“I didn’t appreciate Mick Jagger until I got older, and mainly because of the Mick Jagger swagger. He defined that for the world. He was bold and adventurous with it, too—just the ultimate rock star.”—Mayer Hawthorne.
If what they claim is true, then the Rolling Stones may just be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. And if that’s true, that makes Mick Jagger the greatest frontman of all time. It’s hard to refute that argument: for 60 years, Jagger has been the sneering, swaggering, sex-charged embodiment of rock stardom, and he has penned more great songs than probably any other person in music history. And what’s more, he’s still doing it at 75 years of age! The question is, if Mick Jagger’s not rock n roll’s greatest frontman, who is? Here are 42 flamboyant facts about Mick Jagger.
Mick Jagger Facts
42. Meet Mick
Mick Jagger was raised in Dartford, England. He first attended the Wentworth Primary School, where he was schoolmates with a young Keith Richards until Jagger changed schools and the two lost touch.
41. Blues Brothers
Jagger would run into Richards at a train station seven years later. The two got to talking and realized they had lots in common, especially their love for American blues and R&B. Before long, the two formed a band. That band was called—you guessed it—“Little Boy Blue and The Blues Boys.”
40. Getting The Stone Rolling
The Blues Boys did eventually evolve into the Rolling Stones, with the addition of Richards’ flatmate, guitarist Brian Jones, as well as keyboardist Ian Stewart and drummer Charlie Watts. In those days, Jones was considered the leader of the group: in addition to playing guitar, he also acted as the band’s manager—and pocketed an extra £5 a show for his effort. Jagger was just the singer.
39. The Real Blues Brother
Jagger’s younger brother, Chris, is also a musician and actor. The two collaborated on songs for the Rolling Stones’ late-‘80s albums Dirty Work and Steel Wheels, and, more recently, on Chris’s own solo albums.
38. Family Man
Jagger has eight children. The youngest, Devereaux Octavian Basil Jagger, was born to him and his partner, ballerina Melanie Hamrick, in December 2016. By that time, Jagger was already not just a grandfather, but a great-grandfather. Jagger’s granddaughter, Assisi, had a daughter in May 2014, which means that little Devereaux has a great-niece who is older than he is.
37. Fitness Fanatic
In addition to the health benefits of his busy touring schedule, Jagger follows a personal fitness regimen which includes jogging, kickboxing, yoga, and even ballet. Jagger runs eight miles every day and trains six days a week.
36. Lyrical Lock-Up
While the Rolling Stones’ early repertoire consisted of blues and R&B covers, their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, convinced Jagger and Richards that they would make more money if they wrote their own songs, like the Beatles did. And to help them achieve that goal, Loog Oldham locked Jagger and Richards in a room together, refusing to let them out until they’d written a song.
35. The Glimmer Twins
The result of that brief imprisonment, “As Tears Go By,” became a hit for pop singer—and Jagger’s future girlfriend—Marianne Faithfull, and kicked off one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in history. Together, Jagger and Richards—who are sometimes credited as “The Glimmer Twins”—have written more than two dozen top ten hits. They were both inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1993.
34. Wrongfully Convicted
In 1967, Jagger and Richards were both arrested for separate drug offenses. Jagger was sentenced to three months in prison for possession of some over-the-counter stimulants he’d purchased in Italy. His imprisonment became a cause célèbre among the English arts and music scene, and even conservative pundits acknowledged Jagger’s sentence had been unusually harsh. The public outcry led to Jagger’s sentence being amended to a conditional discharge.
33. Acid House
Jagger once bought an old English manor house in Hampshire for the modern equivalent of $1.3 million. Not unusual for a successful musician, right? Well, he was high on acid at the time.
“Stargroves” was built in 1848. While in Jagger’s possession, it also served as a popular rest-stop and recording location for other rock bands. The Who, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Bob Marley all recorded at Stargroves before Jagger sold the property—at a profit, of course—in 1979.
31. Tax Exile On Main Street
Starting in 1971, Jagger and the rest of the Stones moved camp to the south of France in protest of England’s high tax rate. They have never properly returned to England: The Rolling Stones’ primary business is done through banks in the Netherlands, where royalty earnings are not taxed, and the Caribbean, all in an effort to keep their tax rate low.
