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Sir Mick Jagger - Rock Legend

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Sir Mick Jagger.

Mick Jagger: living legend - rock'n'roll songwriter and lead singer with the Rolling Stones, still strutting his stuff when most others his age are drawing their pensions. Jagger, famous for his 'rubber lips' and lived-in features, calls his wrinkles 'laughter lines':

Surely nothing could be that funny.
- Jazz singer and musician George Melly.

Early Life

Michael 'Mick' Phillip Jagger made his first public appearance in Dartford, Kent, UK, on 26 July, 1943, the elder of two sons for Australian immigrant Eva (1913 - 2000) and her husband Basil 'Joe' Jagger (1913 - 2006). Both Mick's father and grandfather were teachers, and it was hoped the new son and heir would follow in their footsteps. Their second son Chris arrived on 5 August, 1949.

Even though young Mick went to Dartford Grammar school, left there with three A-levels to his name, and went on to the London School of Economics, destiny was calling him in another direction. When he was 19 he left education to pursue a career in music, much to the disappointment of his mother, but his father quietly supported his son's desire to follow his dream.

The Rolling Stones

Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?
- Andrew Loog Oldham, Rolling Stones' manager until 1966.

Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones (1942 - 69) formed the Rolling Stones in 1962 with Jagger and Jagger's old schoolfriend Keith Richards. Jagger sang lead vocals, danced and played the harmonica. Guitarists Bill Wyman and Keith Richards, Ian Stewart on the piano and drummer Charlie Watts made up the rest of the band.

Their first UK hit was 'Not Fade Away' which reached number three. They scored five number ones in a row between 1964 and 65: 'It's All Over Now', 'Little Red Rooster', 'The Last Time', 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' and 'Get Off Of My Cloud'. Their next single, 'Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown', just missed the top spot in February 1966, thanks to one-hit wonder Nancy Sinatra with 'These Boots Are Made For Walking'. The Stones' follow-up 'Paint It Black' charted for ten weeks, making number one in May 1966. 'Let's Spend the Night Together' in 1967 only made number three, but they bounced back with chart-toppers 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'Honky Tonk Women', which was in the charts for a total of 17 weeks. 'Honky Tonk Women' was their eighth and last number one single, the biggest-seller over the summer of 1969.

Brian Jones was sacked from the group because of his increasingly erratic behaviour and not showing up for gigs, and Jagger took over the leadership. Jones died not long afterwards; he drowned in a swimming pool on 3 July, 1969. That same month the Stones performed a free outdoor concert at Hyde Park in London, which they dedicated to Jones. Jagger read out part1 of the poem Adonaïs which had been written by Percy Shelley in 1821, commemorating the death of his friend and fellow poet, John Keats.

Beatles Rivalry

All through the 1960s, there seemed to be two main groups vying with each other for chart success, while indulging in the excesses such lifestyles had to offer. From groupies to drugs, the Stones and the Beatles constantly tried to outdo each other with shock headlines. There were arrests, spells in custody, time spent in rehab, and two-year gaps in single releases while band members sought to iron out artistic differences. Same meat, different gravy, but it was the Stones who survived the fallout. There was no love lost between the two supergroups though, John Lennon dismissed Jagger as a 'copycat', saying:

I'd like to list what we [the Beatles] did and what the Stones did two months later on every album. Mick imitates us.

Whether this is true or not, the Rolling Stones managed to produce a sound which was totally different from the Beatles - not as advanced harmonically, but more rhythmic and gutsy.

Taylor/Wood

Mick Taylor had replaced Jones in the group; he lasted until 1974. Taylor's departure made way for Ronnie Wood, an experienced guitarist who had been a member of The Small Faces (later just The Faces) with Rod Stewart.

Founder Stones member Ian Stewart died in 1985. The Rolling Stones were inducted into the US Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Bill Wyman retired in 1993, but the rest of the band, Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, carried on recording and touring 'because we love it'.

In 1994 at the MTV Video Music Awards, the Stones were honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The following year, the band won two Grammys for 'Best Rock Album' and 'Best Music Video'. In 1998 the Stones toured Russia, with Mick announcing: Privyet Rossiya! Nakonyets, my zdyes! which means 'Hi Russia, we're here at last!'

The Glimmer Twins

Mick's got a bit of Shakespeare in him, no doubt about it. We've had fun arguments, writing songs. I would say, I think this should be an instrumental, and meanwhile, he'd written an opera ... To me, writings songs is like making love: You need two to write a song.
- The Glimmer Twins according to Keith Richards, 1989.

The first few Stones hits weren't written by band members. Jagger and Keith Richards formed a songwriting partnership, known by the nickname 'the Glimmer Twins', but they wrote only for other performers, as they were not impressed with their own abilities. For example, they wrote 'As Tears Go By' which was recorded by Marianne Faithfull in 1964. When that was a hit, no-one was more surprised than Jagger and Richards, who then penned 'That Girl Belongs to Yesterday' for Gene Pitney.

