Sticks and Stones: Tell-all book gives dirty details of being in Mick Jaggers entourage

In 1972, Bill German was an innocent

9-year-old yeshiva bocher growing up in Brooklyn. His musical knowledge was pretty much limited to the Beatles, Michael Jackson and any group that had a television show.

But one morning, he heard the strains of the Rolling Stones’ “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” wafting from his sister’s room. He was hooked. German went on to produce a monthly Stones fanzine called Beggars Banquet, and eventually found a place in the Stones’ entourage.

German writes about his adventures in his new memoir, “Under Their Thumb.” It’s all there: How drummer Charlie Watts once punched Mick Jagger in the face. How German accidentally spilled orange juice on Jagger’s 16th-century Persian rug.

“It all seemed so wild,” German said in a telephone interview of his first encounter with the Stones’ music. “It was wilder than anything I’d heard before. The music was something I couldn’t ignore.”

The fanzine allowed German to combine his fascination with the Stones and his desire to become a reporter. “I wanted to be a journalist at an early age,” he said. “A lot of it started with my mom. She ran the newsletter for her local chapter of Hadassah. I would watch her do it and I wanted to be just like my mommy and start my own newsletter.”

His desire was further fueled by his admiration for Tom Snyder, host of “The Tomorrow Show” in the 1970s and ’80s. “As a teenager, I’d stay up late and watch. He had great newsmakers on, from Charles Manson to Jimmy Carter.”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the inaccurate coverage written by so-called journalists. “That’s what motivated me,” German said. So the week of his 16th birthday, he pecked away at a borrowed typewriter, snuck into his high school mimeo room, and produced the first of 102 issues of his Stones fanzine.

Bill German (left) and Keith Richards read the latest issue of Beggers Banquet.

He admits that he didn’t think things through. “I didn’t know who my audience would be,” German said. “In some ways, it was just a way to clear all the facts that were swimming in my head.”

But he kept at it — and a year or so later quit college so he could devote all his time to his publication.

“My parents were not pleased. They were almost ready to sit shiva for me. They were so happy I got into NYU. But of course the reason I picked NYU is because it was in New York City, where the Stones were,” German said.

Through various intermediaries, and just by standing on streets where he knew they’d pass by, German managed to get copies of the publication to members of the group.

Over time, he became close to Stones guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood. But not all the Stones were appreciative of their fan: Drummer Charlie Watts was always aloof, bassist Bill Wyman is hardly mentioned in German’s book, and Mick Jagger was hot and cold — but mostly cold.

Once German called Jagger to see if German could attend a party the lead singer was throwing. Jagger said “of course,” and yelled to someone for the guest list: “I want to put a friend on.” But a few weeks later, Jagger passed German in the hall and acted as though he didn’t know him.

Observing this, Wood noted: “That’s Mick. A nice bunch of guys.”

Wood and Richards come off the best in German’s tell-all. They appreciated and complimented what German did and regularly invited him to their homes and exclusive parties. In fact, German was the ghostwriter of Wood’s first memoir, “The Works.”

German threw a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his fanzine. Not only did Richards leave an important rehearsal to attend, but German saw “the Prince of Darkness” kibbitzing with Bernie and Sylvia, his parents, “two kosher deli workers from Brooklyn.”

German had to be careful about what pictures he published in his zine. Group members didn’t want their wives and girlfriends back home to know who they hung out with on tour. He also had to be careful when mentioning where members of the group were — for tax purposes they could only spend so many days in the United States, and needed to be at their “real” homes on a Caribbean island to establish residency.

In the U.S., the Stones had a lot of Jews around them. Jane Rose, a member of their management team, was a doctor’s daughter from Long Island. At one point Richards had a personal assistant, Svi, who was a Talmud scholar; he also befriended Freddy Sessler, a Holocaust survivor. And of course there was German himself.

Hanging out with the group exposed German to a lifestyle completely alien to the way he was raised. “It didn’t turn me off to [the Stones], because I knew who they were, but it turned me off to the lifestyle,” he said. “I saw making mistakes with the drugs — I knew that was not something I wanted to do. I wanted to be near the Stones, I didn’t want to be the Stones. My role model was Tom Snyder.”

German credits his Jewish upbringing with helping him resist temptation. “That was just nor part of my upbringing,” he said. “I had a stereotypical Jewish childhood. I do not have any alcoholism or drug addition in my family and that was not something that appealed to me. It was easy for me to say no and just be an observer in the room.”

“Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy From Brooklyn Got Mixed Up With the Rolling Stones” by Bill German (368 pages, Random House, $25)