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Topic: Anitas Pallenberg's interview Return to archive
06-13-02 02:43 PM
Lacride Here's the Interview of Anita Pallenberg, in June's issue of Marie Claire mag.
'Hope my translation not too bad... Denis, a friend of mines, helped to polish it.
LOL Chris


Fabrice Gaignault. Photos from Dominique Tarlé


It's a unique document: the golden life of the Rolling Stones on the Côte d'Azur in 1971. Taken from an exceptional workbook - "Exile", from Dominique Tarlé (Genesis) -, those pictures show the hidden face of Keith, Mick and CO, sun and frenzy addict but also very tender parents… A foolish era narrated for Marie Claire by Anita Pallenberg - ex-girlfriend of Keith Richards.

Let's have a dream. Let's imagine stars, true ones, not false ersatz, letting - encouraging - a young photographer snap them 24 hours a day (nights and days limits were confuse in those times…), at all angles, all postures, revealing each tired faces, without any censorship. Nowadays, something impossible, the celebrities turning to psychosis the control of their image. In the spring of 1971, Dominique Tarlé, French photographer, 22 years old, was lucky enough to live six months with the Rolling Stones, in the house of Keith Richards where the band was recording what was going to be "Exile On Main Street". It all happened in Villefranche-sur-mer, on the Riviera, suddenly being "on the rock". Dominique Tarlé had waited to find the right editor, the English Genesis to publish those sublime pictures, because they don't cheat, and it's a unique case in the history of show biz. Here, life is jumping in all directions, with the kids playing, friends laughing, musicians high, unknown folks boozing. Dirty feet, excursions with the E-type Jag, with rakes and shovel for the kids. All of that suddenly made all of those made up scenes of promoting stars posing like wax dolls for the photographer look pathetic. To illustrate those pictures of whom she is the jewel, the scandalous and adorable Anita Pallenberg, ex girlfriend of Keith Richards, from whom she has children, gave us an exclusive interview, reflecting the spirit of the book. No filter, no fuss, no fear. Her vision of the truth could scandalize the gospel's worshipers as per Saint Stones since she doesn't spare some members of the band and the way this one went (to the bad). In the little Portobello hotel where she is living now, Anita tells us that she prefers to receive us in the room of her friend Marianne Faithfull who is staying at the same hotel for her triumphal concert in London. Unique moment, because unexpectedly, icing on the cake for the reporter, to see those two unsinkable legends chatting as if nothing had ever changed since their youth in Swinging London. "It's only rock'n roll": Perhaps, but what a life…

Marie Claire: Who had the idea to move to southern France?

Anita Pallenberg: It was Prince Ruppert Lowenstein, a friend of Mick. He organized everything, among others the hiring of the villas for members of the band. I discovered the villa Nellcôte when I first came to Villefranche-sur-Mer in spring 1971. Keith, our son Marlon and the nurse, had already left London. We had never seen that house, not even on photos… It was beautiful even if it had strange vibrations: it had been the Nazi General Headquarter during WW two… That mansion was not very comfortable; the kitchen was a bit old, the garden neglected. It was necessary to put it all in order.

M.C.: Well, but what was the first idea: working or having a good time?

A. P.: Both of them. Tax reasons were the very first ones for the band to go on exile. You should know that in those times the British government took 99% of the band's income! Another reason was the desire to make a new album. "Sticky fingers" had been a huge success. The Stones wanted to do something different, a bit more "roots", perhaps. The heat and the moistness of the Midi were perfect for the "bluesy" atmosphere of the musical inspiration. The other band members - Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor and Charlie Watts - quickly came to our house turned into astudio.

M.C.: Lets say, studious holidays?

A. P.: You could say that. For my concern, I've never been a fan of grilling like a piece of meat on a crowded beach. I need stimulation. And well, I had my due! I had to deal with friends - celebrities or unknowns, from Eric Clapton to John Lennon -, music night and day, Marlon gamboling: Nellcôte was very animated. And in the little haven of Villefranche too, opposite from us, especially when the American marines laid up their warships. In those days, almost everyone took LSD: funny scenes, all those stoned marines in the lanes of the haven!

M.C.: Weren't you invaded with parasites? It was a bit the court of King Richard the Lion Heart…

A. P.: That's exactly what it was: many people were coming and going, and suddenly, they felt in disgrace. We didn't have to fire the undesirables. The way we looked at them or the way we ignored them: they knew if they could stay or go…

M.C.: Looking at those photos, we feel like discovering extraordinary people living an ordinary life. Tongs, duke-like life buoy for the kids, we just miss the cocktail snacks, the icebox and the Cinzano parasol!