According to Richards they were 'horrible pop songs', and Jagger called them 'crap ballads' - what they really wanted to write was rock and roll belters for the Stones but neither of them felt confident enough. Jagger was inspired by Buddy Holly's songwriting talent but Richards didn't want to churn out more 'soppy love ballads', even though they were easier to write.

The turning point for both was 'The Last Time'. With Jagger's talent for wording and Richards writing the melody, this was recorded by the Stones and reached the number one spot in March 1965. From then on, the Glimmer Twins wrote all the Rolling Stones hits.

You can't really clarify who wrote which song. It's not really true that I wrote all of one, and he wrote all of one when you get down to it. Keith or I might have had the initial idea, but after a while you can't separate who wrote it. We'd just sit down and do them, sometimes in the studio, sometimes at home.
- Mick Jagger talking about the Glimmer Twins in 1976.

In Guitar Hero II on the Xbox 360, the Keef & Mick Award (named after Keith Richards and Mick Jagger) is an achievement level. Richards and Jagger also both appear in the long-running monthly comic book Cerebus the Aardvark.

Solo Work

Jagger released one solo record in 1970 - 'Memo From Turner', which he wrote for the film Performance. It spent five weeks in the chart but didn't even make the top 30. His solo albums: She's The Boss (1985), Primitive Cool (1987), Wandering Spirit (1993) and Goddess In The Doorway (2001) weren't soul-baring introspections, just Jagger without the Stones. 'Just Another Night', a track from She's The Boss, made the top 20.

He applied his songwriting talents to film soundtracks such as Alfie and Ruthless People but failed to set the screen alight; although the song 'Old Habits Die Hard' won a Golden Globe, the soundtrack for Alfie collectively 'won' the worst film soundtrack award!

In October 2007, Jagger released an album of his sans-Stones work: Very Best of Mick Jagger. 'Put Me In The Trash' is reminiscent of 'Jumping Jack Flash'. 'Dancing In The Street' with David Bowie - well, Jagger and Bowie's voices don't sound good together; you really want to hear one or the other. In 1984 when über-wealthy rockers were begging you to send in your hard-earned Saturday night pub fund to feed starving African children, 'Dancing In The Street' became an anthem, but it hasn't aged well. Other collaborators on Very Best of Mick Jagger include Dave Stewart, Peter Tosh and the Red Devils.

Filmography

Jagger has also had a notable acting career; he played a retired bisexual rock star in Nicolas Roeg's Performance (1968) and made the role of Ned Kelly (1970) his own, growing a beard to play Australia's most famous outlaw. Another notable performance was in 1983, in an episode of the popular Faerie Tale Theatre called 'The Nightingale'. Venturing into the sci-fi genre in 1992, Jagger took on the role of bounty hunter in Freejack. In Bent (1997) which was set in Nazi Germany, Jagger portrayed drag queen Greta/George.

Jagger founded his own production company, Jagged Films, in 1995, stating his reason as being: to start my own projects instead of just going in other people's, being involved peripherally, or doing music. Their first production was Enigma in 2001, an adaptation based on the World War II novel by Robert Harris, starring Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott. In Man From Elysian Fields (2002), Jagger played the part of Luther Fox, who was something of a madame.

He's not a cockadoodledoo; he's much more like a brothel-keeper or a madame. He's incredibly sexy and very virile. I also find him incredibly motherly and maternal clutched into his bosom of ethnic blues. He's a white boy from Dartford trying his damnedest to be ethnic.
- David Bowie sums up his admiration for his friend Mick Jagger.

Sex Appeal

I wouldn't kick Mick Jagger out of bed.
- A line by hippie Don Dacus in the rock musical Hair

Jagger loved the rock'n'roll lifestyle and all the advantages that went along with it. Even though Jagger was seen with plenty of girls, he became a gay icon, and rumours have persisted that he's bisexual. Parties which lasted days with attendees imbibing unknown but vast quantities of alcohol and partaking of substances of dubious origin, it's possible there isn't a bedpost big enough in the world to accommodate all the notches Jagger earned. To be fair, Jagger only took what was on offer, and groupies were ten a penny. His status as a sex god was being established as if his sole task in life was to populate the planet with mini-Micks.

Marianne Faithfull

One lover was Marianne Faithfull, who had fled an unhappy marriage with a child in tow and sought shelter at the London home of Brian Jones and Anita Pallenberg. Upon meeting Jagger, the pair quickly grew attached and lived the high life to the fullest extent. With reporters on the trail of discarded reefers, the besotted couple became the precursor for such future tabloid gift pairings as Kate Moss and Pete Doherty. Marianne became pregnant in 1968 but she was addicted to cocaine and their daughter Corrina was stillborn at Jagger's retreat in Ireland. By 1970, Marianne was battling heroin addiction, and was in and out of medical establishments to try and kick her drug habit. This and a court battle for custody of her son took their toll. Her relationship with Jagger disintegrated, she lost the custody battle and attempted suicide.

