Fifty years of Exile on Main Street

CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD remembers a basement-born, band-defining album According to most accounts of the genesis of the Rolling Stones’ iconic album Exile on Main Street, there was a richly symbolic moment early in the recording process. One of the group’s satellite members, in most versions the pianist Nicky Hopkins, reported for duty in the Stygian bunker-studio…

Charlie Watts, 1941-2021 – the solidest Stone

Credit: Terry Murden/Shutterstock CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD salutes the most grounded member of the Rolling Stones There can be few terms in the English language more debased than ‘rock star’. Nowadays, it seems, the press makes a fetish of every halfway plausible such chancer to appear over the horizon, regardless of whether their art will endure, or…

Spirits of the Jazz Age – the Spiritualist craze of the Twenties

CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD evokes an age of desperate belief On 7 September 1919, the 60-year-old Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GP, lecturer, seafarer, sportsman, indefatigable social campaigner – and globally-renowned author of the Sherlock Holmes tales – shared the platform of a Spiritualist rally at the seafront Grand Hotel in Portsmouth with a 38-year-old medium named Evan…

50 years of Sticky Fingers

CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD recalls the shambolic genesis of the Stones’ masterpiece At about eleven on the Monday morning of 9 March 1970, a somewhat distressed-looking olive green, midsized BMC lorry of the kind typically used to haul heavy goods around the country, crunched up the gravel driveway of a sprawling manor house located just outside the…

Moby Grape – the greatest rock-and-roll combo you’ve never heard of

CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD recalls a brilliant, betrayed band All rock musicians carry a strong potential for disaster. On top of their youth and volatility, already a toxic combination, they swim in the notoriously shark-infested waters of showbusiness. Add the proximity of mind-warping drugs, uncomplicated sex and other inducements, and, notwithstanding the example of a few carefully…