Like a Rolling Stone

Like a Rolling Stone : The Strange Life of a Tribute Band

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Since the creation of the hit Broadway musical Beatlemania tribute bands have become an indelible part of the musical landscape, playing local bars, biker rallies, banquet halls, town fairs, and, occasionally, even stadiums. In an age when famous rock groups charge $100 or more for a concert ticket, their tribute band imitators offer an accessible, intimate, and surprisingly authentic outlet for fans. The Grateful Dead have Dark Star Orchestra; Led Zeppelin Zoso, Hammer of the Gods, and the all-girl Lez Zeppelin; Van Halen have twenty-five tribute bands, including Hot for Teacher and Van Heineken; and KISS have not one but two tribute bands peopled by dwarves—Mini Kiss and Tiny Kiss. In this droll and entertaining expedition to the heart of tribute world, Steven Kurutz chronicles the ups and downs of one of the oldest and best-established acts, Sticky Fingers, who bill themselves as “the leading international Rolling Stones tribute show.” The narrative follows Sticky Fingers as they shadow the real Rolling Stones 2005–06 tour like a remora trailing a shark. When the Stones perform at an arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sticky Fingers plays a preconcert bash at nearby Dixie’s Tavern. More gigs follow: a trip to Las Vegas, bookings on the southern fraternity circuit, a spectacular sold-out stadium show in the Netherlands. The band’s frontman, Glen Carroll, is a roguish and colorful Mick Jagger look-alike, and we see him onstage and off, navigating the peculiar life of a tribute performer. As Carroll says, “I know what it’s like to walk in Mick’s shoes—with lift supports, mind you.” The band’s guitarist, meanwhile, is so committed to his role as Keith Richards, he’s always in costume. Along the way, the writer travels with the members of Sticky Fingers’ archrivals, the Blushing Brides; profiles a group of Deadheads who re-create entire, highly specific Grateful Dead concerts, and examines an occupational hazard one musician calls “tributitis”: identifying too closely with the rock star one portrays, with resulting swelling of the ego. As the book unfolds, what emerges is an honest and sympathetic portrait of the musicians as they juggle work and band obligations and come to terms with middle age and their fading dreams of rock stardom. Like a Rolling Stone is a superbly reported, affectionately told, hilarious account of life at the lower altitudes of the music industry. In its own sly way, it is also a critique of the Rolling Stones’ stadium juggernaut and the baby boomer nostalgia pervading modern culture. Above all, it is a testament to the timeless appeal of rock and roll, even in a culture of perpetual more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0767925858
  • 9780767925853

About Steven Kurutz

Steven Kurutz was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania and graduated from Pennsylvania State University. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, where for three years he was a writer for the paper’s City section. His articles have also appeared in Details, W, Playboy, and Spin, among other publications. He lives in New York City. This is his first more

Review quote

Advance Praise for Like a Rolling Stone “With the shrewd eye of an anthropologist and the enthusiasm of a fan, Steve Kurutz chronicles the rivalries, absurdities, and occasional ecstasies of bands who engage in the sincerest form of flattery. Like a Rolling Stone shines a generous and affectionate light into one of the murkier corners of rock and roll.” —Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Wishbones “As far as describing the history and current status of the classic-going-on-ancient rock and roll tribute world, Steven Kurutz makes Herodotus look like a slacker. But what’s most exciting is his portrait of the tribute world itself. It’s fascinatingly wild and competitive and more than a little insane, and Kurutz eventually makes it seem a lot like the non-tribute world, where we are all trying to show up on time and remember the words, trying to be a little like somebody, and, frankly, hoping to continue to rock and roll or maybe just roll.” —Robert Sullivan, author of The Meadowlands and Cross Countryshow more