One of my fondest memories of college was when my friend Brad invited me into his apartment and got me listening to The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on his really expensive Sony headphones. It was after this listening session that I became a devout fan of The Beatles’ music, and unknowingly chose sides in the great musical debate. Most people I knew who liked The Beatles were not fans of The Stones, so my exposure to a band that is famous throughout the world was quite limited. That was until I saw Stones In Exile an amazing documentary that covers the period in 1971 after Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor were “exiled” from their home country of England because of tax issues. Director Stephen Kijak takes us back to the villa called Nellcote at Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France where the Rolling Stones wrote and recorded their seminal classic, Exile On Main Street. While watching the extraordinary film you get a sense of the turmoil and emotion that went into this record that sounds far removed from the band’s prior work. On top of the stories behind each song there’s also a series of recent interviews about the impact this album had on the lives such famous people as director Martin Scorsese, producer Jimmy Miller, engineer Andy Johns, photographer Dominique Tarle, legendary sax man Bobby Keys, White Stripes singer/songwriter Jack White, singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow, and many others.
After watching this well-crafted, and extremely personal, documentary about a band in exile I gained a new sense of appreciation for The Rolling Stones’ music. In 1971, no band was making music like what you hear on “Exile On Main Street.” Pink Floyd was touring with material from Meddle while Led Zeppelin was rocking out Zoso, and The Beatles were all focusing on solo careers. The Rolling Stones, on the other hand, were creating the blueprint for rock music in the 70s, and no documentary demonstrates this more than Stones In Exile. Watch this film and understand what it meant to be a star in this era of rock history. You won’t be disappointed.