Jagger biography getting attention

Mick Jagger. -- Copyright Philip Norman, 2012. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday Canada.

Mick Jagger. -- Copyright Philip Norman, 2012. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday Canada.

, Last Updated: 12:00 PM ET

Sympathy for the devil? Or at least a better understanding. In the following excerpt from his much talked-about biography Mick Jagger, author Philip Norman chronicles the aftermath of Jagger's split from Marianne Faithfull and the women who followed.

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A couple of weeks after the Stones left manager Allen Klein and Decca Records, Marianne left Mick. This time, no other man was involved: she waited until he went away on a European tour, then packed a small suitcase and took Nicholas back to her mother's. Mick pursued her again and pleaded for them to try again, but she managed to stand firm.

Coming down to earth after their four years together was a scary business: she now had no singing career to fall back on, no money to speak of, a child to care for, and a ravenous drug habit to feed. As with Chrissie Shrimpton before her, there was no question of claiming a substantial part of Mick's fortune for the many ways she had enriched his life as well as complicated it. However, he did not try to take back the cottage at Aldworth that was now her main refuge, so she did not end up either homeless or penniless. (Both states were to come, but entirely through her own efforts.)

Her first boyfriend after Mick was his total opposite in every way: a lanky Irish peer named "Paddy" Rossmore, whose "monkish, spiritual" habits had powerful appeal after the rock-star lifestyle and who, above all, answered her need for someone to talk to. Lord Rossmore also paid for her to see a Harley Street specialist to wean her off the mixture of barbiturates and alcohol she was substituting for smack.

Even after the Rossmore interlude, Mick continued to bombard Marianne with letters and phone calls, pleading with her to come back to him. Her final dissuasion was to destroy her own beauty, mutilating her once-golden hair into a raggedy crop and gaining more than three stone in weight. Unaware of the change in her appearance, Mick asked her to come and see him at Cheyne Walk. When she walked through the front door, she saw his jaw drop and knew the stratagem had worked.

"He finally realized I wasn't on the market any more," she would remember. "I never got another phone-call or letter from him."

It was the first time in six years that Mick had been without a permanent live-in girlfriend and he, too, seemed to find difficulty in adjusting.

Initially, there seemed a natural candidate on hand to take Marianne's place. Marsha Hunt, his so-called Miss Fuzzy, had been Mick's semipublic lover for almost a year and, with her dignity, drug-free lifestyle, and uninvolvement in Stones internal politics, was not seen as any kind of threat by his financial advisers. After Marianne's departure, Marsha moved into 48 Cheyne Walk for a couple of weeks, a time when Chris Jagger and his girlfriend, Vivienne, also happened to be visiting.

Marsha saw how the change in his domestic circumstances seemed to have depressed Mick, but felt "he missed the child (Nicholas) and the dog more than the woman ... He was very insecure, and needed the stability of a child."

By Marsha's account, they were at Mr. Chow's restaurant in Knightsbridge one evening when Mick suddenly suggested they should have a baby together. She knew how much he longed to be a father -- the more so since Marianne had miscarried their daughter, Corrina, while Anita had given Keith a son, Marlon. It was a very sixties rock-god proposition, Marsha recalls, designed not to interfere with his forthcoming tax exile or his image as the world's number one stud. She would stay in London and have the baby while Mick played the role of absent father, flying them out regularly for visits in whatever tax haven he might end up. He made everything sound so plausible, and heartfelt, that she was unable to refuse.

She became pregnant almost immediately and, fearing Mick might have changed his mind, offered to have an abortion. But he insisted she should have the baby and that everything would be as he'd outlined.

He said he wanted a boy, whom he proposed naming Midnight Dream (poor child) and sending to him Britain's most exclusive school, Eton College.

There was no suggestion of marriage, on Marsha's part any more than Mick's; as she often said, she could never marry any man who didn't get up until two in the afternoon.

Even now that Marsha was carrying his child, she did not expect him to be monogamous, and he fully justified her lack of expectation.

All that summer--including before Marianne's final exit--an unending stream of young women passed through 48 Cheyne Walk, some staying just a single night, or less, others lasting as long as a weekend, one or two later finding their way onto the largely female staff, led by JoBergman, who ministered to Mick's every practical need.

They tended to be American, usually Californian, aged around twenty-two, with a free and breezy attitude to sex that British girls had yet to learn. Bedding such beautiful nobodies from thousands of miles away was a typically judicious policy on his part, being less likely to attract the attention of the press, not to mention other bedfellows waiting in line.

