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Sunday 16 June 2019

Sympathy for the Devil - the many loves of Mick Jagger

With The Rolling Stones eagerly awaited gig in Croke Park in May, Barry Egan looks at the many loves of Mick Jagger: a man who, despite the song, has been getting satisfaction for over 50 years

Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
Model Jerry Hall and musician Mick Jagger are seen on the beach February 18, 1987 in Barbados. (Photo by Georges DeKeerle/Getty Images)
Mick and Bianca Jagger
Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull
L'Wren Scott and Sir Mick Jagger, pictured in 2012 (AP)

Figuring out the Byzantine complexity of Mr Mick Jagger will not be achieved in his lifetime. A therapist whom the singer had an affair with, Natasha Terry, ventured the professional opinion that "he's like a sex vampire. Being with all these different people makes him feel young and gives him all this energy. He can't stay faithful. He has to get that satisfaction from bedding a lot of women at the same time." Perhaps, as in his most famous song, Mick Jagger at the deepest Freudian level, can't get no satisfaction, physically nor psychologically. . .

Feminist analysis of Jagger was that he was King Leer, a misogynist monster in excelsis. Camille Paglia was once denounced by women's rights groups and academia for taking "too soft a line" on the Rolling Stone anti-women song Under My Thumb. Like Elvis before him, Jagger, as one writer put it, was "the most self-consciously assured appropriator of black performers' up-front sexuality". Off-stage, that sexuality was if anything even more assured. One of the biggest and most charismatic rock stars in the history of the music industry, Jagger had affairs - or backstage romps that would have even made Caligula blush - with a litany of beautiful women, who were often as quickly discarded as he acquired them when the star grew bored with their attentions. One of his conquests in 1966 was a French actress by the name of Brigitte Bardot who shared a moment of so-called intimacy with Jagger in a broom cupboard before a Stones show. That same year, Tina Turner also enjoyed the same self-styled Jagger love-making before a Stones show in Bristol - where Tina and her husband Ike were also on the bill. Legend has it that later that evening Jagger was to spend the night with Marianne Faithfull for the first time.

In 1969, Jagger might have famously sung "can't always get what you want" - allegedly a riposte to a music producer who was looking for a pay rise - but he clearly didn't believe a word of it.

Then, or since.

Model Jerry Hall and musician Mick Jagger are seen on the beach February 18, 1987 in Barbados. (Photo by Georges DeKeerle/Getty Images)
Model Jerry Hall and musician Mick Jagger are seen on the beach February 18, 1987 in Barbados. (Photo by Georges DeKeerle/Getty Images)

His life has been a testament to self, a homage to him; his mission statement being that when you are that rich and famous you can always get what you want. And with any beautiful woman that your heart, or any other part of your body, desires.

Jagger The Shagger has claimed to have been to bed with more than 4,000 women.

And counting.

This detail was reportedly relayed to Carla Bruni, with whom he had a (not very) clandestine affair in the mid 1990s when he was ''married'' to Jerry Hall. She once discovered a coded message from Carla to Mick. When Jerry held up the message to a mirror, the words popped out: "I'll be your mistress for ever." When Jerry and Carla met by accident in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton in Paris, the Texan rounded on the Italian supermodel - calling her in her best southern drawl, worthy of a Tennessee Williams play, a tramp: "Why can't you leave my husband alone?"

"Tell your husband to leave me alone!" shouted back the 24-year-old Italian-born model who, wrote Vanity Fair magazine, "may or may not have broken up Mick Jagger's 15-year union with Jerry Hall". Whatever the reason, the latter began divorce proceedings in 1999 on the grounds of "multiple adultery". (Jagger did not exactly cover himself with glory when he released a statement to the effect that they were never officially married - the ceremony, officiated over by a Hindu priest on the Indonesian island of Bali in 1990, was not recognised in law. Be that as it may, Jerry - who had four children with Jagger: Georgia May, Elizabeth, James, and Gabriel - got 10m quid in cash and the mansion in Richmond outside London. Jerry (who was engaged to Roxy Music superstar Bryan Ferry when she defected to Mick in 1977) could hardly claim to be shocked at Jagger's infidelities. When Jagger set his sights on her he was still married to Bianca Jagger. As Jerry well knew, Jagger had a penchant for jaw-dropping, traffic-stopping and often youthful beauties - Uma Thurman, Madonna, Sophie Dahl, Minnie Driver, Carly Simon, even Princess Margaret, allegedly, among them - as well as a well-earned reputation for being a tomcatting ladies' man. When I interviewed Jerry in London in July, 2012, I asked did her mother never warn her about what she was letting herself in for? Jerry (who, of course, is now married to fine young thing Rupert Murdoch) told me over lunch in the Langham Hotel: "She said, 'You should never marry or be with a man who is a womaniser because you'll never be happy. You'll always suffer'. And she was right!" Jerry, from Mesquite, laughed in reply.

