After covering the Rolling Stones in the 1990s, Rich Cohen worked with Mick Jagger on what became the HBO series Vinyl. In an adaptation from his book on the Stones, he shares a close-up of the band, and the friendship behind it.


In 1994, when I was 26, working as a reporter for Rolling Stone, I went on the road with “The World’s Greatest Rock Band.” For me, it was like falling into the diorama. Just like that, I was on the other side of the glass with Mick, Charlie, Keith, and Ronnie, in the hotel rooms, on the airplane, watching the band play from the wings, even from the stage itself. In one case, Mick Jagger introduced me to Bruce Springsteen as “my good friend.” In another, Keith, sweat-soaked and wheezing as we rushed away from a gig, smiled at me and, quoting Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, said, “Put my robe on right! Put on my robe!”

I watched the Stones rehearse in a middle-school gym. I talked Chicago and jazz with Charlie Watts in a hotel suite. I drank whiskey with Ron Wood and the sax player Bobby Keys when they got word that a friend of theirs, pianist Nicky Hopkins, had died in Nashville. Keys grimaced, then tossed back four fingers of Jack Daniel’s, eyes filled with tears.

The Stones have always held a special place in my life. It started when, at 10 years old, I heard the opening of “Honky Tonk Women” through my brother’s bedroom door, which, like so many things, was closed to me. The cowbell that opens that song was like a muezzin call, ushering me into a new life. The music made me feel grown up and mean and suggested a dangerous world of drugs and booze and all manner of sin I looked forward to trying myself. I’ve been a rock ‘n’ roll monotheist ever since. For me, there’s only been the one band. Late at night, as I was interviewing Richards, and he was a pirate in a high-backed velvet chair, he stopped and looked at me, really looked at me, and asked….(read more)

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The full article by Rich Cohen continues on the Vanity Fair website which can be accessed at the link below.