THE myths behind The Rolling Stones’ tribulation and trial in Chichester will be exploded in a new book by Forest Row-based writer Simon Wells.
Simon is keen to speak to anyone who was involved in or recalls directly the 1967 drugs bust at Keith Richards’ Redlands home in West Wittering and Richards’ and Mick Jagger’s subsequent appearance at Chichester Crown Court.
Simon pledged to strip away all the legends which have grown up around the incident to tell the story of what really happened.
“The project is really to look at the trial of Mick and Keith which I feel was a major watershed in assessing the views of soft drugs in the country.
“But there is certainly also a huge back story to what was going on.
“For those that know the Stones, the Redlands story is well known, but I feel there were other issues that need to be explored.”
Simon’s book will be called Butterfly On The Wheel, an allusion to the landmark, influential pro-Stones editorial with which The Times responded to their conviction.
It will be published by Omnibus in October/November this year; Simon is needing any contributions by May.
The historical context is fascinating: “Lots of pop groups were flaunting some arrogant attitudes towards drugs in the mid-1960s. For many reasons, there was a very cosy relationship between the press and pop stars.
“These new groups offered a breath of fresh air in a very dismal Britain, and for a few years editors were happy to ignore the fact that these celebrities were involved in drugs and other shenanigans.
“By the end of 1966 it had reached breaking point, though.
“It was The News Of The World that decided to blow the lid on the activities of pop stars.
“The editors were starting to see that the pop stars could garner huge sales for them, and it got to the point where The News Of The World decided to blow the whistle.
“They were doing undercover investigations in London in 1966, trying to infiltrate what pop stars were doing in their private lives.
“They approached (Rolling Stone) Brian Jones in a club. He said, as was his penchant, that he was the leader of The Rolling Stones.
“They assumed he must be Mick Jagger, and they said Mick Jagger had invited them back to his flat for pills and stuff. But Mick Jagger was actually in Italy at the time.”
On his return, Jagger was advised to sue - and it is in this context that Simon views the Redlands bust: a bust which put Jagger in the dock and so headed off a libel action.
“The News Of The World claimed that they had received information from an informant that drugs would be used at a party at Keith Richards’ house at West Wittering. The News Of The World tipped off Sussex Police.”
The trial was at Chichester Crown Court in June 1967. Jagger was sentenced to six months; Richards a year.
They were granted an appeal certificate. On appeal, Keith’s case was thrown out and Jagger was offered a conditional discharge.
Simon believes the whole thing was a clear act of targetting high-profile stars - an incident which displayed the huge gulf between youth and the establishment.
“It also showed the enormous power that youth had and that certainly the Stones were arrogantly displaying.”
Anyone who can help Simon with his researches can call him on 01342 826429.