The rolling legend

The rolling legend

Next week, Jagger’s 65. But when he and Ray Connelly were at university together, the future Stone might have become an economics don. So Mick, countless girls and millions of pounds later, where did it all go wrong? Ray Connelly goes down memory lane



By Daily Mail

Published: Tue 22 Jul 2008, 3:03 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:11 PM

HE’S a collision of contradictions.

The most outrageous, sexually ambiguous, tantalising rock singer ever who has spent 45 years consorting with a gang of druggie musical outlaws and pursuing legions of beautiful, rich girls, is also a keen cricket fan who runs his business with a penetrating grip on finance and his band’s tours with a rod of iron.

And, though once considered an anti-Establishment rock ‘n’ roll pariah, he’s now a knight of the realm, an occasional film producer, and a keep-fit fanatic.

He is, of course, Mick Jagger, the leader and de facto manager of the most famous surviving rock group in the world, the Rolling Stones.

Next Saturday, the street-fighting man who was once a spokesman for rebellious youth will be 65 - an old-age pensioner.

So what’s he really like, this father of seven and grandfather of three who is believed to be worth more than £225 million?

Well, he’s certainly conservative when it comes to the upbringing, education and christening of his children.

He’s also world renowned as a free-spirited lothario, whose long innings of beautiful conquests includes Carla Bruni, now the wife of the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, Marianne Faithfull, Carly Simon, Chrissie Shrimpton, Marsha Hunt, Anita Pallenberg, Bebe Buell, Luciana Morad - not to mention ex-wives Bianca Jagger and long-suffering Jerry Hall, and latest lover, model L’Wren Scott. and countless others.

Self-creation

In many senses Mick is a self-creation who always appeared to see future trends before everyone else, whether it be the commercial potential of R’n’B music, free love (he was always good at that - but then he did practise a lot), student revolution, or, later, the pioneering of massive global rock tours.

He never had the best voice in the world, indeed the beginning, he and other members of the Stones wondered whether it was strong enough for a front man. But what Mick did with his voice was extraordinary.

A clever mimic in conversation, he began copying American blues singers and then added a kind of faux, mocking Cockney dialect - quite different from the understated middle-class accent he’d grown up with at his grammar school in Dartford, Kent.

The welding of the two was inspired. It gave all those brilliant Rolling Stones records, that whole generations still love to dance to, an insolent edge.

I first became aware of Jagger - though I didn’t properly meet him until later - in the spring of 1963 when we were both students at the London School of Economics.

In those days it was pretty well unthinkable for a university student to be in a group, rock music being generally associated in academic circles with those of distinctly lower intelligence.

So when this slight, pale, ordinary-looking bloke with a fringe was pointed out to me as being in a band who played in a club in Richmond, two things struck me.

One: he didn’t look anything like a rock star. Two: he obviously didn’t care what anyone thought of him.

History would prove he didn’t have to care what anyone thought of him, because soon they would begin to think like him. As for his looks, they would eventually define the appearance of all rock stars.

The world was changing with incredible speed and Jagger was already ahead of it. As I graduated that year, he dropped out. In those days, that was brave, a real risk to any hopes of a career.

But within six months the Stones had their first record, the Chuck Berry song ‘Come On,’ in the charts.

Arriving in the public eye on the coattails of the then goody-goody Beatles, the Rolling Stones, guided by their first Andrew Loog Oldham, courted controversy.

Unconventional

Outraging conventional opinion sold records and tickets, Oldham explained, as he carefully manufactured the group’s wickedly mutinous image.

It was a lesson Jagger would never forget. More than that, it provided a persona he would grow into, as he targeted the increasingly turbulent Sixties generation to which the Stones appealed.When the group first appeared on television, the station received hundreds of complaints, thanks to their wild performance.

Soon restaurants refused to serve them because of their well-publicised bad behaviour, and when the band toured the world, allegations and exaggerations about Jagger’s act became international headlines.

Whether it was his deliberately provocative burlesque performances, the cheekily explicit lyrics to some of the Stones’ early hits, such as ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together,’ or the nationally rumoured and merrily denied, positioning of a certain Mars Bar, his name quickly became a synonym for everything louche and decadent among the young.

That’s pretty well how it stayed, as comedians began to mimic him - Freddie Starr most brilliantly - cartoonists charted his every new controversy, and young men and other stars were jealous of both his appeal to women and his mesmeric, overtly sexual presence.

Every year through the rest of the Sixties, Jagger upped the ante of suggestiveness, until by 1969 he was stripping to the waist, pulling off his studded belt and lashing the floor like some crazed S&M fetishist as he sang ‘Midnight Rambler.’ Audiences went wild.

What the Stones were developing was a different kind of rock ‘n’ roll. Built around the fey, ever running, dancing, prowling, extraordinarily physical Jagger, the whole lighting and staging of rock concerts began to change.

