I was on the phone with Keith one day in 1983, and he invited me to a Stones party at Tavern On The Green. He told me to come to his hotel room and pick up the invitation. I rushed to the Plaza Hotel, where his assistant handed me a manila envelope. Inside was a note from Keith, scrawled on the torn-off cover of the current Playgirl magazine. Alongside the cover boy's face -- who happened to be Mick -- Keith wrote, "Dear Bill, see you there. If not, call me." (Full story in Chapter 5 of "Under Their Thumb.")
I met up with Keith at another party in 1983, and showed him the latest issue of Beggars Banquet. (Six months later, when I was 20 years old, Keith and Mick would get the Stones' lawyers to declare Beggars Banquet the band's official newsletter.) This was an after-party for the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" film premiere, at a disco called Corso, on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Later that night, I hooked up with Keith again at Studio 54. Leave it to the Stones to have an after-party for the after-party. (You can read more about this night in Chapter 6 of the book.)
By 1984, I was hanging out at Ronnie and Jo Wood's house on 78th Street and hooking up with them at their favorite nightclub, the Limelight (which is where this photo was taken). At the Woods' house, every night was party night. I got to meet some famous folks there, like Andy Warhol and Michael J. Fox, but also came across some pretty shady characters. I was 21 years old and had never done coke (still haven't, as of 2012), so when the white stuff got passed around, I'd just say no. (Chapter 9 of the book is all about the Woods and their "interesting" houseguests.) As you know, the Woods' 25-year marriage came to an end recently, following his affair with a teenage cocktail waitress. All I know is, Ronnie and Jo were a great couple, gracious hosts, and he wouldn't be alive today if it were not for Jo's constant support.
I was 22 years old in the summer of 1985, when the Stones were conducting their "Dirty Work" sessions in New York. Keith and Ronnie told me I could stop by the studio whenever I wanted -- as long as Mick wasn't there. (This was the height of the Mick-versus-Keith feud.) As a result, there were times I wouldn't get to the studio until 4 AM, waiting for Mick to leave. One morning, as shown in this photo, I brought Keith and Ronnie the latest issue of Beggars Banquet to read. (The Mick-versus-Keith feud, as well as the "Dirty Work" sessions, are discussed in Chapter 10.)
In 1985, Ronnie created a special Christmas card for my readers. As I watched him work on it in his dining room, he asked me to co-author his upcoming book, "The Works." I had just turned 23 years old and it was a dream come true for me. But my balloon was burst the very next day when we received news that Ian Stewart -- known as the "Sixth Stone" -- had died of a heart attack. Weeks later, the Stones paid tribute to "Stu" by staging a private concert in London, which I attended. Only 200 invited guests were present, and some of them, like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Pete Townshend, got onstage to jam with the Stones. (Full details of the concert, plus photo, appear in Chapter 12.)
When our book, "The Works," came out in 1987, Woody plugged it on the popular "Live at Five" news program in New York. As you can see in the above video clip, he told anchorwoman Sue Simmons that I helped him come to terms with his proverbial "second banana" role.
In 1989, just prior to the Stones' "Steel Wheels" tour, MTV profiled Beggars Banquet on their "Week In Rock" program and got quotes from the Stones. As you can see in the above clip, Keith told Kurt Loder: "I know Bill German real well. I mean, how do you think he gets his information?"
Photos on this page by Bob Gruen, Jo Wood, Vinnie Zuffante.