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Artist: Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger

Bio

Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger (26 July 1943) is an English singer, songwriter and actor, best known as the lead singer and a co-founder of the Rolling Stones. Jagger's career has spanned over 50 years, and he has been described as "one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of Rock & Roll". Jagger's distinctive voice and performance, along with Keith Richards' guitar style, have been the trademark of the Rolling Stones throughout the career of the band. Jagger gained press notoriety for his admitted drug use and romantic involvements, and was often portrayed as a countercultural figure. In the late 1960s, Jagger began acting in films (starting with Performance and Ned Kelly), to mixed reception. In 1985, he released his first solo album, She's the Boss. In early 2009, Jagger joined the electric supergroup SuperHeavy. In 1989 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2004 into the UK Music Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones. In 2003, he was knighted for his services to popular music. While continuing to tour and release albums with the Rolling Stones, Jagger began a solo career. In 1985 he released his first solo album She's the Boss, produced by Nile Rodgers and Bill Laswell, and featuring Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, Jan Hammer, Pete Townshend and the Compass Point All Stars. It sold fairly well, and the single "Just Another Night" was a Top Ten hit. During this period, he collaborated with the Jacksons on the song "State of Shock", sharing lead vocals with Michael Jackson. For his own personal contributions in the 1985 Live Aid multi-venue charity concert, he performed at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium; he did a duet with Tina Turner of "It's Only Rock and Roll", and the performance was highlighted by Jagger tearing away Turner's skirt. He also did a cover of "Dancing in the Street" with David Bowie, who himself appeared at Wembley Stadium. The video was shown simultaneously on the screens of both Wembley and JFK Stadiums. The song reached number one in the UK the same year. In 1987 he released his second solo album, Primitive Cool. While it failed to match the commercial success of his debut, it was critically well received. In 1988 he produced the songs "Glamour Boys" and "Which Way to America" on Living Colour's album Vivid. Between 1
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Mick Jagger: Wandering Spirit Village Voice, Mar 1993

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HE MAY BE a wandering spirit, but Mick Jagger sure doesn't travel light. This simple fact of life informs both the major tragedies and minor graces of his third solo album, released after numerous delays (due, maybe, to more problems orchestrating the marketing than the music). To proclaim Wandering Spirit (Atlantic) the best thing any Stone has come up with on his own doesn't mean much considering most Stone-alone affairs – from 1972's Jamming With Edward to 1992's jamming with Keith – have been either too awful or too casual to play twice. Wandering Spirit, on the other hand, might almost be a generic third-decade Stones album, despite the absence of the other Stones – who, at last count, were down to three.

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Like the guy who never stops talking about his wife even as he runs off with a woman who looks exactly like her, Jagger and producer Rick Rubin have hired young, if not particularly hot, hands to forge the Stones' signatures on knock-offs of the familiar punk, funk, blues, and camp archetypes. (The role of Billy Preston in this evening's performance will be played by Lenny Kravitz.) In fact, there are few stunts that Jagger, who really sounds as if he just wanted to get out of the chateau and flex his vocal muscles, might not have persuaded his regular partners to perform. If Bill Withers's 'Use Me' might have made them gag, they would have eagerly sucked down the 5 Royales' 'Think', although the lick it's built upon – here lifted from James Brown's definitive cover – is a little scattier and more intricate than anything the Stones generally try to pull off. The dutiful young soldiers Rubin has marshalled can't really resolve the question of the hook, either (it should have been slowed down, not speeded up – and by a drummer who's not a stiff). But Jagger's singing hasn't been this supple or assured since he stopped smoking and got serious about Some Girls at the end of the '70s.

The one tune his best friends might have talked him out of is 'Handsome Molly'. Tacked to the album's end, the traditional pub lament puts an aulde spin on the men-will-be-boys theme that wanders throughout Spirit. Utterly ridiculous as 'Molly' is, it sounds less like a private joke than a public apology to Jerry Hall, who took her side of the story directly to the tabloids last summer. Then again, given that Jagger now advertises himself on the eve of his 50th birthday largely by speaking through the oracle Liz Smith and being photographed with every working model who's patted Donald Trump's rug, his reported fling with professional beauty Carla Bruni was probably as much an attempt to start up some album publicity as some songs. But 'Molly' is the most deliberately corny and utterly English thing Jagger, a man who created himself and his empire in the service of unfathomably hip and insatiably worldly ambitions (unlike Paul McCartney, who's never rejected Lonnie Donegan and is damn proud of it), has ever done in public.

