Here are some random images from the 1980s and '90s. A few will appear in the updated 2022 edition of "Under Their Thumb."
Keith's special stationery
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.)
Limelight, 1984By 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), 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 may know, the Woods' 25-year marriage came to an abrupt end, 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.)
XMAS, 1985In 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.)
Live At FiveWhen 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 this video clip, he told anchorwoman Sue Simmons that I helped him come to terms with his proverbial "second banana" role.
This Week In RockIn 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 this clip, Keith told Kurt Loder: "I know Bill German real well. I mean, how do you think he gets his information?"
Backstage PassHere's my backstage pass to the opening concert of the "Steel Wheels" tour in Philadelphia, August 31, 1989. The "KR" on the pass denoted that I was a guest of Keith's (and that if I ate too much backstage or broke a vase, he'd get the blame). I later got an "All Access" laminate, which was good for the whole tour, and which allowed me to view the tour from every angle, even onstage.
Shea Stadium, 1989Photo of me and Keith backstage at Shea Stadium, October 1989, after I interviewed him for the ABC Radio Network (and right before he took the stage with the Stones). I'm a big baseball fan, so I was pretty excited about conducting our interview inside the New York Mets' laundry room. "This is where Darryl Strawberry washes his jock strap," I informed Keith, but I don't think he cared. You can read more about this day in chapter 27 of "Under Their Thumb" and/or listen to a 3-minute snippet of our interview (by clicking the button below), in which I ask him about "Almost Hear You Sigh" and about bringing his father and his kids on the "Steel Wheels" tour.
Tokyo, 1990Photo of me and Ronnie conducting a press conference at the Isetan Department Store in Tokyo. We're plugging our book, "The Works." (Yes, that store sold EVERYTHING, from refrigerators to life insurance to Ronnie Wood artwork.) This was during the Stones' first-ever concert tour of Japan, which I covered extensively at the time in my 'zine, as well as for various print and radio outlets in America. (I also wrote about it in chapter 29 of "Under Their Thumb.") Click the button below to hear one of my February 1990 reports for the nationally syndicated radio program, "Powercuts."
The Story Behind The Cover
The book's cover photo was taken on June 26, 1980, outside the Danceteria nightclub in New York. It captures the moment that I first met the Stones. Behind Keith -- and his bottle of Jack Daniel's -- I'm introducing myself to Ronnie Wood and handing him an issue of Beggars Banquet. I was 17 years old, and it was two days after my high school graduation.
I knew the Stones were having a party to celebrate their "Emotional Rescue" album, but I wasn't on the guest list. I showed up anyway because I wanted to let the Stones know about the newsletter (which I'd started when I was 16). I approached them as they exited the club, and the encounter would change my life forever.
Years later, I discovered that the moment was caught on film by paparazzo David McGough. (I accidentally stumbled onto the photo while researching his files.) Perfect for the book cover. Not only does it capture the Stones' 1980s accessibility in New York City (which the book is largely about), but the fact that Keith is sticking his thumb out -- as in "Under Their Thumb" -- was a coincidence too good to ignore.
Photos on this page by Bob Gruen, Jo Wood, Vinnie Zuffante.