The Rolling Stones’ late 60s period in all its “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” glory with a specific emphasis on the final days of founding member Brian Jones, provide the historical backdrop for Greg Kihn’s new fiction novel “Painted Black.” The veteran rocker turned successful novelist brings to bear his wealth of experience as a passionate lover of the music, artists and era, combined with first hand knowledge of living, eating and breathing the rock n’ roll lifestyle, gained through his chart-topping success with The Greg Kihn Band and his many years as a radio personality at KUFX FM in San Jose, California, to create a story rich in detail, atmosphere, exotic locales and colorful characters.
“Painted Black” explores the elements surrounding the mysterious and tragic death of the hugely talented but deeply troubled ex-Stones guitarist as seen through the eyes of a fictional character called Bobby Dingle a.k.a. Dust Bin Bob. Though written as a sequel to the “Jeopardy” hitmaker’s previous novel “Rubber Soul,” which provides the origins of the “Dust Bin” character in the context of a 1966 assassination attempt on The Beatles in Manila, the novel nevertheless works as stand-alone story.
Reading “Painted Black” feels a bit like watching the movie “The Titanic” in the sense that the reader already knows the outcome, yet feels a sort of voyeuristic compulsion to follow the story through to its tragic end. That sense of foreboding and inevitability permeates every page of the novel. Though the story is classified as a murder mystery, it also serves as a fascinating character study of the late rock star, capturing the complexities of the man and the zeitgeist of the times in ways that ring true, despite it being a work of fiction – the hallmark of a great storyteller.
Kihn deftly weaves his fictional characters and story elements seamlessly with historical facts, places, events and characters, including such legendary personalities as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Marianne Faithfull. The author’s passion for his material, vivid imagination and painstaking research serve to catapult the reader back to the tumultuous period, that saw The Stones on the verge of their creative peak and popularity – yet balanced on the brink of self-destruction as power plays, drug abuse, skirt chasing, bad press and legal problems threatened their very existence as Kihn delves into the darkside of rock stardom and the psychedelic era.
For fans who enjoyed Kihn’s “Rubber Soul” this is a must-read, but “Painted Black” will also appeal to those who simply love a good murder yarn set in exotic locations with the story whisking readers from London, Marrakech to Morocco as the mystery unfolds. British Invasion fans and particularly Stones fans will appreciate the plethora of intertextual references, which include popular and obscure Stones songtitles and other rock n’ roll minutiae strewn liberally through the novel.
Brian Jones conspiracy theorist will find no new angles here, though the author never purports to actually providing answers to the riddle of Jones’ death. Kihn does include the key players and theories that have been advocated over the years and also introduces an occult element involving an antique magic mirror that provides an added level of intrigue and suspense to the story, that will keep readers riveted page after page. Highly recommended!
Published by Open Road, “Painted Black” is available in paperback and digital editions. Click here to order. For more information on Greg Kihn, click here.
The Stones will launch their highly anticipated Zip Code Tour in San Diego on May 24 at Petco Park. Tickets for all U.S. dates can be purchased at AXS.