Angie Bowie

Jagger wrote the song 'Angie' for his friend David Bowie's ex-wife; rumours persist that the pair had an affair but both have denied it. Angie wrote in her autobiography Backstage Passes: Life On the Wild Side with David Bowie that she arrived home one day to discover her husband in their bed with Jagger. Both men insist they had 'just crashed' after Jagger indulged too heavily to go home.

Princess Margaret

HRH Princess Margaret was the Royal pin-up girl of her day; before her indulgences took their toll she was drop-dead gorgeous, with fabulous turquoise eyes. She owned a desert island, Mustique, to which she invited colourful characters who probably wouldn't have been welcome at Buckingham Palace. Margaret had a taste for 'bad' boys and liked to be entertained to help her unwind from the stuffiness of royal protocol. Jagger was a regular visitor to Mustique.

Sophie Dahl

When Roald Dahl's granddaughter hit the celebrity circuit it wasn't long before she was seen out on the town on the arm of Mick Jagger. Not all the publicity was complimentary or flattering. Even in celebland they seemed a mismatch and ranked one of the oddest couplings of 2001.

Mick Jagger was indefatigable. He was pure energy. I woke up the next day feeling as if I'd been through a war.
- Janice Dickinson in her autobiography No Lifeguard On Duty.

Family Life

Jagger's first child, Karis, with singer Marsha Hunt, was born on 4 November, 1970. Karis Jagger is an actress. Jagger married actress and humanitarian activist Bianca Perez Morena de Macias in May 1971. He famously described her as 'like looking in a mirror'. Bianca is now a Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador. They had a daughter, Jade, born 21 October, 1971, who is a jewellery designer.

Jagger's second wife, supermodel Jerry Hall, had four of his children, Elizabeth (born 1984), James (born 1985), Georgia (born 1992) and Gabriel (born 1997). In 1999, Jagger joined the Kabbalah religion with Jerry, but the expensive dalliance didn't last long.

They always talked about giving in order to receive, but I didn't really realise that in order to go through a door of miracles you had to give ten per cent of your income.
- Jerry Hall's thoughts on the Kabbalah religion.

They separated2 after nine years of marriage in 1999, not long after a Brazilian model called Luciana Gimenez gave birth to Jagger's son Lucas. Jerry says that she and Jagger are now good friends and he is a good father. However, she insists he was tight with money during their 22-year relationship. He responded that that was utter rubbish, insisting he always paid his half of the bills.

Jagger is a grandfather but details about the children are kept secret to guard their privacy and minimise potential threats to their security.

Since 2005 Jagger has been dating former model L'Wren Scott, who is 23 years his junior. At 6'4" she towers over him, but he seems smitten, calling her his 'main point of interest'.

Giving Back

Jagger has supported the Los Angeles Free Clinic over many years. The clinic provides medical and dental care to men, women and children in need of their services. Other celebrity supporters include Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Lopez.

Jagger performed alongside Sir Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton in the four-hour Concert for the Americas at Madison Square Garden, New York City, on 20 October, 2001. The following day he was among the line-up of stars who performed at an eight-hour concert at the RFK Stadium in Washington DC to fundraise for victims of the 11 September attacks.

In 2002, Jagger donated £100,000 to his former school, the Dartford Grammar School in Kent, to encourage children to study music.

Awards and Honours

  • Golden Globe: 'Best Original Song - Motion Picture' for the song 'Old Habits Die Hard' in Alfie.

  • A knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, for services to popular music. Jagger accepted the honour even though Keith Richards thought it went against the band's rebellious image. Richards was reported to have said: 'It was enraging. I threatened to pull out of the tour ... I went berserk and bananas'.

  • In a survey by the Leaders In London International Leadership Summit 2007, Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were named the most respected partnership in the entertainment world, taking 27% of the vote. They faced stiff competition from the likes of comedy duo Ant and Dec, who raked in 25% to come second, and married couple Victoria and David Beckham, who scored 20% and third place overall.

Jagger Fossils

In 1972, a fossilised mollusc was named Anomphalus jaggerius after Mick Jagger. Not to be outdone, in 1995 a newly-discovered trilobite was given the name Aegrotocatellus jaggeri.

Satisfaction

To people of a certain age, Jagger represents the embodiment of a decadent lifestyle, and proof positive that age is all in the mind. He's done everything and enjoyed himself along the way. To younger generations, Jagger and the Stones must seem like relics of a bygone age probably best consigned to the past. However, old 'rubber lips' doesn't look likely to hang up his microphone just yet, and no wonder, considering the Stones' A Bigger Bang worldwide tour netted them £250m, earning them a place in the Guinness World Records for highest grossing tour ever.

1The full poem is nearly 500 lines long.2Jagger claimed that their marriage ceremony in 1990 on a Bali beach was not legally valid.

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