A. P.: However, that was our life there: relaxed! We went to sea with the Riva boat, or we took the kids to the beach in Keith's Jaguar E-Type or in the big American cab that he had bought from a Lebanese. It was really cool: we had open table, each of us coming and getting with his mates. And big tables at lunch and diner. But, in the end, everything became sinister because of the guys we named the "cowboys". Eight young natives we employed to help us in the house. Very soon, they became dangerous. They began to deal. They let in some "cousins" from Marseille, rotters who wanted to play the tough guys.

M.C.: Didn't you have any bodyguards?

A. P.: No, we were very naive. The door was open, night and day. We didn't even know where the keys were! The result? They stole all our guitars, in full daylight. Keith's Guitars, I tell you, real, priceless jewels. Ian Stewart, the Stones keyboardist, traveled through Europe trying to find them. He could locate some of them, one in the flea market in Amsterdam. It was organized theft. Afterwards, Keith pretended that the thieves ended up in Villefranche bay with cement shoes. And I think it's true: Keith is very gentle, but damn you if you get him angry. After this story, we kept "the heaven doors" closed.

M.C.: Six months later, you flew away before the cops came and arrested you for drug dealing…

A. P.: It's a myth! We never had problems with the cops. We had trouble with the "mums" of the cowboys: they made us responsible for their children's problem. But they were dealing horse, we not. One day, I saw a strange girl I hadn't seen before walking around the house. She had left her bag on a wall. I opened the bag and found a cop card in it. We were under police surveillance. So I went unexpectedly in our guardhouse. I found an incredible amount of powder. I told the guys to move out. Those guys were addict and their parents thought we were responsible. The police had already seen that we had nothing to do with it.

M.C.: Why did you leave so quickly? You even left Oakie alone, the Labrador.

A. P.: A rumor was running saying there would be a cops' raid to arrest me at any moment. There were some Frenchmen who asserted that I could risk 14 years in jail for drug trafficking. I was the pet aversion of the French authorities, so to say the bad influence on the Stones. In contradiction to the legend, Keith was not in the cops' line of fire. Then we left, moving to LA. But we continue to day the rent for Oakie and the one supposed to look after him.

M.C.: Well, but you were very addicted, Keith and you…

A. P.: Yes, for sure, but not on a regular basis… Believe me, we had thousands of other poles of attraction. We weren't blocked washouts! I remember we used to talk about politic, Vietnam and Angela Davis whose poster hung on the wall of the studio. The song "Sweet Black Angel" is dedicated to her.

M.C.: Some may have forgotten it, but you "had a life before the Rolling Stones".

A. P.: Yes indeed: I was 17 when I began working as a model for Catherine Harlé in Paris. She had created the most famous agency at those times. I was living at her flat, Passage Choiseul. I've posed for Jean-Loup Sieff, Guy Bourdin and a lot of other photographers…

M.C.: Your name sounds very German for an Italian girl. What origins do you have?

A. P.: I am the daughter of a German who moved to Rome to follow Goethe's romantic dream. As a child, I refused to speak German; I have always considered myself much as an Italian. I've learned French in Paris.

M.C.: I'd like to come back to the book. How did you react when you discovered those pictures?

A. P.: I realized that we had been very happy. We were so well integrated that we even drank Pernod [Pastis, translator's note], just like the natives. We had a real good time!

M.C.: Did the inhabitants of Villefranche know who was living there?

A. P.: They were discreet but they knew very well who we were. I remember, when I was having a drink at the port, I heard Keith's riffs crossing the bay! But the relationship was not like the one of fans. They considered us just like some strange people: every day we went to Errol Flynn's old sailing boat, "Zaca". Keith would have liked to buy it and restore it.

M.C.: On the photos, Keith is always seen with a guitar in his hands. Wasn't it a bit boring sometimes for you?

A. P.: I was living with a musician; I had to accept his way of life. One time, I got furious because he wasn't listening to me. I took his guitar and crashed it on the floor. Keith didn't even look at me. He took the phone and called Stu, his man Friday: "Come here, one of my guitars has had an accident!" And I became even more furious! There was always a competition between the guitars and me. Keith wanted the best place for them on sofas and armchairs. Well, after all, I was living with a rocker!

M.C.: How did you go on with Mick Jagger? It seems he just came to work…

A. P.: Yes, that's it. He had hired a big mansion near Grasse. That summer, he got married to Bianca in Saint-Tropez. She was pregnant and didn't like to come to Nellcôte: she thought there were too many people in there. We never really got in touch, she and I. We never really got acquainted. She was so particular.