At what point in all his many dalliances with other women did Jerry think: ''This is enough, this is one humiliation too far''?

Mick and Bianca Jagger
Mick and Bianca Jagger

"When he had a baby with someone else," Jerry replied to me in reference to the international front page news in 1999 that Jagger had got Brazilian model Luciana Morad pregnant. "Then I did get a divorce." Have the wounds healed? Has Jerry long since realised she and Mick were better off not to be married and better off as friends? "I don't remember anything. It is really weird." Like a car crash she walked away from? "Yeah, like amnesia. I've just got that kind of weird memory. It is very strange. There must be something wrong with my brain."

There is nothing wrong with her ex's libido, however, which seems to be showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 74. Jagger had a child (Deveraux Octavian Basil) last year with his 29-year-old ballerina girlfriend Melanie Hamrick. With eight children with five women, he possibly sees himself as an ageless Jumping Jack Flash until mortality informs him otherwise. Journalist Julie Burchill (who has a poisonous pen) once said of Jagger that he was not so much Jumping Jack Flash as Limping Hack Trash. He had no moral qualms about limping into the bed of his best friend's girlfriend. Jagger was alleged to have had a fling with Keith Richards's then-other-half Anita Pallenberg during the filming of Nicolas Roeg's Performance in 1968. One of the more unavoidably apocryphal tales was that the sex scenes in the movie between Jagger and Anita gave new meaning to the term method acting - so much so that an extended scene won an award in a porn festival in Holland. Whatever the truth, Jagger told a Stones employee, Tom Keylock, at the time that he loved Anita and was not letting her go. Such a scenario would have broken up the biggest band in the world at that time (The Beatles were falling apart, legally and publicly.) In the early 1970s, tensions between Jagger's then-wife Bianca and Keith's girlfriend, the aforesaid Ms Pallenberg, were never less than high. Bianca claimed that Anita had more influence in the band than she did. She was not wrong. During the recording of The Stones's sprawling masterpiece Exile On Main Street at a 19th century mansion in France in 1970, "Anita on heroin," claimed one of the many books about The Stones, "hurled a plate of spaghetti against the walls of the mansion. Everyone pretended it didn't happen - fearing things would escalate. The spaghetti was left splattered against the wall drying like a piece of modern art." Many of the women in Jagger's life were left in a similar state of disarray, emotionally.

Michael Philip Jagger was born on July 23, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, to PE teacher Basil Fanshawe Jagger and his schoolteacher wife Eva Ensley Mary Scutts. On October 17, 1961, Mick met Keith Richards, a year his junior, on platform two of Dartford Station. On July 12, 1962, their band the Rolling Stones - named after a Muddy Waters song - played their first show at the Marquee in London. Coming out in June, 1963, their first single, a cover of Chuck Berry's Come On was the beginning that saw (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction become their first world wide number 1 in May 1965; soon followed by Paint It, Black in 1966 and the ballad Ruby Tuesday in 1967. The Stones would go on to sell more than 300 million albums and sell out stadia for fun across the planet to this day.

Despite all the fallouts, Mick and Keith Richards have stayed together, like a bad marriage. They were very alike; yet in many ways nothing like each other. Not for Jagger were the Class A proclivities once favoured by his colleague in the band that helped change the culture of the modern world (a band which are coming to Dublin in May for quite possibly the show of the year). This was probably because Richards' use of heroin in the 1970s effectively put paid to his sex life; which would have been a living death for narcissistic self-proclaimed sex-god Mr Jagger. (Not least when his one-time squeeze Ms Bruni once said that he was "incredible in bed".) The Dionysian life has taken its toll on Keith's manhood.

"Heroin is not what you'd call an aphrodisiac," Richards told Sabotage Times in 2012. "With heroin, everything else goes on the back-burner, and that includes sex. You have to remember that being a junkie is a boring way of life. You don't wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and start singing Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'."

After his relationship with Bruni ended badly (plus ca change), Jagger swiftly shifted his attention to a young actress: Angelina Jolie.

L'Wren Scott and Sir Mick Jagger, pictured in 2012 (AP)
L'Wren Scott and Sir Mick Jagger, pictured in 2012 (AP)

"She scares me a little - I like that," Jagger apparently said.

