When I was at primary school, our teachers tried to encourage us to read by quoting an old proverb:
There is no book so bad you cannot learn something from it.
I don’t think my teachers would have been proud with my choices of books, but I certainly learned a lot from them. Speaking of my choices of books, I am still able to raise eyebrows when I open my backpack. One day I will be reading a book on becoming a better writer, the other I will read a book nobody in the office would even think sitting next to. I just finished reading one of those obscure books.
I’m a fan of the Rolling Stones, but (surprise!) I am not a typical fan. I like their music, but I couldn’t keep up with their lifestyle or with the lifestyle of a devout Stones’ fan and I’m not obsessed with their total groupie count. OK, I like a little bit of gossip, but at my age I like the facts better. And those are hard to come by, because whatever the Stones’ marketing machine tells us is hardly ever the whole truth.
I started listening to the Rolling Stones as the rock music was being pushed aside by house, acid, dance, jungle, and rap. Brought up of a mixture of rock and heavy metal, I was not compatible with the music of the 90s. After U2′s Rattle and Hum I had nowhere to go.
The Rolling Stones’ music proved to be a nice refuge and I stayed there ever since. (I do listen to other bands, of course, but the Glimmer Twins have a special place in my heart.) As I got interested in the history of the band, I realized that I like them even more and not only because of their music or the flamboyant image, but because of their story of financial ruin and re-birth, which made them more human in my eyes.
The story of their fight for their own money and rights is possibly even more fascinating than the stories of their adventures, but it was never told. And it should be told, because the story of the Rolling Stones’ finances is one of the few stories where a banker is the good guy.
I always wanted to know more about their finances, how they ran the business side of the greatest rock’n'roll band in the world. These stories are very hard to come by, so I wasn’t actively looking for them.
Over the last twenty or so years I have read about half a dozen books on the history of the band, but I didn’t like them, because their authors were obsessed with drugs, sex, and urban legends. That can be fun, but it gets boring when people start rehashing the same old stories.
I was disappointed that all authors focused their attention on the endless procession of groupies, girlfriends, and wives and ignored one important character who was always there, silently working in the background, looking after the Stones’ affairs, getting them out of jail, and protecting against the Establishment. Yet, he was never spared more than a couple of sentences. That man was Prince Rupert Loewenstein who had looked after the Stones’ affairs for over 30 years. He was a banker who saved them, which in my world makes him a saint on Earth.
You wouldn’t expect a banker to tell you how he managed his clients’ affairs, but that is exactly what Prince Rupert Loewenstein does in his memoir, A Prince Among Stones.
The book is too short for me, does not go into enough detail, but it is a very enjoyable read for a fan of the Stones’ who wants to get the backstory. For me it is an essential appendix to the Keith Richards’ astonishingly good Life.
Apart form being a unique who-is-who of his social circle, Prince Loewenstein’s book offers some very good advice:
- arrange your tax affairs in a way that helps you retain what you earn
- buy property on freehold
- it’s good to have a good banker on your side
- good bankers have access to more people than you can imagine
- good bankers know no borders and can communicate, travel, and operate as if political systems, divisions, or even wars did not exist; they are immune to such silly things
Unfortunately, people of Prince Loewenstein’s character are very hard to come by. Which is a shame. But at least we have his book. Recommended, not only for a Stones’ fan.