M.C.: How did you manage the education of little Marlon in such a permanent party mood?

A. P.: He had his own nurse and a lot of friends to play with. I was not an early riser; I "booked" the afternoon for Marlon. But Keith had no problems to spend the morning with our son after a recording night. Keith slept very little, a few hours in the afternoon, 20 minutes here and there. He didn't need more.

M.C.: Marlon, is it an homage to Brando?

A. P.: Yes, we had played together in "Candy", from Christian Marquand. I had just given birth to the boy. Keith was by my side. He told me that Brando had phoned home to congratulate for my play in "Performance". We still didn't know how to call our kid. We thought: "Well, why not Marlon?" That's it…

M.C.: Do you think it could be possible today for a photographer to live with the Stones for months and share their privacy?

A. P.: Surely not, everything has become formatted in the rock world. The artist's image is under such control - look at Mick, for example - that it's absolutely not the reflection of what they really are. Today, Dominique Tarlé couldn't obtain the permission to work out such pictures. That's the reason why his book is so precious, let's say unique, in the history of stardom: simply because it's a true testimony.

M.C.: Are you feeling nostalgic when you think about this prodigal era?

A. P.: No. That book gives me plenty of pleasure but no tears. For Keith and me, it's a bit like a private diary so that our kids know what we have lived there, because otherwise we have kept nothing!

M.C.: Did you meet the Stones by accident or have you always been attracted by the rock world?

A. P.: As a child, I grew up in Rom in a classical music atmosphere. My father was a very good pianist. And I did play well cello. We had no TV, no radio. The music we played was the only way to escape, the only distraction. But very soon, I was involved in the "dolce vita" mode of that time. I remember Nico and Donna Luna - the first black model - walking through the streets of Rom. As a teenager, I discovered rock'n roll, a music I instantly loved.

M.C.: "Swinging London", how did you discover it? What happened?

A. P.: I had seen the Who in La Locomotive, in Paris. I had loved their show. In the years 1964-65, I often went to Hamburg for my job. My friends from the model business had told me: "The Beatles are out. There is a new fantastic band you should listen to: they call themselves the Rolling Stones." One day, I was in Munich for a shooting. At the end of the session, the photographer told me: "Hey, the Rolling Stones are playing tonight in a brasserie [a beer-bar, translator's note]. 'Wanna come with me?" We went to the concert. But the band had to stop playing because the crowd went wild. Mick was afraid he could be raped, because the girls were out of control. I went back-stage - I wanted to meet them - and I offered them a joint to relax.

M.C.: In 1964, it was not usual to smoke [joints].

A. P.: No, only the avant-garde artists did smoke joints. The poor little Stones were afraid. They all were clean at that time. Except Brian, who was already acquainted with drugs. It's the time I really preferred with them. They were so pretty, so good! After that, the band became a multinational, just to make more bucks, nothing else. The last time I saw the Stones in concert, in New York, I was taken at my hotel in a mini-van with other guests I didn't know. We were asked to leave backstage two songs before the end of the concert. Something makes me sick too, it's to see Mick's ravaged face nowadays and to remember how he used to look. I really don't like that.

M.C.: What did you like in the Stones in the beginning?

A. P.: Their music, for sure, as it was still authentic. And their way of life. What I call the gypsy style. Make money and spend it immediately, not thinking what tomorrow will bring. Do what you like, be free like the breeze. I did live that way: I went to Spain to spend the money I made with the fashion pictures. I didn't come back until I was stone broke. Only then, I had to go back to Paris. Catherine Harlé used to call, telling me I was booked for some shooting. But, if I had enough money to live, I didn't move. Back in those days, we went all nights to Régine or Chez Castel [two famous night-clubs in Paris, translator's note]. I spent some time with Nico, Amanda Lear, Dani and that incredible girl named Zouzou la twisteuse [the twist dancer, translator's note]. We were free. I remember, one night, at about three, we left Castel and went down to Saint-Tropez. It was not unusual in those days.

M.C.: You've been acquainted with other great rock figures…

A. P.: Yes, for sure. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page with whom I sometimes got totally blocked. It's never been mentioned, because it's not so good for the rock legend image, but those musicians didn't like each other. They were very jealous of one another. For example, the Stones hated Led Zeppelin, especially their singer, Robert Plant. They all disliked him!

M.C.: You've been an actress. Why did you not more appear on screen?

A. P.: From the first time, I hated the atmosphere of shootings, a mix-up of talkers and pretentious have-you-seen-me. Irritant! Well, I only made a few films, but with good producers: Fassbinder, Ferreri, Garrel. That's enough for me.