By an unwritten code, American groupies talked about their conquests only to one another, and there was as yet almost no kiss-and-tell market to tempt them. Not until decades later--by that time substantial matrons in superannuated hippie tea gowns--would they gurglingly recall their time as "Mick's Girls" to tabloid newspapers or TV documentaries.

Perhaps the most famous, at least in retrospect, was Pamela Ann Miller--later Des Barres--a misleadingly angelic-looking twenty-one-year-old with a chin dimple to rival Kirk Douglas's.

"Miss Pamela" was already famous on the L.A. rock scene as a former lover of the Doors' Jim Morrison and a member of Frank Zappa's nonmusical groupie girl band, the GTOs.

When she first met Mick, on the Stones' '69 American tour, she was dating Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, but Mick enticed her away with tittle-tattle about Page's infidelity: a mind-boggling instance of pot traducing kettle.

The result was "a fabulous fling" with "the most thrilling, naughty, sexy man I ever met."

In after-years, the gurgling matron would describe how his lips left hickeys (love bites) all down her thigh, which she later showed off to friends as the groupie equivalent of a Victoria Cross.

The following summer, her American boyfriend came to London to manage the Granny Takes a Trip boutique on King's Road, and on an impulse she decided to join him. When she walked into the shop, she heard a shout of "Lady Pamela!" and saw Mick there, trying on clothes.

A second fabulous fling ensued, conducted at Cheyne Walk or the flat of her boyfriend--who quickly discovered what was going on but made no attempt to stop it; indeed, regarded it almost as a compliment.

One day when Mick turned up, Pamela was in the bath and answered the front door naked to find him standing there with Charlie Watts. With old-fashioned propriety, he clapped a hand over Charlie's eyes.

Cheyne Walk's temporary tenants were not exclusively female. Also quartered there during these first post-Marianne weeks was the Texan sax player Bobby Keys, one of the outer ring of musicians henceforward to appear onstage with the five Stones. Keys had met them on their first American tour, in 1964, when he was part of Bobby Vee's mohair-suited backing band.

The News of the World's investigators described tracking him (Jagger) to a London club, Blaises, in Kensington, asking point-blank whether he took LSD, and being rewarded with full disclosure, not only about that but other types of drugs also.

"I don't go much on (acid) now the cats have taken it up," he was quoted as saying. "It'll just get a dirty name. I remember the first time I took it. It was on our first tour with Bo Diddley and Little Richard ..." The report continued: "During the time we were at Blaises, Jagger took about six Benzedrine tablets. "I just wouldn't stay awake at places like this if I didn't have them," he said ... Later at Blaises, Jagger showed a companion and two girls a piece of hash and invited them to his flat for a "smoke."

Apart from the spelling of Mick's surname, the account had not one iota of truth. He had not even been at Blaises Club when the News of the World team visited it, let alone unburdened himself in this wholly uncharacteristic way.

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They had certainly talked to a Stone that night, but one who was the utter opposite of Mick in his approachability, garrulity, and pathetic pleasure at finding someone to listen to him, let alone in the colour of his hair. Even the untrendiest NoW reporters might have been expected to recognize Brian Jones after the paper had unearthed two of his illegitimate children a year earlier. But they hadn't. The irony wasn't just that Mick indulged in drugs so little compared with Keith and, especially, Brian. Lately he had become increasingly worried about the extent of their consumption and their vulnerability to just such a retribution as this. "It's all getting out of hand," he'd mut tered forebodingly to his art-dealer friend Robert Fraser just a few days earlier.

Bumping into him at an L.A. studio five years later, Mick had invited him to solo on a Let It Bleed track, prophetically named Live with Me. Together with trumpet and trombone player Jim Price, he now composed the horn section Mick wanted for the first Atlantic album and for the Stones' return to touring Europe in August and September.

The stocky, hilarious Keys, a teenage friend of the great Buddy Holly, palled more naturally with Keith (they had been born on the same day of the same month in the same year) but esteemed Mick as "a world-class harmonica player, the equal of any black guy I ever heard," and "the best country singer in rock 'n' roll." He was even so a little apprehensive when Mick invited him to crash at Cheyne Walk while working on the album.

Like many others around the Stones, he suspected Mick might be partly gay or bisexual, and had to suffer a good deal of ribbing from his fellow unequivocal "straights." "People said, 'Ah, you're gonna live at Jagger's ... guess you'll be sleepin' with one eye open.' I thought, 'What am I gonna do if he makes a move on me? If I hit him, there goes the gig.' "

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The most impressive woman ever to enter Mick's life -- if not quite for the reasons he first thought -- had grown up in Managua, capital city of Central America's largest, richest, and least stable nation. Bianca's father was a wealthy commodities dealer, and her family on both sides had provided diplomats for various key posts in the Nicaraguan foreign service.

