Charlie is good tonight
Charlie is good tonight was a Switzerland based Rolling Stones fanzine in 1985 that actually folded after four issues due to lack of time... I was just 18 when I started the fanzine and maybe should have used my time for school but I didn't. Fuck school however. Eventually I dropped out, had to do my military service in 1986 and everything got a little puzzled after that.
1985.02.04 Charlie is good tonight Nr. 1
This issue was just waiting for the first Mick Jagger solo album and included various other news. It started compiling new released Stones records as well as listing cover versions of Stones songs. Most promising was perhaps the "Bootleg news" compiled by Jean Haristoy (who later published as "Tumbling Dice") presenting nine new bootlegs and describing them with an accuracy that wasn't seen before in the Stones collectors scene. Myself I started compiling Rolling Stones collectors info in the vein of the famous Collectors file by Wilfried Stember - this eventually led to the publication of Eat it (The well well book) in autumn 1985. Also included was a letter by Bill German who apologized about the delays of his Beggars banquet fanzine plus some promo for the forthcoming book Heart of stone by Felix Aeppli (which, in fact, was first to be called Charlie is good tonight, hence the title of the fanzine). The picture quality in this first issue was especially bad.
1985.04.16 Charlie is good tonight Nr. 2
This second issue was full of reviews about Mick Jagger's solo album She's the boss, most of them taken from official music mags, but also some by fans:
Then I began compiling "News & Gossip & Miscellanous" in a column which became very popular among the fanzine subscribers. There was more info on cover versions of Stones songs and I also started collecting info about the Rolling Stones in the press. "Tumbling Dice" presented 25 new bootlegs this time! Plus I did a page to promote other fan clubs of the era: "Chantilly Lace" from Austria (by Gregor Semrad)), "The Stones" from the USA (by Robert Furrer) and the still existing "It's only rock'n'roll" from Norway (by Bjornulf Vik).
Some people sent me some photos which I reprinted but the quality hadn't become better since the first issue (remember all this was made on a Xerox machine). As a special gimmick the first 20 copies of this issue came with a Mick Jagger fold-out poster inside.
1985.06.12 Charlie is good tonight nr. 3
This issue had Charlie "Well Well" Watts on the cover again (Jean Haristoy who had been present outside the recording studio when the Stones recorded in Paris in spring 1985 had shown the fanzine to Charlie Watts and the guy reportedly commented "Well well...")
Then there were some reviews about the just released album Willie and the Poor Boys and of course more new releases, more Stones cover versions, more collectors info, more gossip, and still more reviews about Mick Jaggers album She's the boss.
Besides Jean presented 18 new bootlegs in this issue and announced another nine, while Monika "Möneli" Zimmermann allowed me to reprint three of her Stones drawings.
1985.10.02 Charlie is good tonight nr. 4
In the meantime the fanzine had about 60 or 70 subscribers and more people offerd their help, among them Gary Robertson who sent in all the latest news from the UK gossip papers. Again new releases were reviewed, there were more Stones cover versions, and then there was Live Aid:
Furthermore there was again "Gossip gossip gossip (for the fans!)", more info about Willie and the Poor Boys (including a translation of an interview with Bill Wyman), another music press review, the announcement of Eat it (The well well book) which was published in autumn 1986 plus talk about the forthcoming Rolling Stones album (rumored working titles were Sundays and Back to zero).
Jean Haristoy reviewed another 16 bootlegs and I remember he had sent me a real fat folder with hundreds of bootleg descriptions!!
Also included was some promotion for Felix Aeppli's book Heart of stone and first rumours appeared, Bill Wyman would publish the first (1960-1969) of three volumes about the Stones in summer 1986!
The famous lost Charlie is good tonight nr. 5
This issue was planned for release in 1986 but was never finished, thus never mailed: As I was actually leaving school and then had to join the Swiss army where I served as a radio operator, this issue never saw the day of light - what a shame! Because now suddenly more and more people started sending in their contributions - it was just me who couldn't get finished after all, partly due to my insatiable perfectionism which prevented me from finishing this issue. Meanwhile it was summer 1986 and Dirty work had been released (I had my first listening of "Harlem shuffle" in the barracks) and quite some reviews arrived:
- Walter Schäppi: Harlem shuffle
- Thomas Hader: Isn't it strange? Always when I play "Sleep tonight" everybody wakes up!
- Michael Kuhn: Too bad to be good: You gotta whip me
- Manfred Nitschmann: Dirty review
- Vreny Stutz: March 24, 1986
- Nico Zentgraf: Dirty work-criticism
But this issue would also have covered all the things that had happened since the autumn of 1985:
- Michael Kuhn: At The Beeb - on the famous Stones program from 30 November 1985
- Michael Kuhn: Stu - on Ian Stewart
- Andrea Tobler: Rock-Vereinigung Winterthur - on a Swiss Stones cover band
The contents of the fanzine were also expanding in various other directions as you can see in the following articles:
- Bogdan Augustynski: Polish sound postcards (part 1)
- Michael Kuhn: Too many cooks don't ever change - Mick Jagger in Los Angeles 1974
- Gary Robertson: I never saw the flying saucers - fantasy story, winner of the Bullshit Award!
- Gary Robertson, Nico Zentgraf: Stones versus Punk (10th anniversary report basing on facts)
Of course, more "Bootleg news" would have been included, but also a report about the sessions of the Andrew Oldham Orchestra in the mid-1960s and a report about the John Lennon-produced Mick Jagger song "Too many cooks" from 1974. Sadly enough, in 1986 two subscribers and contributors of the fanzine left the building, leaving only memories:
The following liner notes to the sampler tape Marquee '62 was never planned for inclusion in Charlie is good tonight but is given here anyway:
- Walter Schäppi: Marquee '62
Every issue also held information about new press publications and bootlegs - for your convenience I have collected them in the following two articles:
- Michael Kuhn: An incomplete list of Rolling Stones-related articles 1985-1986
- Jean Haristoy (aka "Tumbling Dice"): Bootleg news
Since then I have never stopped being a Stones fan and kept up collecting what I could get. Many plans were made to publish the definitive Stones collector's file (this was the reason why I bought my first computer in 1987, and for a long time the work on this project was my main activity on the computer). Then finally I saw my first Stones concert ever, Frankfurt 1990, and some weeks later I was even caught for trying to steal a Stones bonus CD from the shelves in London (they called me a shoplifter! hehe), but the fanzine however never came to life again. Around 1993 I was planning to compile a Charlie is good tonight scrapbook and to start a new fanzine, Tramp's mushup - as you see, nothing has come out of this either. Only in 1997 when I entered the internet community, I designed a little homepage about Charlie is good tonight - but I haven't added much since then, and it's 2000 now. Instead I designed homepages for Serge Gainsbourg, Stiller Has, Trio, Klaus Kinski and Screamin' Jay Hawkins to learn how this HTML works... and meanwhile I started downloading all the fine Stones stuff I never had the money to buy in the 1980s! What a wonderful world!