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Mick Jagger
Born Jul 26, 1943
 

 


As the lead singer for the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger is one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll. Jagger fronted the Rolling Stones for over 20 years before he began a solo career in 1985. At the time of the release of his debut solo album, She's the Boss, it appeared that the Stones may have been approaching the end of their career, but it soon transpired that Jagger's solo career would run concurrently with that of the band's. Over the next decade, he released a string of solo albums, none of which achieved the commercial success of the Stones' less popular releases.

Born Michael Phillip Jagger on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, England, he initially met future musical collaborator and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards while the pair were five years old at primary school, although they would lose contact with each other shortly thereafter. In the intervening years, Jagger discovered a love for music, especially early rock & roll (forming a high school band, Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys), as well as developing an interest in business, attending the London School of Economics.

In his late teens, Jagger happened to bump into Richards once again (while the two were waiting on a train platform), and when Richards noticed Jagger had several blues records under his arm, they became friends again and started up the Rolling Stones shortly thereafter. The band (which also included second guitarist Brian Jones, bassist Bill Wyman, and drummer Charlie Watts), merged the rock & roll of Chuck Berry with the raw blues of Muddy Waters, creating a style that would be infinitely copied by others in its wake. By the late '60s, the Rolling Stones were rivaling the Beatles as the world's most popular rock band (with their second guitarist slot rotating from time to time), issuing such classic singles as "Paint It Black," "Time Is on My Side," "Get Off of My Cloud," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and others. In 1968, they began a string of albums that would go down as some of rock's most quintessential and enduring albums ever recorded - 1968's Beggar's Banquet, 1969's Let It Bleed, 1970's Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, 1971's Sticky Fingers, and 1972's Exile on Main Street.

During this time, Jagger also tried his hand at acting in movies, landing roles in such flicks as Performance and Ned Kelly (both from 1970). Jagger also became a renowned playboy and jet setter among other celebrities. As a result (as well as the Stones' escalating drug abuse), the quality of the Stones' music began to suffer -- while they remained one of the world's top concert draws and beloved bands, they issued albums of varying quality from the mid-'70s through the early '80s. Around this time, Jagger and Keith Richards conflicted over the musical direction of the band. Jagger wanted to move the band in a more pop and dance-oriented direction while Richards wanted to stay true to the band's rock & roll and blues roots. By 1984, Jagger had begun recording a solo album where he pursued a more mainstream, dance-inflected pop direction. The resulting album, She's the Boss, was released in 1985. Jagger filmed a number of state-of-the-art videos for the album, which all received heavy airplay from MTV, helping propel the record's first single, "Just Another Night," to number 12 and the album to platinum status. "Lucky in Love," the second single from the album scraped the bottom of the Top 40. In the summer of 1985, Jagger and David Bowie recorded a cover of Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street" for the Live Aid organization. The single peaked at number seven on the U.S. pop charts; all the proceeds from its sale were donated to Live Aid.

Around the same time the Rolling Stones released their 1986 album, Dirty Work, Jagger released the theme song from the movie Ruthless People as a single and told Richards that the Stones would not tour to support Dirty Work. For the next few years, Jagger and Richards barely spoke to each other and sniped at the other in the press. During this time, Jagger tried to make his solo career as successful as the Rolling Stones, pouring all of his energy into his second solo album, 1987's Primitive Cool. Although the album received stronger reviews than She's the Boss, only one of the singles -- "Let's Work" -- scraped the bottom of the Top 40 and the record didn't go gold.

Following the commercial failure of Primitive Cool, Jagger returned to the fold of the Rolling Stones in 1989, recording, releasing, and touring the Steel Wheels album. Steel Wheels was a massively successful venture and after the tour was completed, the Stones entered a slow period, where each of the members pursued solo projects. Jagger recorded his third solo album with Rick Rubin, who had previously worked with the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The resulting solo album, Wandering Spirit, was released in 1993 and received the strongest reviews of any of Jagger's solo efforts. The album entered the U.S. charts at number 11 and went gold the year it was released. A year after the release of Wandering Spirit, the Stones reunited and released Voodoo Lounge, supporting the album with another extensive international tour. During the '90s, Jagger also resumed his movie acting career, with roles in Freejack (1992), Bent (1997), and The Man From Elysian Fields (2001).