M.C.: In "Performance", from Nicolas Roeg, you were with Mick Jagger, in his bed. What did Keith think about it as it's been rumored that the love scenes weren't faked?

A. P.: It's not true. I know, everybody thought I had an affair with Mick during the shooting, but I'm gonna tell you something, no matter how his fans can react: Mick is not the kind of man I prefer. I don't like how he looks at you. We spent a week together in bed, but it was strictly professional!

M.C.: Before Keith Richards, there was another Stone in your life, Brian Jones, who died in 1969. Hadn't you noticed Keith before?

A. P.: Brian was a genius; he was the most cultivated Stone. He could easily speak German and he knew a lot of things. For me, the others had less breadth. And, when I met Keith, he was sickly shy. I got together with Brian and we lived two years of a… psycho-neurotic life. He used to beat me, sometimes. One day, we'd headed up for Morocco with some Stones and Brian began to seriously disconnect. He spent time ordering meals in our room and throw them at my face. I started to fear. One day, tired of all that shouting, Keith ordered him to stop nagging me and to go back to London. With Brian, I had a true sado-maso relation. It had to stop. I remained with Keith. That's all…

M.C.: Do you think, as some people say, that Brian was murdered?

A. P.: Yes, without any doubt! He was found drowned in his swimming pool. Brian had organized a party in his London home. Everybody was stoned and drunk. I'm sure that the whole thing degenerated: possibly someone "jokingly" maintaining Brian's head under water until he loss conscience.

M.C.: You said one day that you were the sixth Rolling Stone. Isn't it a bit exaggerated?

A. P.: I didn't say that. Those words are from Ian Stewart, their pianist. I never had the pretention to utter something so silly. But the truth is that I was a bit like their nurse. I let them discover hash, mode, painters like Warhol - a friend of mine's - writers like Moravia, Ginsberg or Burroughs, theatre, with the Living Theater, I had followed their tour.

M.C.: You mentioned "fashion". Did you have any influence on their outfit?

A. P.: No, but it's funnier than that: Keith used to steal my clothes. He loved wearing my little Biba jackets on stage. I designed the famous black leather trousers with silver buckles that he wore a long time in concert.

M.C.: You're singing in the chorus on "Sympathy For The Devil". Didn't you want to collaborate more with the Stones?

A. P.: I did it once. In Peru, I co wrote the lyrics of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" with Mick, but he didn't credit me when the LP was released! Otherwise, I would be rich today… I remember Marshall Chess, their manager, he wanted to offer me a Ferrari as a gift for all I did in those Nellcôte days for Keith and the band, but I never saw the color of it… Stones and money, it's always rather complicated…

M.C.: Do you accept to be considered as a seventies icon, just like Nico and Marianne Faithfull?

A. P.: No, not at all. For me an icon is a Russian sacred painting, nothing else.

M.C.: But you can't deny that you are a legend…

A. P.: Yes, for sure, but I always stood with my feet on the ground, even when I was flying high!

M.C.: But you are pleased to be recognized, in the street or in a restaurant…

A. P.: No, I don't like it. I'd rather be refused at an "In" place than tell my name and have the red carpet.

M.C.: How did you bring your children up? In a very strict atmosphere or in a rockin'n rollin way, with all the implications…

A. P.: Our son Marlon grew up totally in the Rolling Stones ambiance. He learned walking on stage, at the end of a concert, in Amsterdam! He learned the numbers on the calling lists of hotel rooms. And I taught him how to read. Our daughter, Dandelion, three years younger than her brother, we gave her to her paternal grandparents in order to give her a normal childhood and not to be dragged from one palace to another. Now, she breeds horses in the English countryside.

M.C.: It sure wasn't easy, for your son Marlon, your breaking up with Keith…

A. P.: Oh, sure not! Marlon was so used to see lines of powder that, as he was about seven or eight, he began to crush aspirin wafers to make lines. He put them on our furniture. People thought that it was a kind attention from us. Poor fellows, they were sniffing aspirin! That's the single example I know that aspirin gives you a headache.

M.C.: You were a bit a… special mother, no?

A. P.: You can say that. Marlon pretends I was a very funny mother when I was dancing on tables. I'm not sure it was as funny for him, at the time. I think it's great that, today, we can talk about it. As for me, I finally grew up; I quit dope fifteen years ago. I was unable to go on like this and the quality of heroin had come down. I couldn't see myself becoming a junkie alcoholic grandmother. Today, Marlon and Dandelion are very proud of me, my grandchildren too (the two Marlon's children, editor's note)

M.C.: Did Marlon ever want to be a rock star?