None of which would matter if Wandering Spirit did not insist upon reminding us of everything else Mick Jagger has done. The album is filled with gratuitous references to the Stones' sweetest inspirations and moments of glory: 'Mother of a Man' tries to concoct, with far less wit or conviction, a 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' character and scenario; 'Sweet Thing' shackles 'Miss You' and 'Emotional Rescue' to the Harlem shuffle; 'Don't Tear Me Up' quotes the french horn intro to 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'; 'Angel in My Heart' plays with fire; 'Evening Gown' smells like 'Dead Flowers'. As a rock singer, Jagger's a great actor – too bad he's never had a scene like 'Don't Tear Me Up' in the movies. As a songwriter, he's such a clever bastard that even his mistakes are hummable. And there are production moments here – the horn break and sample on 'Sweet Thing', the country-honk arrangement of 'Evening Gown' – that would probably be anyone else's idea of a masterpiece. But unlike Neil Young, who returned to Harvest to take stock, Jagger doesn't do anything with his rich legacy other than cannibalize it, like any oldies act from here to Westbury.

Of course, there are really no precedents for this kind of career. The popular idols of other eras – Frank Sinatra, say – didn't have to create their own material; great artists – Picasso, say – didn't have to go on tour. If anything, Jagger's best efforts make you realize that he's no more the Rolling Stones than anyone else is or ever will be. What can be gathered from Wandering Spirit is a renewed respect for the peculiarity and the magic of the fragile collaboration that is at the heart of all great rock & roll. Jagger has never been so determined to prove that he doesn't give a fuck while pandering to the audience to previously unimagined extremes. Of course, it's possible that Jagger, crying to the Hallmark angel in his heart, pleading in 'Put Me in the Trash' that he's our "long lost man", or begging 'Hang On to Me Tonight,' is more sincere than he ever was – which only makes him a hell of a lot more frightening now than when he tried to drum up sympathy for the devil.

He was even more frightening on Saturday Night Live three weeks ago and at a "private party" at Webster Hall February 9 (date and location duly broadcast by the oracle). Live, the Wandering band was too awed by Jagger to even make eye contact with the boss – no wonder they never caught the spirit on record. But although he may be the second-hardest working man in show biz, Jagger's not aging as gracefully as either James Brown or Muddy Waters – he's rapidly becoming Marlene Dietrich.

At Webster Hall Jagger ran through highly stylized versions of all his familiar moves, desperately trying to remind us of the object of desire he was at 20; what he looked like stagefront, next to his teleprompter, was less the pansexual nymph of old than the CEO of a shaky conglomerate staunchly determined to restore investor faith. Primping and posing in order that we might forgive Michael Bolton and desperately miss David Johansen, Jagger suddenly seemed a man very much out of time – his narcissism no longer pretty, his chauvinism intolerable, his hedonism hardly liberating, and his "I'm as hard as a brick/Hope I never go limp!" confessions better saved for the prostate man.

Although he refused to give the people what they really wanted (y'know, 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'' 'Start Me Up', 'Honky Tonk Women', 'Freebird'), the Stones' tunes he encored with connected in ways that the Wandering Spirit set didn't – and not because 'Live With Me' and 'Mother's Little Helper' are more familiar than 'Sweet Thing'. Rather, they are filled with the sharp social observations and witty class satires that remind you that this man shook up his world and its culture because he did not merely shake his ass (one suspects the royals may have been doomed the moment the Stones played their debutante parties and refused to know their place). But like those he once skewered so cleverly, all Jagger, now the ultimate professional, really wants to do on Wandering Spirit is protect his turf – whether dictating the terms of interviews, or recycling musical riffs and romantic cliches. Given such fixations, one can't help but remember the famous London Times editorial that once saved Jagger's ass from jail, if only so future generations might see him, as he appears on the cover of his newest opus, create the illusion of getting out of bed with himself. It asked: "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" To which Wandering Spirit forces us to reply: And who watches that butterfly go around and around?

Coming Under The Thumb: Mick Jagger You, Sep 1987

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"You have to set an example," says the middle-aged father of four. But can this really be the drug-taking, rebellious, orgiastic Mick Jagger speaking? It is – and there’s more...

