows to forever stay off the stuff. Mick Jagger states you can’t stay young forever. They play the latest songs from their greatest hits album, roll the credits. And they live happily ever after.
This is an authorized biography and based on 80 hours of audio interviews, however Mick tries to be the most candid but also not surprisingly comes off as guarded on his reflections. Bill Wyman best quote is “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” Charlie Watts doesn’t seem to remember anything (nor really cares to) and Keith is retelling stories from his brilliant “Life” book. I still never got a sense of original member Brian Jones nor his replacement Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood is just brushed off as the guy that took the danger out of the band and made them in Mick’s word, “fun”! Essential Rolling Stones sideman Bobby Keys and Ian Stewart get nary a mention.
The best part of the documentary is Dick Cavett apologizing for seeing plates of “things” being passed around backstage in 1972. Mick comes them “salt pills”. Here’s a bit of the interview and one of the best things is Dick asking him if he can imagine himself at age 60 doing this. He answers he most certainly can.
To be honest, I got more information from these NPR interviews of the band talking about their favorite songs.
Keith Richards -Charlie Watts has a briefcase drumset
Charlie Watts - Charlie can’t remember a thing
Ronnie Woods - Ronnie likes going to clubs (surprise!)
Mick Jagger - Micks harmonica solo on “Gimme Shelter” is only two notes
Overall it’s not essential viewing, but it’s worth it to get a reminder of why people still consider them the the greatest rock and roll band in the world