Sunday 26 October 2014

The day Mick Jagger suddenly looked his age

The Rolling Stone's life entered calmer waters when he met L'Wren Scott, who tragically committed suicide this week. How will he cope without her?

L'Wren Scott at one of her fashion launches with Mick Jagger just last November
L’Wren Scott with actress Sarah Jessica Parker
L'Wren Scott at a museum benefit with Mick Jagger

If there is one theme to the later life of Mick Jagger it is the search for, and attainment of, control. The lyrics of the Rolling Stones may speak to the wild of heart, but the grammar school boy from England prefers to rely on his head in matters professional.

Stage management is the key – but not only on the stage. Jagger has been supervising the finances of the Stones since his late twenties and a string of divorce settlements have failed to put a serious dent in a fortune estimated at £200m (€240m). That acumen extends to his persona.

Read interviews with rock and roll's greatest frontman and you sense the restrictions hemming in his hapless interrogators. Encounters are brief and choreographed, finessed by a seasoned public relations operation. Interviewers are tossed a few scraps of personal revelation, but nothing compared with the titanic backlog of juicy material available. The singer's status demands an easy ride, and he usually gets it.

At the age of 70, Mick still likes being at the top. His appetite for touring, for the adulation of the crowd, appears to be undiminished. The singer holds back the years through sheer force of will, shunning excess and late nights and applying his face creams, portraying the look of a man 20 years his junior. After half a century of use, the 28in waist and gyrating hips remain miraculously intact.

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L'Wren Scott at a museum benefit with Mick Jagger

But this week Jagger suddenly looks his age. The years, for so long held in abeyance, have piled up on that unruly face as the reality of a terrible event has hit home.

On Monday, Jagger was dining at a restaurant in the Australian city of Perth, venue of the next Stones concert, when he learnt from an assistant that L'Wren Scott, his partner of 13 years, had hanged herself in her apartment in New York, just an hour or so earlier.

Across the time zones the news filtered in of a last call by the 49-year-old fashion designer to an assistant, that assistant's arrival at the apartment, and a terrible discovery.

'I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way," wrote Jagger this week.

The concert was cancelled and Jagger was expected to take off for New York, having postponed the Stones' tour of Australia and New Zealand. Suddenly, all attention was focused on the woman who had for more than a decade walked in Jagger's shadow, despite towering over him by more than half a foot in actual stature.

A Utah girl, raised by adoptive parents, Ms Scott shrugged off smalltown life to build a career in modelling, then design. Hollywood's leading women relied on her for their Oscar-night gowns and cocktail dresses, and she was an intimate of the tight-knit elite at the head of international fashion.

The idea that her position might owe something to the identity of her consort pained a woman who was clearly committed to hard work and independent success.

"I've never in my life been hired for who I know, only for what I can do," she once said.

L’Wren Scott with actress Sarah Jessica Parker

Nevertheless, it was for her relationship with Jagger that she was known to readers of magazines. Scott met Mick following the dissolution of his marriage to Jerry Hall, mother to four of his seven children. As Hall graciously pointed out, Scott appeared more able to handle Jagger and his requirement, even in his autumn years, for personal independence.

A womaniser for much of his life, whose sexual career fully merited the overworked adjective 'legendary', Jagger had to his credit a string of failed marriages. There was plenty of extramarital chaos to go with them. Two of the singer's early girlfriends, Chrissie Shrimpton, sister of the model Jean, and singer Marianne Faithfull took overdoses while with him but survived.

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