Sunday, June 11, 2023

Book Review: Parachute Women

The Rolling Stones have long been considered one of the greatest rock-and-roll bands of all time. At the forefront of the British Invasion and heading up the counterculture movement of the 1960s, the Stones' innovative music and iconic performances defined a generation, and fifty years later, they're still performing to sold-out stadiums around the globe. Yet, as the saying goes, behind every great man is a greater woman, and behind these larger-than-life rockstars were four incredible women whose stories have yet to be fully unpacked . . . until now.

In Parachute Women, Elizabeth Winder introduces us to the four women who inspired, styled, wrote for, remixed, and ultimately helped create the legend of the Rolling Stones.

Parachute Women will be released on July 11, 2023. Hachette Books provided an early galley for review.

The Rolling Stones are one of my older brother's top three bands (up there with the Who and the Clash). So, growing up, I heard plenty of their music even though I knew less about their lives outside of the public pages.

The book focuses specifically on Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithfull, Marsha Hunt and Bianca Jagger. It goes into great detail how the actions of these women influenced and shaped several of the members of the band. They introduced them to drugs, art and literature, fashion, the occult and more.

The first two thirds of the book focuses mostly on Anita and Marianne, two of the biggest influences. In fact, Anita is very much in the center of all the action, having been involved in various intimate capacities with three of the band members (Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger) over the course of a decade and a half. Anita often used sex to get what she wanted and moved on once she got what she desired. Marianne comes across as the one most used and abused. Marsha, of whom I knew the least and who is more the transitional "affair" for Mick, kept strong to her own ideals and goals. Sadly, she was done wrong and only left with a daughter who was unsupported by Mick. Bianca's story is then touched upon; she too used and discarded but clearly the one who ended up the least scarred from the experiences.

By the author's own notes, clearly Winder was most fascinated by Anita's tale and, to a lesser extent, the connections she and Marianne had. To me, it almost feels like Marsha's and Bianca's additions are here to fill out the pages and to cover the narrative until Anita finally called it quits with Keith. The last few chapters quickly tick off the years of the 70's where the earlier chapters are much richer and descriptive.

Despite all that, I did pick up more details than I had known previously. Thus, the book did achieve in enlightening me as a reader.

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