Friday 21 October 2016
Wolfgang's Vault

Under Their Thumb: How A Nice Boy From Brooklyn Got Mixed Up With The Rolling Stones (And Lived To Tell About It)

Author: Bill German

Publisher: Villard

Reviewed: August, 2009


I will start off by saying that “Under Their Thumb” is a must read for two categories of people.  The first, obviously, are the vast legions of Rolling Stone fans.  The second group is those of us who get inspiration from those who pursue their dreams and accomplish them. 

As I stated in my interview with Bill German, he has accomplished what few have and in a Cameron Crowe like way.   His book covers everyday scenarios that involve the Stones.  They take place in hotels, basements, kitchens, living rooms, offices, backstage, on stage, and night clubs.  You name, Bill was there. 

You sense while reading “Thumb” that German felt, and still feels, tremendous respect and awe for the boys in the band – even when they and their massive machinery apparently treated him the exact opposite.  This reflects the kind of stuff people are made of and Bill German is made up of great character and superior upbringing.  I seriously doubt most of us would have put up with what he did, for as long as he did, and still treat these people as kindly as Bill does.  He closes the book by saying that Keith and Ronnie “feel like long lost uncles to me.”

Being a behind-the-scenes/how-the-watch-is-made kind of guy, I was intrigued by the details of the Stones machinery.  Yet, I was disappointed at how it commoditized human beings.  As German says in the book, “They’ve (the Stones) had plenty of people depart on them, and they’ve always just stepped over the bodies.  That’s what makes the Stones the Stones.”

I won’t reveal much about this book because I believe that it’s worth buying and reading so I don’t want to detract in any way from it.  I will say, though, that I believe chapter 40 should be required reading by every human being on the planet.  It speaks volumes about values, priorities, the preciousness of life, and the things that really matter in life.  It’s very sobering and is my favorite part of the whole book.

I started this review by mentioning that the book will be an inspiration.  Bill German’s story is one of passion, tenacity, pureness of heart, and a child-like wonder in his pursuit of a story and of his relationship with the Rolling Stones.  As I stated earlier, it is also a lesson in how strong character will help one persevere and, when it’s all said and done, shows those around you what a class act you really are.  That is the measure of this book and the measure of the man, Bill German.

You can buy “Under Their Thumb” at your favorite bookstore or here at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes and Noble. 

Featured Photo


Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (, is of the statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux, Switzerland!