In 1997, the Stones regrouped for another new album, Bridges to Babylon, and a subsequent tour of stadiums worldwide. 2001 saw the release of Jagger's first solo album in nearly ten years, titled Goddess in the Doorway, which included guest appearances from such rock big names as Pete Townshend, Bono, Lenny Kravitz, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot, Joe Perry, Wyclef Jean, and Rob Thomas.

In addition to his work with the Rolling Stones and solo releases, Jagger has guested on albums by a wide variety of other artists -- the Jacksons, Peter Tosh, Carly Simon, Dr. John, and Living Colour, among others (the latter he helped discover and produced part of their hit debut album, Vivid).

 

 

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Born Michael Philip Jagger on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, Kent, England; son of Joe (a physical education instructor) and Eva Jagger; married Bianca Perez Morena de Macias, May 12, 1971 (divorced, 1980); married Jerry Hall (a model), November 21, 1990 (annulled, July 9, 1999); children: (with Marsha Hunt) Karis (daughter, born 1970); (with de Macias) Jade (daughter, born 1971); (with Hall) Elizabeth Scarlett, James (born 1985), Georgia May Ayeesha (born January 1992), Gabriel Luke Beauregard (born 1997); (with Lucia Morad) Lucas Jagger; two grandchildren. Education: Attended London School of Economics. Addresses: Record company--Virgin Records Ltd., 553-579 Harrow Rd., London W10 4RH, England, website: http://www.vmg.co.uk. Website--Mick Jagger Official Website: http://www.mickjagger.com.

In a career spanning more than four decades, Mick Jagger has been characterized in many ways--from rock and roll's most demonic performer to one of its keenest business minds. In addition to his years as front man for what has been called "The World's Greatest Rock Band," Jagger has also recorded several solo projects and also tackled an on-again-off-again acting career as well as started a film and television production company. His personal life has also been in the spotlight--a microscope, if you will.

The snarling, strutting lead singer of the Rolling Stones spent his early life in conventional, middle-class style, working hard in school and participating enthusiastically in sports. In 1962, he went to the London School of Economics to study for a career in business. There he met up with art student and guitarist Keith Richards, whom he had known when the two were 5-year-olds attending school in Dartford, England. They discovered a mutual love of rhythm and blues and were quickly caught up in the musical revolution then sweeping England. After moving into a flat in Chelsea with guitarist Brian Jones, they began planning their own rock and roll band while Jagger prudently continued his business courses.

Their first public appearance was a spur-of-the-moment, unpaid show at a tiny jazz club called the Marquee. They had no name for their group, but impulsively decided to call themselves "Brian Jones and Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones" after the title of a favorite Muddy Waters song. Jagger, Jones, and Richards later added drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman. By 1963, though, they had begun to find their audience, the lineup solidified, and their popularity grew rapidly; by 1964 two different polls had named them England's most popular group, outranking even the Beatles.


A Reputation for Rebellion

"In the beginning it was frightening," Jagger recalled to a Newsweek reporter. "It was dangerous.... We'd only do half an hour and then [the audience would] scream for half an hour and some of them would faint." By 1965 the Rolling Stones had stopped playing clubs in favor of large concert venues, and Jagger had quit economics school to devote himself full time to life as a Stone. The band's first recordings drew heavily on the music of their favorite performers, including Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, but Jagger and Richards soon began collaborative songwriting and developed their own sound. Their first international hit, "Satisfaction," stands today as their signature song. It was considered the perfect expression of the defiant, raunchy image they seemed to be deliberately cultivating, perhaps to differentiate themselves from the comparatively wholesome Beatles and their many imitators.