With his exaggerated make-up and pouting, Jagger was into glam rock before David Bowie even started.

Interestingly, although The Beatles and Stones would often meet in nightatclubs throughout the Sixties, their social circles were quite different.

While the Beatles proclaimed their Northern working-class backgrounds (Lennon exaggerating his), Mick Jagger became a social climber.

Soon, dressed like a Regency buck, with Marianne Faithfull looking like a pre-Raphaelite wraith at his side, he moved into what could best be described as hippy aristocrat territory.

Jagger was hanging out with millionaire socialites such as Princess Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Then there was the gang around Lord Harlech’s groovy, fashionable children, the Ormsby-Gores. Soon Jagger was developing a taste for grand, old houses, living in early 18th century CheyneWalk in Chelsea for a while, making an album in a French chateau.

Change

As the music scene changed in the Seventies, few groups from the previous decade survived. Not so the Rolling Stones.

Although guitarist Keith Richards and Jagger, old friends, songwriters and copartners in the running of the group, would always teasingly bitch about each other - they still do - the band didn’t break up, it just changed some of its members now and then. And with the absence of The Beatles, the Stones got bigger than ever.

Already in charge of their own destinies - their last manager, Allen Klein, having been sacked, and now guided by Prince Rupert Loewenstein, a City financier - they set about reinventing themselves with their own label, Rolling Stones Records.

Now they were even more outrageous, with the cover of their album ‘Sticky Fingers,’ designed by Andy Warhol, showing a zip-fly on a pair of jeans, presumably supposed to be Jagger’s. The logo for their new company was a lascivious tongue hanging out of plump Jagger-type lips.

Sex and rock ‘n’ roll was the message they were selling, and ‘Brown Sugar,’ the album’s best track, was the anthem.

But while Keith Richards seemed happy with his guitar and other pastimes, and neither Bill Wyman nor Charlie Watts had much say in things, Jagger was at the centre of all decisions. In the first decade of the Stones’ careers, they felt they’d never earned as much as they should have, early record deals not being overgenerous.

But ironically, after the hits began to dry up in the Seventies and Eighties, the millions they made from touring never ceased to multiply. Fans, now older and richer, may not care to buy their new records, but everyone wants to see a Rolling Stones concert.

Prime mover

As always Jagger has been the prime mover behind them. A talented guitarist Keith Richards might be, but the notion that the Stones could have survived without Jagger at the helm, overseeing every aspect of their franchise, every part of those vast, extravagant arena stages, with the exploding blizzards of glitter and firework displays, is unthinkable. Quite whether there will be any more tours, following RonnieWood’s recent fall from grace back into the bottle and teenage Russian Lolitas, might now be uncertain.

For sure, Jagger won’t be happy. People with a lot of self-discipline - before every tour he runs miles each day in order to get fit - rarely look kindly on those with less.

Indeed, the story goes, despite the Stones’ reputation for illegal substances, any member of the road crew found taking drugs while on tour faces instant dismissal.

The Stones always looked to many like a band of gipsies - and as their fame grew that’s pretty well what some of them became. Leaving Britain for tax purposes, they seemed to be forever moving countries. This was particularly true of Jagger.

According to his younger brother, Chris, he had always wanted to be rich, and gradually Mick became a serious property owner, buying a chateau in France, with homes in New York, Mustique, Long Island and Los Angeles.

For the years he lived with, and then married Jerry Hall, he had a huge family house in Richmond, just outside London, where Jerry and their children still live. He now flits peripatetically between an apartment in London and his other homes.

Years ago he was offered £2million by a publisher to write his autobiography - but returned the advance when he realised he couldn’t remember a lot of what had happened.

Possibly with time on his hands, as he reaches pensioner status, still the intelligent, articulate, tonguein- cheek, well-read sophisticate he’s always been behind the bohemian mask of rock ‘n’ roll, he’ll have time to refresh that memory and savour some of the peaks of his career.

The Rolling Stones

1964: Release debut album (#1 in UK, #11 in US charts)

1964: The Stones are popular in Britain and attempt to take America with their first U.S. tour and appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and Dean Martin’s program.

1968: Beggars Banquet released.

1969: Let It Bleed released.

June 8, 1969: An ever-unreliable Brian Jones, bitter after the Jagger/Richards team’s rise to power within the group, is replaced by Mick Taylor.

July 3, 1969: Brian Jones drowns at home in his swimming pool.

1971: Sticky Fingers released.

1972: Exile on Main St. released.

1976: Ron Wood, formerly of The Faces, officially joins the band.

1993: Bill Wyman, the oldest member of the Stones, finally retires after becoming disillusioned with touring.

2005: A Bigger Bang is released. It is the bands 22nd studio album.

November 2006: The Stones are still a touring force well into their sixties; the A Bigger Bang Tour is named the highest grossing ever, with a final tally of $437 million.


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