Biographer dishes on complex Jagger

Mick Jagger biographer Philip Norman (Craig Robertson, QMI Agency)

Mick Jagger biographer Philip Norman (Craig Robertson, QMI Agency)

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:45 PM ET

Seasoned British music biographer Philip Norman spent two years researching the frontman of the "world's greatest rock and roll band."

The result, entitled Mick Jagger, runs a whopping 600 pages.

"It is a long time out of your life to think about nothing else but Mick Jagger," Norman admits.

The exhaustive detail - Jagger being imprisoned on a 1967 drug bust reportedly set up by MI5, the attempted suicides of girlfriends Chrissie Shrimpton (sister of Jean) and Marianne Faithfull, his poetry reading to 250,000 fans at Hyde Park following the death of guitarist Brian Jones, his calm despite the fatal crowd stabbing in Altamont, the intial denying paternity and support of his daughter with Marsha Hunt, the dalliances during marriages to ex-wives Bianca Jagger and Jerry Hall - led Norman to sum up his subject (who didn't cooperate with the book) thusly: "Complex."

"He has something that's almost verging on the psychotic in that he does not recognize his own past," says Norman. "All he cares about is being current, being young, being trendy, today and tomorrow, not yesterday. And still being the rock idol on stage at the age of 70 (by 2013) - because it works. There are young people who think he's amazingly cool - a grandfather!"

In the book, Norman repeatedly refers to it as "the Tryanny of Cool."

Still, Norman wound up genuinely liking his subject - who he began interviewing in 1965 as a newspaper journalist - more than he thought he would. He paints a happy childhood picture of the Dartford, Kent, raised singer, the son of a disciplined P.E. teacher and hairdresser mother who favoured Jagger's younger brother Chris. (Could the latter be the reason for his Lothario reputation that saw him father seven children by four different women?)

"There's no dark side with Mick," Norman says. "It's said when LSD, which always used to find the vulnerable part of every person who took it, LSD gave up with Mick. There was no insecurity. There was no vulnerable part. LSD just shrugged it's shoulders."

Jagger was at the London School Of Economics when he reunited with the equally blues-besotted Keith Richards - they actually first met when they were eight years old - and they both moved in with Brian Jones to form The Rolling Stones in 1962. But it was his invention of the dancing, androngynous frontman of a rock band that was so groundbreaking.

"It was very eccentric for there to be a singer who didn't play a guitar in those days," Norman says. "And he so absolutely created the moves that everybody had to follow them. Only Jim Morrison would hold a microphone like a little baby bird. Every one else follows Mick and holds it like a phallus.The way you actually move, he has defined it. It implies sexuality. It implies abandonment, arrogance, supremacy, authority, all in one but that is both slightly sort of fey and very, very macho. Masculine and feminine. He's the king and queen of rock."

Norman also found Jagger to be a very good son and father if a rather spectacularly bad husband in his addictive pursuit of women -- from Carla Bruni to Angelina Jolie, the latter who apparently treated him very badly.

"What doesn't usually happen is that it goes on into the 50s and 60s," Norman says. "Even Casanova was finished by the age of 35. And also being so very blatant about it is like that sort of rock star teenager syndrome of thinking you can get away with anything at all and to endanger a set up like Jerry Hall and his children so wantonly seems bizarre. It's like a child who doesn't think that grownups can see him."

jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

 


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