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Topic: the BBC News Profiles Mick Jagger Return to archive
11-12-01 12:23 AM
Jaxx BBC

Nearly 40 years on from the Rolling Stones' first gig, Mick Jagger is still making the headlines. A new solo album is about to be released, the movie Enigma, which he produced, has opened to favourable reviews and a forthcoming documentary shows him chewing the fat with Sir Elton John.
Andrew Walker of the BBC's News Profiles Unit looks at what makes Mick tick.

"I can't get no satisfaction," snarled the youthful Mick Jagger in the 1960s, "but I try and I try and I try and I try."

At the venerable age of 58, it seems he is still trying. Professionally and, it seems, personally he has never worked harder than now.

A new solo album, Goddess in the Doorway, is about to hit the record shops and Jagger has been proactive in promoting it.

Jagger: a phenomenon since the early 1960s

Numerous appearances on television and radio, a raft of newspaper interviews and a forthcoming Channel Four documentary, Being Mick Jagger, attest to the importance that he places on the success of the project, especially as his first three solo outings have met with, to say the least, a muted response.

The recent film adaptation of Robert Harris's best-selling novel Enigma, produced by Jagger and scripted by the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, drew critical plaudits as a good old-fashioned British thriller.

He even appeared as a cover model for Saga magazine, a publication for the over-fifties noted for its advertisments for stairlifts and retirement homes: more rocking chair that rock 'n' roll.

And his private life has been hectic, too. His recent split from Jerry Hall, after 22 years together, was accompanied by the birth of a son, Lucas, to his lover, the model Luciana Morad

Father of seven

Jagger's renowned fertility might be explained by the lyrics of his hit "Some Girls".

"Some girls give me jewellery," he croons, "others buy me clothes. Some girls give me children, I never asked 'em for."

Jerry Hall eventually tired of Mick Jagger's low fidelity

The current number of Jagger offspring stands at seven by four different women. Rock star hedonism is lauded as chic. If he lived on a sink estate in one of Britain's blighted inner cities, Jagger would be a haunted man.

More recently, he has been seen on the arm of another twentysomething model, Sophie Dahl.

But by now, Jagger's exploits between the sheets have become the stuff of legend. Affairs with numerous women, from Marianne Faithfull and 60s model Chrissie Shrimpton through to singer Carly Simon and actress Uma Thurman have hogged the headlines, often to the exclusion of his music.

There is something about the ineffable campness of Mick Jagger, the loose-limbed limpness and pouting manner, which appeals to women.

'Avin a laugh

Beyond his facial wrinkles, which he calls laughter lines, (once provoking the wit and jazz singer George Melly to quip, 'Surely nothing could be that funny.') he remains extremely attractive to the opposite sex.

He is actively interested in what women are interested in: clothes, music, gossip. Combined with his rugged physique and musical prowess, he is master of a seductive nature of which even Warren Beatty would be envious.

Their fame is spread from LA to Moscow

An antidote to the sometimes saccharine sweetness of The Beatles, the Stones were ugly, feisty, and unpredictable. Songs like Hey You, Get Off Of My Cloud and 19th Nervous Breakdown had an edge to them, a coolness that even the Fab Four, with all their easy-going brilliance, just could not match.

That doyen of cultural commentators, Tom Wolfe, got it right when he wrote, "the Beatles want to hold you hand. The Stones want to burn your town."

Central to their success was the complex character of Jagger himself. At once surly and erudite, he was convicted in 1967, together with Richards, of possessing marijuana yet was courted by politicians, including Labour's colourful Tom Driberg, as a future political star.

The 1970s saw any political ambitions swamped by the bacchanal of a series of excessive Stones world tours. Wine, women and song were the order of the day.

Still got it?

Televisions flew out of windows, yet the music justified the group's claim as The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World. Everyone wanted to be where Jagger was.

Even today, the magic still works. There is still a buzz about a Rolling Stones concert which allows those there to think that, for two hours at least, they are at the centre of the known universe.

His stage charisma has endured

Jagger is still driven, still loves cricket (which he follows online wherever he is in the world) and is working hard to make his film production company a success.

Whether it will go the way of George Harrison's Handmade Films, folding after initial popular and critical success, is yet to be seen.

But age has brought Jagger into a more reflective mood. "I am a moral person," he says, "but I think, like most people, my moral values tend to be pretty fuzzy." Whether as an arbiter of popular taste or as a private citizen, Jagger still excites and provokes.

We all know it's only rock and roll. And, yes, we do like it.

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