Rare Print of Censored 1972 Rolling Stones Concert Film Cocksucker Blues Goes on Sale for £25,000

In 1971, The Rolling Stones record­ed their mas­ter­ful dou­ble album Exile on Main Street, under some fab­u­lous cir­cum­stances in the south of France. That same year, they embarked on their first Amer­i­can tour since the 1969 dis­as­ter at Alta­mont tar­nished their brand. Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Robert Frank was there to film it all, and I mean all, with cam­eras back­stage and every­where else, wield­ed by band mem­bers, groupies, and road­ies. The result­ing film, Cock­suck­er Blues (short clip above)—named after an equal­ly elu­sive and deca­dent unre­leased sin­gle—was embar­goed by the band, banned by cen­sors, and only shown in 1979 and then only once every five years there­after, with Frank present, under a strange agree­ment nego­ti­at­ed with much legal wran­gling by Frank, the band, and the courts.

The film’s depic­tion of drug use and debauch­ery is to be expect­ed, but it’s an arti­fact that deserves to be seen on oth­er grounds as well, and it has been by many in boot­leg ver­sions cir­cu­lat­ing for decades. Don DeLil­lo made a point­ed ref­er­ence to the film in the fourth sec­tion of his Great Amer­i­can Nov­el ™, Under­world, and as one of the few crit­ics to review the film has said, it’s a movie as much about late 20th cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca as about the Rolling Stones, “a far truer pic­ture of the USA than any­thing else Frank ever did.” Now, British rare book­seller Peter Har­ring­ton has obtained one of the few qual­i­ty prints of the film and offers it for sale for 25,000 pounds. On the Peter Har­ring­ton web­site, writer Glenn Mitchell cites Ter­ry Southern’s remem­brance of Kei­th Richard’s response to the film. When Robert Frank explained to Richards his idea by say­ing, “it’s vérité,” Richards appar­ent­ly respond­ed, “nev­er mind vérité, I want poet­ry.” “Maybe,” writes Mitchell, “they both got what they want­ed.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Gimme Shel­ter: Watch the Clas­sic Doc­u­men­tary of the Rolling Stones’ Dis­as­trous Con­cert at Alta­mont

Jean-Luc Godard Cap­tures The Rolling Stones Record­ing “Sym­pa­thy for the Dev­il” (1968)

Watch Phish Play All of The Rolling Stones’ Clas­sic Album, Exile on Main Street, Live in Con­cert

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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