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Twenty-five years ago this summer the Rolling Stones took to the stage for the first time, playing a set learned from old blues records. "I hope they don’t think we’re a rock’n’roll outfit," a worried Mick Jagger told Jazz News beforehand. But they were to become a rock’n’roll outfit – the greatest in the world some would claim – and certainly by the time of their celebrated album Beggars Banquet (1968) were articulating the sexual, moral and spiritual gropings which characterised the Baby Boomers.

"We went through a lot of changes before we got to Beggars Banquet. We went through a lot of odd things to get there," Jagger says now.

A lot of odd things. A lot of very odd things. It’s impossible to look at Jagger and not remember them. It began with long hair and wee-wees up garage walls and ended in violence, heroin addiction and death. "It was the exploration of the other side of the psyche, I suppose," he says. "Letting yourself go. It’s very dangerous if you just let yourself go adrift, especially if you start using drugs to do it. You have to be a strong person; you think you’re the one that can survive, and that’s probably not true."

Jagger, 44, has done well not only to have survived but to have emerged healthy, wealthy and shrewd. He’s a wiry old bird, who jogs and lifts to stay skinny and energetic ("running is deadly dull. I prefer team sports"), with only his sagging facial skin letting you know he’s got a story or two to tell. But when he grins or sings, both of which he does a lot, even that loose flesh disappears into charming brackets around his mouth, and he could be 19 all over again.

He is sitting in the terraced Chelsea house which the Rolling Stones maintain as an office. He answers questions in his famous idiot pop-singer drawl which is bolted together with lots of "nahs", "yeahs", "dunnos" and "yer knows", very often slowing down into a mumble. Sentences that appear to be steaming towards significant conclusions inexplicably break into dots...

He’s no dummy, though. Behind the huge flashing grin which he uses to disarm interrogators is a mind clocking over the impact of every paragraph. For newspapers of a certain reputation he’s happy to confess his sexual athleticism and make jokes about Jerry Hall’s suspenders, but when I ask whether unfaithfulness is one of the things he’s given up for the sake of his young children, he appears momentarily shocked. "That’s a loaded question for the Mail On Sunday!" he yelps. "I’m not going to answer that one. I’ll pass on it. No, I don’t want to get into all that. It’s too personal."

His new record, part co-written and co-produced with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and featuring Jeff Beck on guitar, is his second solo venture in three years; his new tour his first without the Rolling Stones. After knowing each other for more than 35 years, Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richard have fallen out. They’re not even on speaking terms. "We’ve had a very rocky time these last few years," he admits, without detailing the tiffs. "And making music is not like any other job. You have to be in harmony."

The last group record, Dirty Work, was a Keith Richard project with vocals grudgingly added by Jagger. When it came to promoting it, the singer was noticeably not around. When plans for the accompanying tour were floated, he was the one who passed. Live Aid appeared to confirm the split, with Richard, burning cigarette between teeth, backing up Bob Dylan on acoustic guitar while Jagger bared his chest and bumped groins with Tina Turner.

"I suppose as you grow older you develop you own ideas, or your own way of doing things," says Jagger vaguely. So suddenly, in mid-life, he finds their approaches incompatible? "These things don’t suddenly happen," he explains. "Perhaps you just aren’t able to deal with them as much, or you run out of patience with each other.

"I think Keith sees the Rolling Stones very much as a conservative rock’n’roll band with very strong traditions, and as he gets older his ideas have become more conservative. I see it that way too, but his traditional view is so strong that I can’t function only within that. I used to tell people that I would never need to make a solo album because I could do whatever I wanted to do within the band, but I think it started to get narrower so I no longer felt that, I like to be a bit more open-minded about things."

The Live Aid splash with Tina Turner was probably an indication of where Jagger sees himself going. A rock’n’roll band, like the Stones, is expected to live up to its past, to stay faithful to certain attitudes, but if you’re Tina Turner you’re asked for nothing more than a good show. Leaving the Stones behind could unburden him of an awful lot of history.

It’s tempting to paint the middle-aged Jagger as a man finally come to his senses; the Stone who’s finally stopped rolling; the drug-taking, rebellious, orgiastic Mick reforming into a pram-pushing family man who occasionally emerges from the hearth-side to rub shoulders with Princess Margaret at society gatherings.

But he is, after all, the father of three illegitimate children, a man who still resists the call of the altar and who confesses to "definitely not" being completely heterosexual. Is he proud of what he did in the ’60s? "Like pissing on a garage wall?" he asks, brightening. That wasn’t him, was it? "No, actually, it wasn’t. It’s become so kind of mixed up that I can hardly remember. No, I can’t say I’m proud of everything. That’s just too blanket a statement."

