The first thing you need to know about "The Rolling Stones: 50" is that is an offficial Rolling Stones 50th anniversary photo book that doesn't even come close to having the first-person accounts that are found in 2003's official Rolling Stones memoir "According to the Rolling Stones."
The stories in "The Rolling Stones: 50" are basically in the form of photo captions. And each photo caption is usually just one to three sentences by a current member of the band (lead singer Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards, drummer Charlie Watts or guitarist Ronnie Wood). Each of the current band members also has an introduction page at the beginning of the book. (Former Stones members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor do not have any statements in this book.)
But with that said, what the book lacks in detailed stories or revealing insights into the band members' personal lives, it makes up for in the vast diversity of rare photos that span the Rolling Stones' 50-year history. And that's why "Rolling Stones: 50" is still essential for anyone who collects Rolling Stones books.
"The Rolling Stones: 50" (which was published in the U.K. in July 2012 and the U.S. in October 2012) is in chronological order by decade. Many of the photos are from the Daily Mirror's Mirorpix archives. Not surprisingly, the best photos in the book are the ones from the 1960s, when photographers had the most access to the Rolling Stones. It's during this decade that we see more photos of the Rolling Stones off stage.
But the time the book gets to the 1980s, the 1990s and the 21st century, it's pretty much all on-stage/tour photos of the band. No studio portraits. No photos of Jagger at a hair salon or sleeping on a private plane. No photos of the band shopping for clothes or hanging out at the beach.
Don't expect to see a lot of photos in this book of the Rolling Stones as husbands or family men because you can count on one hand the number of photos that include any of the Rolling Stones' wives, girlfriends or family members. (One of the exceptions is a 1982 photo of Wood posing backstage with his father, Archie, at Wembley Stadium in London.)
"Rolling Stones: 50" inspired gallery exhibits of the same name in London and New York. Flipping through the book without reading the captions will take less than 15 minutes. But if you want to savor the book as much as possible, then the best way to experience it is to put on some Rolling Stones music while looking at the photos and reading all of the captions.