Up and Down with the Rolling Stones: My Rollercoaster Ride with Keith Richards by Tony Sanchez, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Up and Down with the Rolling Stones: My Rollercoaster Ride with Keith Richards

Up and Down with the Rolling Stones: My Rollercoaster Ride with Keith Richards

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by Tony Sanchez

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Legendary among fans since its 1979 release, originally titled I Was Keith Richards' Drug Dealer, this is the absolutely over-the-top, outrageous account of the Stones at their debauched peak
Tony Sanchez worked for Keith Richards for eight years buying drugs, running errands, and orchestrating cheap thrills. In this


Legendary among fans since its 1979 release, originally titled I Was Keith Richards' Drug Dealer, this is the absolutely over-the-top, outrageous account of the Stones at their debauched peak
Tony Sanchez worked for Keith Richards for eight years buying drugs, running errands, and orchestrating cheap thrills. In this notorious chronicle of that time, he records unforgettable accounts of the Stones' perilous misadventures racing cars along the Cote d'Azur, murder at Altamont, nights with the Beatles at the Stones-owned nightclub Vesuvio, frantic flights to Switzerland for blood changes, and the steady stream of women, including Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithfull, and Bianca Jagger. Here are the Stones at their debauched peak cavorting around the world, smashing Bentleys, working black magic, getting raided, snorting coke, and mainlining heroin. Sanchez spares not even himself in these accounts, told with hard-hitting prose and featuring candid photographs.

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"It is hard to decide whether the Stones' lifestyle, or Sanchez' account, is more unbelievable."  —Kirkus Reviews

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John Blake Publishing, Limited
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4.40(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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Up and Down with the Rolling Stones

My Rollercoaster Ride with Keith Richards

By Tony Sanchez

John Blake Publishing Ltd

Copyright © 2010 Tony Sanchez
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-85782-691-3


I was still just a little in awe of the Rolling Stones in the mid-sixties. The Beatles were richer and sold more records. But they had compromised their integrity with neat hair and command performances. In London the Stones were the new potentates. Their hairstyles, their attitudes, their clothes were aped by every young man with aspirations to style – from elegant, leisured aristocrats to schoolboys barely out of short trousers. It is hard to remember now just how vast, if transient, an influence they were. No other musicians in history had wielded such power for social revolution.

At the centre of it was Brian Jones. He was the musically gifted Stone, the one who could pick up any instrument – from a saxophone to a sitar – and learn to play it in less than half an hour. The one who was playing pure, soaring rhythm and blues for a living when Mick Jagger was a mediocre student at the London School of Economics and Keith Richard was just another grubby, delinquent art student who thought he was Chuck Berry because he could pluck three chords on his out-of-tune guitar.

Brian epitomized the arrogantly hedonistic attitude that was the mainstay of the Rolling Stones' special appeal. He had left six illegitimate children – all boys and all by different girls – in his wake. He was the one who grew his hair longest. He was the first to wear outrageously androgynous clothes – chiffon blouses and Ascot hats with make-up – and yet carry such an aura of street guerrilla aggressiveness that no one would dare suggest to his face that he looked anything less than totally masculine. Where Brian led the other Stones limped along behind.

Lately things had changed. The word among those who worked with the Stones was that Mick and Keith were inadvertently grinding Brian down, breaking him, destroying him. Egocentric, obsessed with becoming stars themselves, they couldn't forgive Brian Jones for having bent them to his will musically and visually in their early days. Such rumours are common in the tough, bitchy world of rock music, and I hadn't taken them seriously – until now.

I was sipping a scotch on the rocks in a dark London nightclub called the Speakeasy, waiting for my girl friend, a nightclub dancer, to show up. It was two in the morning, and the club was crowded with the young and beautiful men and women who had turned London, momentarily, into the hip capital of the Western world. "Swinging London" may be a dusty cliché now. But then it was a reality we all were working hard to perpetuate.

At clubs like the Speakeasy everyone tries to appear supercool but spends most of the evening looking around for famous faces. You can tell when a star arrives because everyone – even the dancers – starts gaping. When it happened this time, I glanced up, and there, lurching towards me, was Brian Jones.

This wasn't the Brian I knew from twelve months before. Then his golden hair had glowed like the sun, and he had been tanned and lithe and beautiful. Now his hair hung lank and greasy around his deathly pale face, his eyes were bloodshot and the shadows across his face were those of a man who hadn't slept for a long time. "Hi, Tony – how's it going, man?" He smiled, and I ordered him a scotch and felt flattered that the lead guitarist with the Rolling Stones had not only remembered my name but had singled me out among all the other people he knew in a fashionable club like the Speakeasy.

We talked for a while about records and new films; then he casually dropped the question I'd been expecting: "Any drugs about, Tony?" I'm not a pusher, but as a boy I'd worked in Soho, first as a nightclub bouncer, then as a croupier, so I knew exactly where to go for anything from a bag of grass to a Thompson submachine gun. Consequently people in the rock world had come to use me as a reluctant go-between in their flirtations with the London underworld. Though I was frightened that my role might lead to big trouble, I was young enough and star struck enough to figure that the risks were worth taking if they were the price I had to pay for friendship with people like Brian Jones.