A. P.: No, he works as a DJ from times to times in New York, plays some guitar, but I think that with what he lived through in his childhood, the Stones atmosphere, turned up to be an overdose for him. For a long time, he totally rejected anything connected with the band. Just to make his father mad, he only played Beatles at home, pretending they were much better than the Stones! He has edited a magazine but he is especially an Internet fan. He spends hours with his computer, like an exemplary computer scientist. What do you think: what's the occupation of Marianne Faithfull's son? He wrote a straight essay on world economy, which has had a fair success in England. Well, what about the rebelling youth!

M.C.: Drug separated you and Keith, or not?

A. P.: In a way, yes, but not the way you think. We got arrested in Toronto, Keith and I, in 1974. We could have been heavily charged for criminal association. Our lawyer was also the defense counsel for notorious mafia families. He recommended us to split. That was the only way to avoid spending about fifteen years jail. Well, we split, but we were still in love.

M.C.: Did you secretly meet?

A. P.: Yes, during concerts, backstage. We would look in each other eyes and say simultaneously: "Score". In our secret language, it meant: let's decamp, buy some powder! Funny, we were never married and we never split either... That's the reason why, perhaps, we've been friends all along. My addiction to hard drugs began to become problematic. I then decided to go back to England and follow a Narcotic Anonyms program before graduating as a stylist at Saint Martin School of Art. For five years, I didn't meet Keith, the best way not to fall back again. He, he was still on his trip… However, nobody can take from us what we've lived together. Keith is still my man, even if he has got married since. He admitted it in a book: "I still love Anita, but we simply cannot live together".

M.C.: Let's say, Keith is the man of your life?

A. P.: Yes and no. For the passion, it was Brian. He was such a genius, crazy, extravagant. Keith is still the mate, the confident, the beloved lover. In his life, he is absolutely not the bad boy painted in the medias.

M.C.: It's something incredible that you outlived all this…

A. P.: Keith and I, we can explain it: we were both born during WW2. We learned to walk during the blitz. It gives you character. We are indestructible.

M.C.: I've seen you're still good friend with Marianne Faithfull, another sixties' survivor.

A. P.: We met again five or six years ago and since then, we meet on a regular basis. I really love her. It's funny, because we are so different, let's say, concerning our mutual past. Marianne is very nostalgic about that era, about her love story with Mick, about the madness that ran in London, and that she was the queen of it…

M.C.: Some say you have a sulphurous reputation and some magic power. Do you practice, as commonly said, black magic?

A. P.: No, it's pure invention. But I think that people were afraid of me. Perhaps because I wasn't from the same social class as most of the musicians, not talking about their wives… Culture, good manners, education are often felt as an aggression or even as a perversion for people who lack them.

M.C.: Finally, what did the Stones bring to you?

A. P.: They gave me a lot and I gave them a lot too, I think. Here is all the magic of the Stones: a creative exchange, sentimental and experimental, that reached it's peak with the Nellcôte experience.

M.C.: What are you doing, now, in London?

A. P.: For a long time, I was a trend counsel for stylists such as Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Vivienne Westwood. But now, I wanna stop. I intend to go back to university and graduate into Egyptology. For me, life is beginning…

06-13-02 03:13 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl Merci Lacride! Thanks a lot, great work, and great interview

BTW, the photos accompanying the article were posted here
06-13-02 03:23 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl ...and here they are, with thanks to Jacques for scanning and sending them

06-13-02 03:30 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl so'mo

All photos by Dominque Tarlé!
06-13-02 03:35 PM
sandrew She is one bad-ass lady...
06-14-02 06:17 AM
gotdablouse Merci beaucoup, great post !
Is your friend Denis D., ex-stones fan club ? If yes do you have an email for him, I lost touch with him a few years back. cheers
06-14-02 07:31 AM
gotdablouse wrote:
Merci beaucoup, great post !
Is your friend Denis D., ex-stones fan club ? If yes do you have an email for him, I lost touch with him a few years back. cheers

Hi gotdablouse!
Sorry, Denis is not the one you mean, but he likes the Stones. Well, after all, it's only rock'n'roll, but we all like it!
06-14-02 09:54 AM
jb Uh, she co-wrote Can't always get what you want"? sound like a Mick Taylor type of situation...
06-14-02 02:25 PM
Sir Stonesalot Yeah jb, but I don't think you'll hear of anyone clamouring for her return!
06-19-02 06:21 AM
Jacques Bravo Lacride
Great work, thank you for non French readers.

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