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‘My Life as a Rolling Stone’ review: The Rolling Stones take a stadium spotlight in a nostalgic BBC and Epix documentary series

By on August 6, 2022 0
Narrated by Sienna Miller, the docuseries – shown on the BBC in the UK and pay-TV channel Epix in the US – interviews Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on camera, while leaving the musicians, managers and others a glimpse of the group as a voiceover, keeping the focus on the Stones.

Beautifully written, the first part (devoted to Jagger, of course) describes the group as “a hyphen between the counterculture of the 1960s and the modern commercial world”.

There are biographical records focusing on their musical influences, such as how Jagger – the undisputed leader and ‘brand manager’, as one observer put it – essentially studied Little Richard as he learned to command a stage . This included creating the rock stadium experience, as Jon Bon Jovi notes, calling his first exposure to these early shows “breathtaking”.

Jagger insists he was actually naive about the impact of his androgynous look (“I didn’t even know I was androgynous”), while Richards credits the Beatles and their growing popularity in the 60s the creation of the Stones.

“Without the Beatles, the Stones would never have existed,” he says.

Always colorful, Richards’ hour details his reputation as a “provocative hedonist” and drug addict, but also a trailblazer who helped shape the band’s sound and image – “The Model”, as Slash of Guns puts it. ‘N Roses, “that all of us rebellious rock guitarists follow.”

Wood, meanwhile, is touted as the glue that held the Stones together after replacing Mick Taylor in the mid-1970s, putting his ego aside to tend to his higher-maintenance partners. The latest episode pays tribute to the late drummer Charlie Watts, who died in 2021. “The best drummer England has ever produced,” says Richards.

Executive producer Steve Condie and the four directors don’t gloss over the controversies and excesses associated with the Stones, but the focus is clearly on celebrating their artistry as well as their longevity as still-in-vogue septuagenarians.

Those decades in the spotlight and the many images associated with them pay dividends for the filmmakers, if not always the members themselves, who admit that the relentless attention is something of a double-edged sword.

“Some people can handle it, and some people can’t,” Jagger says, referring to the pressures that come with being famous. “It’s a bit of a deal with the devil.”

“My Life As a Rolling Stone” elicits a degree of sympathy for these demons, but more importantly, a sense of decades-long appreciation for a level of rock magic that, with apologies for the song, doesn’t need to be presented.

“My Life As a Rolling Stone” premieres August 7 on Epix.