"What are you looking for?", I asked Brian, though what I really longed to do was change the subject.

He clutched my arm and almost shouted, "Anything, get me anything. I don't care what it fucking well is, just get me something."

I remember his lost, sad eyes. Brian Jones, the most famous, outrageous, flamboyant superstar of them all was now pathetic. I pulled my arm away and walked over to a black guy I knew who sometimes pushed drugs for a little pocket money.

"What do you want?", he whispered. "I've got anything you want, man: coke, acid, smoke."

"Hang on." I went back to Brian to see which goodies took his fancy.

Brian didn't even think for half a second. "Get me everything, Tony," he urged, "the whole thing. I don't care what it costs."

The price was £250. I promised the black guy the money would be in his hands the next day, and since he knew and trusted me, he handed the whole stash over in a small brown paper bag. By the time I got back to our table in the middle of the room, next to the dance floor, Brian was behaving so strangely that I was frightened he would gobble the drugs right in front of everyone. Before I handed over the bag, I warned him that he would have to go to the toilet if he were going to use anything at all while he was at the Speakeasy.

Before I could finish what I was saying, he snatched the bag, like a kid grabbing a lollipop, and sprinted off to the loo. When he returned, he appeared relaxed, and he was smiling as he handed me the bag and asked me to look after it in case he was searched by the police. I had started to use a certain amount of cocaine and when Brian invited me to help myself to whatever I wanted from his bag of tricks, I accepted gratefully. I could hardly believe my eyes when I locked myself into the toilet and opened the bag. Not only had Brian taken an entire bottle of coke, but he had also apparently swallowed a whole handful of mixed uppers and downers. I returned to the table, steeling myself to find Brian unconscious on the dance floor, but instead, he was smiling and joking with a girl friend while he sipped his fifth scotch of the evening.

We stayed for another hour, and even after a couple more scotches, Brian seemed to be only mildly stoned. It took me some weeks before I realised that Brian was like the variety of alcoholic who walks around in a permanent twilight world – never really drunk, but never really sober either.

I drove him back to his flat in Courtfield Road, Earls Court, in my white Alfa Romeo. It was a warm night with a huge full moon, so we drove fast, very fast, with the top down. Brian seemed to enjoy the speed and the feel of the wind blowing his hair into his eyes because I could hear him mumbling to himself, "Go baby, go – faster, baby, faster."

He invited me into the second storey flat in the big red brick building for a 'smoke' – Brian's name for a joint – and I accepted. As he fumbled with his door key, I asked conversationally, "What's all this I hear about Anita going off with Keith, man?"

It was common knowledge that Anita Pallenberg, whom I knew fairly well, had left Brian for Keith Richard. Brian jerked back as if he'd been knifed. "Don't ever mention that chick's name to me again," he said. But his words couldn't hide the pain that was eating him up inside, destroying him. When Keith lured Anita away, he had pulled out the last prop that was holding Brian up and had condemned him to a life where the only reality Brian wanted was oblivion.

This became even more obvious when we walked into the flat to be greeted by Nikki and Tina, two beautiful lesbian girls who had been living with Brian for some weeks. Brian made it perfectly clear that the three of them all shared his outsize bed. It was almost equally obvious that they all loathed one another.

As I rolled a joint from Brian's paper bag, he dipped in and scooped out a scrap of blotting paper that had been impregnated with LSD. After all the booze and the cocaine and the uppers and downers he had taken I was worried about the effect this was going to have on him, but he seemed to know what he was doing, so I kept my mouth shut.

Amazingly Brian still seemed reasonably compos mentis, though by that time I wasn't exactly stone-cold sober myself, so I wasn't really fit to pass judgment. He suddenly got it into his head that he was going to play some tape recordings of music he'd written. His mind must have been turning somersaults inside his skull. As he tried to put the tape on the player, it spiralled everywhere, and the harder Brian tried to sort out the mess, the worse it got. Eventually he was sitting on the floor, crying, with hundreds of feet of tape tangled all around him. Then, until I managed to stop him, he started hacking at the tape – which represented weeks of work – with scissors. Once he cut off a couple of yards so that I could listen to a meaningless chunk of something which sounded as though it might just have been a really good song. Whether it was or not, no one will ever know.

Then he started trying to tie the tape together in knots because, in his confusion, he believed that was the only way it could be repaired. Later he started playing a chunk of the tape backward, and he kept repeating, "Terrific, terrific, terrific." I had tried acid myself, and I understood: it made everything sound great.

As the night wore on, Brian's condition worsened. Every twenty minutes he would roll another huge joint or swallow a few more pills and pass out on the floor. Once he peered at me maliciously and snarled, "I'm going to kill you, Mick," but then he realized it was me and said, "I'm sorry, Tony. It is Tony, isn't it?"

And all the time the two girls puffed on the joints, completely unperturbed. "He's always like this," was all they said, giggling, when I asked them if we should lock him in the bedroom.

