YOU’VE got to hand it to Mick Jagger. Two months short of 75, and old and crinkly now, like most of his generation, he’s still making headlines more than 50 years after he and the band played their first gig as the Rolling Stones at the Marquee in London. But not just for his music.
Or maybe so, given that Mick, in music and as an off-stage mick, epitomised sex, drugs and roll ‘n’ roll, all that was seedy in, and the underbelly of, the Sixties and its calls for freedoms on all fronts. Par for the course, of course, are the revelations that, not alone did he sleep with 4,000 women, last count, but did one better and had a full-blown affair with that other rock diva, the late David Bowie.
It had long been rumoured the two allegedly enjoyed an illicit affair back when but the biography, Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger, by Christopher Andersen, lays it out, somewhat controversially, as fact. Andersen claims the affair started when, after meeting in 1973, Mick went backstage at one of Bowie’s concerts and things soon turned physical.
‘Angie Bowie, married to David, came home to find the pair in bed. Oh, hello, said Bowie …’
It all came to a head, though, when Angie Bowie, married to David at the time, returned home to find the pair together in bed.
“Angie went upstairs to her bedroom, slowly pushed the door open, and there they were: Mick Jagger and David Bowie, naked in bed together, sleeping. Both men woke up with a start. ‘Oh, hello,’ said Bowie, clearly taken by surprise. ‘How are you?’
“‘I’m fine,’ Angie replied. ‘Do you want some coffee’?’’
Both men have over the years denied the claim and Angie Bowie has increasingly removed herself from these quoted remarks.
Andersen also claims Jagger became obsessed with actress Angelina Jolie after meeting her in the late ‘90s. that “has slept with 4,000 women over the course of his life, and, in retrospect, I think that might be kind of a low figure”. (You do the sums).
Yes, you’ve got to hand it to Mick. For a guy who’s no oil painting, all tight pants and mouth, among the beautiful and famous he has bedded have been Chrissie Shrimpton, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Marsha Hunt, Carly Simon, Margaret Trudeau and Sophie Dahl. And Carla Bruni whom he allegedly told was No. 4,000 on his list of conquested courtesans.
Twice married, father to seven, our Mick was never the stuff of the ideal husband. When he wed the Nicaraguan intellectual and political activist Bianca Macias in 1971, his detractors noted with some glee that it wasn’t for her brains nor beauty, but because, as they put it, she could have been his twin. Wooing a woman who was almost his doppelganger, he was playing the narcissist.
In 1985, when Jerry Hall was pregnant with their second child, he pledged to marry her “any day now”. Two weeks later, asked how the plans were going, he said: “Marriage? Definitely not. It gives me claustrophobia.”
But in the measure of a decadent life, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll that matters. Jagger is acknowledged as one of the great front men, embodying what it means to be the singer with a R&B, or any band for that matter, since that Marquee gig more than half century ago.
Whether it’s in the studio or on stage, he continually sets the standard to which others aspire.
And when it comes to musical influence, bands as diverse as Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Foo Fighters, The Flamin’ Groovies, and even the Sex Pistols, give more than a passing nod to the Stones.
Enjoy the gig …