Bianca showed strong academic gifts and at the age of seventeen was offered a scholarship by the French government to study at the Institute of Political Science in Paris. Dora made her go, thinking she'd be safer out of the country.

Bianca and Paris were made for each other. With her remarkable beauty went an elegance that had little to do with sixties dolly fashion and a faint air of mystery somewhat recalling the girl in the Peter Sarstedt song who "talk(s) like Marlene Dietrich and dance(s) like Zizi Jeanmaire," whose "clothes are all made by Balmain" and has "diamonds and pearls in (her) hair." While still in her teens, she became the girlfriend of Michael Caine, then as glamorous as any rock star for films such as The Ipcress File. Caine brought her to London and showed her off in many places where she might have crossed paths with Mick, but somehow never did. She later complained that "unkind, superficial" Caine "kept me like I was his geisha." She hadn't seen nuthin' yet.

Legend has it that Mick fell for Bianca because she looked exactly like him. It has become a modern myth of Narcissus: the world's most lusted-after creature, entranced by the thought of making love to himself.

In fact, the two did not really resemble each other, apart from both being slight and fine-boned, with the same air of not belonging to the noisy, taller crowd around them. What Mick saw was a young woman as intriguing as she was beautiful--so different from all those bland Californians--virtually offered to him on a canapé tray just when he was seeking a new relationship. So smitten was he that all his usual secretiveness went out of the window. When the tour moved on to Italy, Bianca flew to join him in Rome and was met at the airport by his personal limo. In this birthplace of paparazzi, the story soon got out, unleashing harassment so extreme that Mick punched a photographer, was hauled before a judge, and fined the equivalent of $1,200. After the tour's final concert in Amsterdam on Oct. 9, he returned to Britain with Bianca openly at his side, joking to reporters at Heathrow Airport that they were "just good friends" while Bianca took refuge in a ferocious, but still beautiful, frown. "I have no name" was her answer to all questions. "I do not speak English."

Bianca's impact on the Rolling Stones was not far short of Yoko Ono's when John Lennon first unloosed her on the Beatles. Whatever Mick's previous sexual or social digressions, his primary concern had always been keeping the Stones on track and pushing them ever forward.

Now, suddenly, here was something that interested him more.

The repercussions were felt, not only within the band itself but all down the pyramid of individuals whose livelihoods depended on proving their indispensability to him on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Not that Bianca--unlike Yoko--sought to exert any influence whatsoever.

Whereas all Mick's previous women, to some or other degree, had belonged to the pop music world, she was a total outsider. Even the Parisienne Holly Golightly in the Peter Sarstedt song kept Rolling Stones records in "a fancy apartment on the Boulevard Saint-Michel."

But, despite years with France's best-known record boss, Bianca knew nothing about rock--indeed, regarded it and its practitioners as rather childish. For Mick, at the beginning, that was part of her irresistible allure.

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On Nov. 4, Marsha Hunt gave birth to a daughter she named Karis. She went through the whole process alone, checking herself into the grim Victorian St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, and avoiding all questions about Karis's father, though the baby's remarkably full lips provided a clue. Toward the end of her pregnancy, Marsha had been seriously short of money, having had to give up performing, and been unable to extract the royalties she was owed from her record label, Track.

Finally, she had no alternative but to ask Mick--who, she knew, was now living with Bianca--for financial help. As she would recall, he sent £200 with a note saying "I know I haven't done right by you," or words to that effect, and also lent her a ring of his that she liked. What a miserly chill there is in that word lent.

Marsha received a congratulatory telegram and a bouquet of red roses from him, and he dispatched Bruna, the Cheyne Walk housekeeper, to prepare her flat for her return from the hospital. Some time passed, however, before he could slip away from Bianca and pay Marsha and Karis a visit. He was accompanied by his driver, Alan Dunn, and was "cordial and charming," Marsha would recall, but seemed "in a hurry to be somewhere else." Soon afterward, Bruna was recalled to Cheyne Walk.

He did not reappear for another ten days. By now, Marsha's tolerance was exhausted, and she railed at him for his neglect, holding baby Karis in her arms.

Mick responded that "he had never loved me, and I was mad to think he had."

He added that, if he chose, he could take the baby away from her. Marsha's spirited answer was that she'd "blow his brains out" if he tried.

-- Copyright Philip Norman, 2012. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday Canada.


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