Were things pushed too far? As a father himself, does he now wish some things had been left as they were? "Oh no. I can’t subscribe to this revisionist view," he says dismissively. "Not all of it was right, but I never went fully along with the idea of the drug culture being the saving of mankind. Those were euphoric moments that people had but I never thought that those things could..." The voice tails off.

The biggest changes are in his party habits – the sheer recklessness has been curtailed. "I think to go on behaving like you were nineteen is ridiculous," he says. "I’m not saying you can’t do it once in a while, but I think to behave like you are nineteen all the time is absurd."

How would Jagger describe his modified behaviour? "You have to be more..." the dots loom and he takes another run-up. "It’s just ... responsibility changes you. There’s a time and place for doing those things and acting crazy and so on. It doesn’t mean that you want to become totally sober and never have a good time and always frown, but on the other hand, you can’t act with total irresponsibility." Why not? "Because ... I think children change you very much."

How have they changed him? "You have to set an example," he says. "You have to be thoughtful for their well-being and so on and it doesn’t allow you to just act up all the time. Also, as you get older you want to move along a little bit. You don’t want to stay out every night sitting in nightclubs. You’ve done all that. You don’t want to go picking up girls every night. You want a different way of life."

In ‘Primitive Cool’, the title song of the new album, he imagines being quizzed about his past role. "Did you walk cool in the ’60s daddy/And did you fight in the war?" "My children don’t ask me that," he says. "They’d probably be too bored. But other people do. They want to know what it was actually like to be there. I’m always asking my father what it was like before the Second World War. How did it all feel when the world was drifting towards this terrible, inescapable ... er... What was the psyche at the time?"

The temperature has changed somewhat since the Rolling Stones ruled the roost. "Not as anarchic, certainly," Jagger agrees. Rock stars campaign against heroin and for safe sex. Violence and self-indulgence are no longer such good selling points except for one-offs like the self-consciously rude Beastie Boys. Everyone supports a charity. This year’s challengers for the title of "greatest rock’n’roll band in the world" are U2, a band characterised by radical Christian values. But Jagger puts that down to their Irishness rather than to a new mood. "England is only nominally a Christian country. Ireland is a Christian country and a religious country. It’s tremendously different."


*

Does he accept that there has been a reaction against the sort of permissive lifestyle he was for so long happy to be identified with? "Oh well, yeah, a re-action." He draws the word out as though he doesn’t approve of it. "But how do you measure permissiveness? I mean, it’s not measured by the front pages of newspapers or AIDS scares.

"If you’re talking about literature it’s probably more permissive now than ever. Pornography is more readily available. There are videos you can take home. There’s less censorship of plays and films. Sexually, I have no idea because you’d have to take the mean. How many people does a 25-year-old sleep with in a year? I don’t know what the answer is but I suspect that it’s not a lot different to the early ’70s. It might be more."

Slight adjustments of attitude are detectable on Primitive Cool. Instead of the whip coming down or girls squirming under his thumb, there’s the loner who is "incurably romantic". The opening track, ‘Throwaway’, is the confession of a backstage Lothario who’s found a love "Much too good to ever throw away". It sounds like the story of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall. "I can imagine it being about Jerry," he says teasingly, "but it might not be".

His two children by Jerry, Elizabeth (three) and James (two) have made him the family man he never was with his older daughters Karis and Jade. "It’s funny having two so close together," he says. "They’re wonderful. They make me laugh."

It seems the perfect material life. A townhouse in New York, a small chateau outside Paris and a home in the Caribbean. He has his health, a beautiful girlfriend, children, talent, sexual magnetism, money, recognition and a place in history. Is he happy? "Yeah. Happy..." He mulls over the idea. "There is a certain pride or satisfaction in those things. Having the lawnmower you want is really wonderful. Then the question is, what are you doing this for?

"These things are important but they’re not the goal of life. There are more important things. Men and women like work. A lot of human grasping seems illusory but that’s what seems to drive people on. It’s illusory to get that job you always wanted when you were nineteen because when you get it you say, ah, what the hell. Or you want to become a rock star like Elvis and then you become one and you go, oh well."

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Goddess In The Doorway

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Wandering Spirit

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She's the Boss

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God gave me everything

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Sweet Thing

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Memo From Turner

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Visions Of Paradise

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Joy

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Just Another Night

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Don't Tear Me Up

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