"I wasn't trying to be rebellious in those days," Jagger insisted, as quoted by Stephen Schiff in a 1992 Vanity Fair profile. "I was just being me. I wasn't trying to push the edge of anything. I'm being me and ordinary, the guy from suburbia who sings in this band, but someone older might have thought it was just the most awful racket, the most terrible thing, and where are we going if this is music?... But all those songs we sang were pretty tame, really. People didn't think they were, but I thought they were tame."

On the strength of such albums as December's Children, Aftermath, and Between the Buttons, Jagger and the Rolling Stones rose to the top, but their unsavory reputation led them into trouble with the law. In 1967 Jagger and two bandmates were arrested for drug offenses and given unusually harsh sentences. Jagger was handed three months for possession of four over-the-counter pep pills he had purchased in Italy. The punishment was eventually reduced, but their legal battles and internal conflicts seemed to leave the Stones demoralized. In 1967 they released Their Satanic Majesties Request, an album many critics dismissed as a flabby, pretentious attempt to copy the psychedelia of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.


Embarked on Solo Ventures

For the first time, Jagger began to look for creative outlets outside the group, playing lead roles in the films Performance and Ned Kelly. Reviews of his dramatic portrayals were mixed, but several critics expressed a certain fascination with the surly sexuality he projected on the screen, a style that became central to the performer's unique persona. "Before Mick Jagger," noted Schiff, "sexual iconography had reached a point that was both apotheosis and dead end.... Perhaps the enormous re-evaluation of sex and sexuality that dominated the sixties and seventies--the long hair, the unisex fashions, the so-called sexual revolution--would have taken place without him, but Mick Jagger's charged androgyny now looks at the very least hugely influential, and probably catalytic."

The Rolling Stones remained together, reestablishing their standing in 1968 with Beggar's Banquet. Let It Bleed, another classic, followed in 1969, the same year the band toured the United States after a three-year absence. They were met in city after city by frantic, hysterical audiences. A free concert was planned near San Francisco, California, as a way of thanking U.S. fans for their support. The ill-organized event turned nightmarish when a gang of Hell's Angels--hired by the Stones to provide security--attacked the crowd violently, beating one spectator to death. To the further detriment of the band's reputation, the murder was inadvertently captured on film and released to the general public as part of the documentary Gimme Shelter.

The Stones stayed away from North America until 1972, but upon their return, they were met with as much enthusiasm as ever. Jack Batten praised Jagger in the Toronto Globe and Mail as "the single most exciting performer at work at this moment. He is charismatic, dynamic, glorious, riveting." Gradually, the media began to cast the Stones as superstars rather than outlaws. Each album they released was a sure bestseller, if not always a critical success. Though they continued to rock as hard as ever, the rise of the punk rock movement made the Stones's once outrageous behavior seem comparatively tame. Jagger recalled in Rolling Stone that the band lost "the whole idea of pushing the envelope open a little bit. We became a hard-rock band, and we became very content with it.... We lost a little bit of sensitivity and adventure."

That loss of adventure brought a sense of boredom and restlessness. Dissension among the Stones became quite intense, and Jagger and Richards began to snipe openly at each other in the rock press. Both eventually turned to solo projects. Jagger released the LP She's the Boss in 1985 and Primitive Cool in 1987; the albums had disappointing sales and Anthony DeCurtis noted in Rolling Stone that the songs "ranged from bad to ordinary."


Despite Dissention, Stones Rocked On

The Rolling Stones joined up again to record Dirty Work in 1986, but Jagger refused to tour to support the album, a decision that infuriated Richards. Many fans predicted a Rolling Stones breakup, yet in May of 1988 Richards and Jagger set aside their differences to discuss the possibility of a new album and tour. Later that year they went to Barbados to begin writing new songs for Steel Wheels. Released in 1989, it was praised as "the best Rolling Stones album in at least a decade" by David Fricke in Rolling Stone. Both the album and the band's subsequent tour were widely touted as proof that the Stones were still a vital musical force. DeCurtis declared: "All the ambivalence, recriminations, attempted rapprochements and psychological one-upmanship evident on Steel Wheels testify that the Stones are right in the element that has historically spawned their best music--a murky, dangerously charged environment.... Against all odds, and at this late date, the Stones have once again generated an album that will have the world dancing to deeply troubling, unresolved emotions."


