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Topic: what the driver saw Return to archive
05-29-02 12:42 PM
moy more on the same story posted before (i couldn't find the previous thread)

What the driver saw
What the driver saw
(Filed: 29/05/2002)


He had that Mick Jagger in the back of his car for 14 years. Now Keith Badgery, also chauffeur to Madonna and Michael Jackson, reveals the stars' secrets. He talks to Helena de Bertodano



Most taxi drivers have at least one story about having a celebrity in the back of their cab. Keith Badgery can trump them all. He had that Mick Jagger in the back of his car for 14 years. And that Michael Jackson for four-and-a-half months. Not to mention Madonna, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Naomi Campbell, Julia Roberts, Jack Lemmon, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and many, many more.

For years people have told him, "You should write a book". Now he has. In Baby You Can Drive My Car, to be published on June 7, he reveals the antics of his clients, in particular Mick Jagger, whose famous womanising was often witnessed by Badgery. In fact, the book opens with Badgery tactfully getting out of the car while Jagger says his farewells to Sophie Dahl. "This took some time. By the end of it, the car was actually rocking slightly."

I meet Badgery at his home in Carshalton, Surrey. His wife Jane, also a chauffeur, comes to collect me from the station in the black Mercedes limousine Badgery used for ferrying around his clients. It is very comfortable, with a beige leather and suede interior and tinted windows. As we cruise along the streets of Carshalton, I almost convince myself that I am famous.

Badgery, 53, looks - and sounds - just like Frank Butcher from EastEnders. The son of a train driver, he used to work for a company that supplied cars to celebrities and became so popular that they would vie for his services. For the past five years he has worked independently, and only stopped driving Jagger two months ago. Jagger used him so often that Badgery had to drop his other commitments. "I basically lost all my clients through Mick because he used me every day of the week." But Jagger has recently hired a new minder, who also acts as a driver, and Badgery had found himself increasingly sidelined. "Mick, God bless him, has paid quite a few bills for me over the years, but it started dwindling and I had nowhere to turn . . . I went from 10 grand a month down to two-and-a-half."

It was then, Badgery says, that he decided to write a book. "I fought with my conscience for quite a long time. The book wasn't written to upset too many people. There is stuff I know about people that I wouldn't ever write. With one sentence, I could break someone's marriage up. I won't go there."

Over the years, Badgery often drove Jagger to meet his girlfriends - and also drove his former wife Jerry Hall. "Sometimes Mick would be at one address in the afternoon and then he'd be out with Jerry that night. Even though they had split up, they were getting on fine; they'd be laughing and joking and I'd feel sorry for her because I knew where he'd been that afternoon. At the split she was devastated. She was very, very low and she started smoking again. Sometimes I could see she was dying to burst into tears and you felt like saying, 'You'll be all right Jerry', but you can't."

Badgery believes he became popular because he always remembered his place. "No matter how close I've got to a lot of these people I've never forgotten who I am and what I do. I've stayed over at Rod Stewart's house, I've stayed at the Dorchester with Michael Jackson and when you're on tour with people you're treated as part of the family. But there's always a cut-off point."

I ask Badgery if he thinks Jagger is surprised about the book. "I think so," says Badgery. "I think Mick is disgusted," says Jane bluntly. Badgery nods sadly. "It wasn't done lightheartedly. I'm a bit sorry I've let people down but at the end of the day I was being let down as well."

Badgery does not really envy the lives his clients lead. "They're in a world of their own. They're just not down-to-earth. Mick swans around, jumping on private jets or Concorde: whether it costs three grand or 20 grand. Once we were down at a school in Oxford where his son was playing cricket, and Mick wanted to go to King's Lynn for dinner. He asked how long it would take and I said probably about three-and-a-half hours. Next thing, he'd got a helicopter in."

"As one does," interjects Jane.

And yet, says Badgery, Jagger is careful with his money over trivial things. "He'll moan about how much a hay fever drug costs here and wait until he goes to the States to buy it."

"And also," adds Jane, "their house is not that lavishly furnished. It's quite ropey actually. Some of the carpets are threadbare."

Badgery is not surprised at the story in the papers this week about Jerry Hall having to take minicabs instead of having a chauffeur-driven car. "After the split a couple of years ago, Mick wouldn't pay the bill for Jerry's journeys with me. A few times the invoice would come back saying, 'Don't charge Mick for that, that's Jerry'. Sometimes I'd have to phone up and say `Jerry's gone with the kids to Mustique. Who do I charge for that? Mick or Jerry?' " Madonna was the rudest person Badgery ever drove. "I didn't like her. She was very cold. You don't expect a tip but just a 'Goodnight' or a 'Thank you' now and again would have been nice." The friendliest client was Gloria Estefan, he says. "She and Emilio, her husband, were a lovely couple. Whenever I drove them to a restaurant, they'd say 'Come on Keith, park the car, come in and eat'. I'd say I was quite happy in the car and she'd say 'I'm not having that'. It wasn't just the food, their whole attitude was nice, they made me feel very comfortable."

Jagger was never so considerate, Badgery claims. "I used to be invited in for a cup of coffee sometimes. But then that stopped."

In fact Jagger would, on occasion, forget Badgery was even there. "I'd drive him back to his house at seven so he could put the kids to bed and he'd say 'Come back for me at 8.30'. I'd get back at 8.30 and sit in the driveway till one in the morning. That would stress me out. I'd think 'Why am I sitting round here? He knows I only live 20 minutes away'. I'd be there for five hours, then I'd call him on his mobile. He'd go, 'All right, Keith, I'll be out in a minute', or it'd be, 'God, sorry, mate, I forgot all about you. I'm not going out now'."

Although Jagger and Hall are divorced, they still live in adjacent houses in Richmond with a connecting door. "She used to lock him out frequently last Christmas," says Jane. On some occasions, when both Jagger and Hall were at home, Badgery would get a call asking him to pull up across the road, not in the driveway. "Jerry would be watching out of her bedroom window and he'd sneak out of the side door."

"It did get embarrassing sometimes," adds Badgery. "Mick would say, 'If Jerry asks, say I was out with Matt last night'. Jerry never asked."

Baby You Can Drive My Car by Keith Badgery (Blake Publishing), is available for 14.99 plus 1.99 p & p through Telegraph Books Direct: 0870 155 7222.


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