The relationship (with an increasingly hysterical Jerry Hall, pregnant with their fourth child, in the middle) dragged on and off, for two years. It was, apparently, when Angelina couldn't join him in Brazil for an assignation that Jagger sought carnal comfort with the comely charms of six-foot Brazilian model Luciana Morad. Jagger's Dionysian life eventually took its toll on him when Morad became pregnant with his child Lucas Maurice Morad Jagger, and Hall, having finally had enough, filed for divorce. Hard to comprehend how Mick had the mental and libidinal energy to keep Carla Bruni, Angelina Jolie, a Brazilian super model, doubtless other liaisons in the background, and wife Jerry Hall on the go at the same time. But that's exactly what Jagger did. He was no stranger, however, to keeping women on the go at the same time throughout his life.

Jagger's first significant relationship was with Chrissie Shrimpton, model and sister of Jean, from 1963 to 1966. He had already been cheating on Shrimpton with English singer Marianne Faithfull. Jagger's four-year relationship with her was messy in the extreme. Jagger had cheated on fragile Marianne with her best friend, Anita Pallenberg, among many other women, and with American singer Marsha Hunt (with whom Jagger would have a child, Karis.).

When Jagger left Faithfull not long after she had a miscarriage in Ireland with Jagger's child, Marianne slowly if inevitably was to fall apart. The convent-educated girl now had a hard drugs problem, to say nothing of anorexia and nervous breakdowns, for 15 years after.

There is yet another apocryphal story that Marianne said the words "wild horses couldn't drag me away" as she grimly came out of a drug coma in 1969 - which allegedly supplied her then beau Mr Jagger with a famous line for the Stones classic, Wild Horses for the Sticky Fingers album.

On May 12, 1971 in St Tropez, Jagger married his pregnant - with Jade Jagger - Nicaraguan model girlfriend Bianca Perez Moreno de Macias. ("My marriage ended on my wedding day", Bianca said of her husband's wandering ways, filing for divorce in 1979 upon discovering Jagger's affair with Jerry Hall).

Jagger and Hall started their relationship in 1977 when Jagger's attentions resulted in Hall ending her relationship with her fiancé Bryan Ferry, who has never spoken to her since.

The saddest part of Jagger's life was undoubtedly his relationship with enigmatic fashion designer L'Wren Scott. He met her in 2001. They appeared so happy together until her apparent suicide in March 2014 at her New York apartment. It wasn't long before Jagger was consoling himself with a young ballerina much less than half his age. Sympathy for the devil in the bedroom?

The Rolling Stones play Croke Park, Dublin, on May 17


* Born in 1941, the son of a British Rail lorry driver, Stones drummer the ultra-stoic Charlie Watts, married Shirley in the late 1960s and had a daughter, Seraphina. They are officially the least rock 'n' roll married couple in the music industry. Shirley once said how Charlie still tells her he loves her every single day. Asked was it love at first sight, Charlie replied: "Well, it was obviously very sexual, and I suppose that's love as well. I just wanted her, I suppose. She was so funny and clever, and she had the most infectious laugh you'd ever heard. And I loved the world she was in, the world of art and sculpting. I just admired Shirley very, very much. I still do."

* Now 74 years of age, death-defying Keith Richards - who dated the legendary and original rock chick Anita Pallenberg through his many drug addiction years from 1967 until 1980 and had three kids together: Marlon, Tara Jo Jo, (Tara died from sudden infant death syndrome at the age of two months in 1976)and Angela. He has been married since 1983 to the model Patti Hansen. They live a life of drug-free domestic bliss on their farm in Weston, Connecticut with their kids Theodora and Alexandra.

* Born on June 1, 1947, Keith's sidekick in The Stones, 'new boy' Ronnie Wood married Sally Humphreys, 31 years his junior, on December 21, 2012. Rod Stewart was best man. Ronnie and Sally have twin girls, Gracie Jane and Alice Rose, born on May 30, 2016. In 2008, he and long-term wife Jo divorced. They have two children together: Leah and Tyrone. Another child, Jamie, was adopted by Ronnie after Jo left his father, Peter Greene, while Jo helped raise Jesse, Ronnie's son from his mid-60s marriage to Krissy Findlay.

Last year Ronnie, who once was a reckless user of hard drugs like, and often with, Keith Richards, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had part of a lung removed, but like a true Rolling Stone would not have chemotherapy because he did not want to say goodbye to his famous spiky bird-nest barnet.

It's only rock 'n' roll but, clearly, they like it, like it, yes they do.

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