Starred in Freejack

In February of 1992, after nearly 30 productive years in the music business, Jagger was at work on a third solo album and on the verge of signing a new three-record contract with Atlantic Records. "Doing a solo album, it's more relaxed than doing the Rolling Stones," Jagger admitted in to Schiff in Vanity Fair. "With a solo album, no one's going to get on my case. It's just free and easy." The singer also returned to his acting career, starring in a science fiction film set in the year 2009, called Freejack. Though he has proven himself as a prolific solo performer, Jagger acknowledges the profound influence of his many years with the Rolling Stones. He told Schiff, "You know, I'm still me.... It's still going to sound like me. I'm the singer of the Rolling Stones. I can't completely change."

According to All Music Guide, none of his solo releases have yet "achieved the commercial success of the Stones' less popular releases." But Mick persevered with his own projects when the Stones were not recording or touring.

Wandering Spirit, released in 1993, was produced by Rick Rubin, well known for his production work with Johnny Cash among other artists. To date that album, according to All Music Guide, remains the best received among his solo projects. It also entered the charts at a strong number 11 spot and earned a gold album.

Maclean's Brian D. Johnson described the album as, "a rich, eclectic cabaret of Jagger's talents, the album skips through rock, funk, country and blues. It even includes a sea shanty." Jagger told Johnson he likes the opportunity to do solo work, "It's quite a lot of work. In the end, you either get all the credit or all the blame. ... I think it's good to take on different personas, especially with an album that has a lot of different styles."

Voodoo Lounge, released in 1994, proved that 22 albums later, critics and fans were still no closer to being of like mind as to the merits of The Rolling Stone. Nicholas Jennings, writing in Maclean's opined that the album "will neither silence the band's detractors nor totally excite its fans. A mixed bag of musical black magic and transparent sleights-of-hand, the recording breaks no new ground. But the album does prove that when it comes to raw, sexually charged numbers, the Stones can still rock with the best of them."

Oddly, reviewer Jas Obrecht called Voodoo Lounge "the best Stones LP of the past two decades" and said it "ranks with Exile On Main Street and Beggars Banquet. ... Tremendous," he concluded. The album, which sold over four million copies, won a Grammy as Best Rock Album of the Year.

The follow up project, Stripped was embraced by reviewers more readily. Andrew Abrahams of People said that with it, "The Glimmer Twins have finally stopped trying to prove they're still the leaders of the greatest rock-and-roll band in the world and are merely embracing their gnarled, deeply entrenched R&B roots." The album consisted primarily of revised version of songs released earlier in the group's lengthy career such as "Love in Vain." They followed this in 1997 with Bridges to Babylon, which included a lengthy international tour.


Complicated Family Affairs

Jagger has had a lifetime of affairs, starting in the 1960s with Marianne Faithfull, which ended when she had a miscarriage and drug overdose. With Marsha Hunt, an American actress, he had a daughter Karis. He first became involved with Jerry Hall in 1977. Although Jagger married both Bianca and Jerry, he continued to have affairs (it was said that Hall broke up his relationship with Bianca). He also had well publicized affairs with Italian model Carla Bruni in 1992 and Jana Rajlich, another model, in 1996--both while married to Hall.

The Jagger-Hall relationship confused even the press. Maclean's, for example, reported in October 1996 that the couple were divorcing; months later in December 1996, they reported Hall had "forgiven Jagger's infidelities."

Hall and Jagger finally split when it became public that Lucia Morad, a Brazilian lingerie model, was pregnant with Jagger's child. She filed for divorce in 1999. Attorneys for Jagger questioned the legality of the Indonesian wedding. Hall agreed to an annulment July 9, 1999.

In a 2003 interview with Irish Independent, Hall said, "I really tried for 25 years. I had the patience of a saint but he's an incurable womanizer and not very discreet. He needs help. I still love him and we're best friends, but I no longer have the heartache if he's unfaithful, thank God."