Then Brian started crying, sitting there with his head in his hands like a wounded animal. To see this stunningly handsome and talented man, who was envied and worshipped by millions of people, so eaten up by a grief deep inside hurt me more than anything I had ever seen....

The sun was shining through the windows as I blinked and rubbed myself and wondered where on earth I was. My leg had turned numb, my neck was stiff and my head felt as though a football team had been using it for practice. Brian lay with his head pillowed on the tape recorder. The two girls – who appeared considerably less exotic in the harsh morning light – were cradled in each other's arms on one of Brian's priceless Persian rugs.

I fumbled around in the kitchen and managed somehow to make four cups of strong black coffee to wake everyone up.

We sipped it slowly; then Brian crushed a little cocaine on a small scrap of glass, and we snorted through a rolled bill. I know most people swear by bacon and eggs, but there are an awful lot of rock people who would find it hard to start the day without the adrenalin – provoking, rocket fuel burst of a quick snort of coke.

Once the cocaine was bubbling through his system Brian felt as happy as a little boy on the first day of a summer holiday. He informed us that he was taking us out for a real breakfast at the Antique Market in Kings Road, Chelsea. We piled into his car, a flawless metallic silver Rolls Royce Silver Cloud with black windows, and we were off with a lurch – Brian and I in the front and the girls in the back.

I suspected from the start that Brian wasn't really in any condition to walk, let alone drive a Rolls, and within three hundred yards my fear was justified. Brian swerved around a corner on to Fulham Road and straight into the back of a parked car. As he fumbled for reverse gear, it was obvious he planned to beat it. The impact had made a tremendous noise however, and I was sure that a number of people had seen what had happened. I quickly jumped out and scrawled an apologetic note which I tucked under the windscreen wiper of the damaged car.

"What the hell did you do that for?" I asked when I had climbed back into the Rolls.

"It was in my way," was all he would reply.

I tried to persuade him to let me drive us the rest of the way to Kings Road, but he was insistent that he was perfectly able to handle the car. We zigzagged our way in the direction of Chelsea like a pack of Keystone Cops.

Again and again during the journey I was forced to put my foot across to Brian's side and stamp on the brake to prevent another crash. And all the way people were staring at us – a bunch of rock stars going bananas in a runaway Rolls. Astonishingly we managed to arrive at the Antique Market without hitting anything else, but there were a lot of cars parked outside, so I suggested he go into the market with the girls while I parked for him.

"What do you think I am," he exploded, "an imbecile or an idiot or something? I can park my own car, thank you very much."

So, with a twist of the steering wheel, he turned the big car across to the other side of the road, straight across the pavement and into a brick wall. The whole crash seemed as though it was happening in slow motion or in a scene from a film. There was absolutely no possible excuse or explanation Brian could have offered if the police had suddenly arrived on the scene.

The next thing I knew Brian was climbing out of the Rolls with the girls, smiling broadly and calmly asking me to park the car. So I climbed into the driver's seat as dozens of people stared at this huge black windowed Rolls which had been driven into a brick wall for no apparent reason. But I managed to back up and park around the corner, and that was the end of that little incident. From that day on I have been a huge Rolls fan, because although the wall was completely demolished, the car got only a slightly dented grille.

After we had our coffee and croissants, Brian asked me to drive him and the girls around Chelsea for the rest of the day. He got a kick out of lowering the back window a fraction and peeping out so that a few fans would recognise him and rush toward the car for autographs. When he tired of this game, we smoked a few joints, and then Brian persuaded the girls to kiss each another passionately. The next thing I knew he was making love to one of them on the back seat while I was sitting in a traffic jam in Kings Road, trying to pretend I didn't know what was going on.

Brian was earning a legendary reputation as a lover, and as I grew to know him intimately, I realised that to a certain extent it was deserved. When he wasn't too badly drugged, he thought little of making love to two or even three different girls in the space of a single night. But the other thing I realised was that sex had nothing whatsoever to do with love for Brian. He used sex as a weapon to degrade and humiliate the women who were drawn to him. Sometimes he would satisfy himself with mere verbal sadism, like denigrating to me a particular woman's performance in bed in a voice so loud that it was impossible for her to avoid hearing.

On other occasions his cruelty was manifested in even more dangerous ways. He seemed to gain enormous pleasure from beating women. Again and again I would see girls at the flat with black eyes and puffy lips. But no one ever went to the police or caused trouble, and many of the girls came back for more. I surmised that though they might not have actually enjoyed being slapped around, they were prepared to tolerate it if it was the price they had to pay for sharing a Rolling Stone's bed.

But hurting women didn't seem to be something Brian did simply to give himself physical pleasure. It was as though he had a terrible, searing pain somewhere deep inside and the only way he could get momentary relief was to pass that pain on to somebody else.


Excerpted from Up and Down with the Rolling Stones by Tony Sanchez. Copyright © 2010 Tony Sanchez. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Up and Down with the Rolling Stones: My Rollercoaster Ride with Keith Richards 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DM_Bolter More than 1 year ago
One of the only books Keith confesses is true. Wonder if that includes the 'blood transfusion' stories.. Parts on Brian Jones is revealing and very in-depth.