"When not working, Jagger doted on his children, helping them with their schoolwork and teaching them to play ping-pong and pool," according to a 1999 People feature on the couple. Hall reported that Jagger "gets down on the floor and plays silly games. ... I don't think he wants anyone to know about all the softy lullabies he sings to the babies. It might mess up his image." He also reportedly has a close relationship with his parents. He built a home for them connecting to his own in 1995. He rang his mother once a week while on the road until her death in May 2000. Jagger sang at her funeral service.

Mick continued his solo pursuits in his time away from the Rolling Stones. Goddess in the Doorway, released in 2001 by Virgin, was his fourth solo album. The project was reportedly the result of Jagger writing and recording for pleasure at home following the Bridges to Babylon tour.

"I thought, 'I've already done these songs, and I don't need to go in a studio and do them again with other people,'" Jagger told Billboard's Nigel Williamson. "But it didn't start as a solo record. It started as a songwriting thing because I hadn't written anything since Bridges to Babylon." Jim Keltner, a veteran drummer who had previously recorded with the Stones' Charlie Watts, Pete Townshend of The Who, and Aerosmith's Joe Perry. As well, Lenny Kravitz, Wyclef Jean, and U2's Bono contributed to the effort. Daughters Elizabeth and Georgia May also contribute vocals on one track.

Williamson said Goddess is clearly, "a recording that aims to buck the popular belief among many Stones fans that Jagger and Keith Richards need each other to produce their best work. ... Many of the songs have a stronger pop sensibility than is usually associated with the Jagger/Richards writing team."

Timed to buoy the album sales was a television documentary Being Mick Jagger. The film, which aired in the United Kingdom and United States in late November 2001, included snippets from the making of Goddess in the Doorway as well as showed Jagger in his daily life.

Jagger continued to keep busy with a wide variety of projects, even making a cameo voice over appearance in an episode of the animated television series The Simpsons. In "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation" he plays himself teaching stage performance at a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp.

Much has been made of Jagger's milestone birthdays since turning 40, none more so than his 60th birthday in 2003. This was spent on the road with the Rolling Stones during their Forty Licks tour. In Prague, the guests included Vaclav Havel, the dissident writer who eventually became the Czech president.


Knighted by the Queen

Queen Elizabeth announced that same year that Jagger would be knighted for his "services to popular music," making him Sir Mick. As United Press International noted, the honor is odd, for unlike other rock icons who have been given the honor, he has no "known record of charitable work or public services." This included missing the Queen's Golden Jubilee pop concert at Buckingham Palace that marked her 50 years on the throne.

Charlie Watts, engaging in a bit of hyperbole in According to the Rolling Stones, said "Anybody else would be lynched: 18 wives and 20 children and he's knighted, fantastic!" The ceremony took place in December 2003 with his father and Karis and Elizabeth in attendance.

Jagger reteamed with Dave Stewart to create the soundtrack for a remake of the 1966 film "Alfie." Described by Billboard as "the story of a carefree womanizer for whom sexual conquest brings pleasure and pain," reviewer Christopher Walsh added that, "Jagger deftly captures the duality of the protagonist's persona. He said some of the track "recall recent Rolling Stones offerings, midtempo tunes in which lust and virility are imbued with wistfulness and regret."

"And while this meeting of British pop savants ... won't make you forget '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' or 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),' wrote Chuck Arnold in People, "it produces some vivid blues-rock. The country-tinged first single 'Old Habits Die Hard' and soulful ballads like 'Let's Make It Up' showcase Jagger's distinctive drawl." Vocalists including Joss Stone and Sheryl Crow were featured on the soundtrack as well.

It's fairly obvious that, as Jagger--now a grandfather--approaches what might otherwise be the retirement years, that he is far from relinquishing the spotlight. Whether as a solo musical performer, with the Rolling Stones, in front of or behind a film camera, it's very clear he will never be satisfied to simply fade away.

 

 

 

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