30. Mourning in the Park
The Rolling Stones’ original guitarist, Brian Jones, left the band in 1969. Just a few weeks later, he was found dead of a drug overdose. In Jones’ memory, the band played a free concert in London’s Hyde Park. Jagger recited a poem for Jones, “Adonaïs,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
29. Sir Mick
Jagger was knighted in 2003. His old friend, Keith Richards, said he would have declined the honor because “that’s not really what the Rolling Stones is all about, is it?” Jagger defended himself, saying Tony Blair talked him into it. Very rock ‘n’ roll.
28. Cast Away
Jagger has had modest career as a film actor, appearing in movies like Ned Kelly and Performance. Even more impressive are the roles Jagger was considered for but didn’t get, including Alex in A Clockwork Orange, Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Salieri in Amadeus.
27. By Popular Demand
As a matter of fact, Jagger wasn’t the only one who wanted to see him star in A Clockwork Orange. The Beatles signed and circulated a petition to get Jagger cast. According to Jagger’s plan, the Beatles would be involved, too: Jagger would play Alex, the rest of Rolling Stones would play the Droogs, and the Beatles would provide the music.
26. The String’s the Thing
In the early ‘70s, Jagger began learning how to play guitar. Starting with 1971’s Sticky Fingers, Jagger played guitar on every Rolling Stones album, the lone exceptions being 1986’s Dirty Work and 2016’s Blue and Lonesome.
25. You Probably Think This Song Is About Him
Along with Warren Beatty, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and David Bowie, Jagger is one of the rumored subjects of Carly Simon’s song “You’re So Vain.” Jagger and Simon did have an affair in the ‘70s, but Simon has denied that Jagger is the man who is “so vain.”
24. Mystery Voice
Whether he’s the subject of the song or not, Jagger does have at least one connection to “You’re So Vain”: he sings uncredited backing vocals on the track.
According to one rumor, the Stones’ song “Angie” is about Angie Bowie, David Bowie’s ex-wife, with whom Jagger supposedly had an affair. Angie Bowie denies this, and does not believe she is the subject of the song.
22. Check, Please!
Jagger—or his name at least—was on the top of the charts once again in 2012, when Maroon 5 released “Moves Like Jagger.” The Rolling Stones frontman said he admitted the song was catchy, but that it put a lot of pressure on him to nail his dance moves. He had one other complaint as well: “You don’t earn a cent when someone calls a song ‘Moves Like Jagger.’”
If that’s so, Maroon 5 fared a whole lot better than the Verve. The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” used a six-second sample of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” prompting Jagger and Richards to demand all proceeds from the song and full writing credits. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was far and away the Verve’s biggest hit, yet they didn’t see a dime.
20. Long List of Lovers
A conservative estimate suggests that Jagger has slept with 4,000 people. That list includes everyone from Carly Simon to Angelina Jolie to—though it’s been both confirmed and denied over the years—David Bowie.
19. Mrs. Jagger
Despite his track record—or perhaps because of it—Jagger has only been married once. He and Nicaraguan actress Bianca Macías were married in 1971. They divorced in 1978.
18. That Doesn’t Count!
“Wait, but what about Jerry Hall?” you might be wondering. Funny you should ask. When Hall filed for divorce in 1998 on the grounds of infidelity, Jagger argued that their marriage—sealed by a “commitment ceremony” in Bali—was not legally valid. An English court agreed, and the marriage was declared null and void.
17. Lost Love
Jagger was in a long-term relationship with fashion designer L’Wrenn Scott from 2001 until her death by suicide in 2014. She left her fortune to him, which he used to set up a scholarship at London’s Central Saint Martins College
16. Just for Kicks
Jagger is an avid sports fan and is especially fond of cricket and soccer. In the 1970s he and a group of other British rockers tried to spread their football-fandom to the United States, buying a Philadelphia-based soccer team. American audiences didn’t share their enthusiasm, unfortunately, and the team went belly-up within three years.
15. Going Solo
Following the success of the Stones’ 1983 record Undercover, they signed a three-album deal with CBS Records. Unbeknownst to his bandmates, however, Jagger also negotiated a side-deal to include solo records. When Richards’ found out, he was furious, saying that Jagger should have put that energy into focusing on the band.
14. Godwin’s Law
Jagger’s first solo album, She’s The Boss, was released in 1985. It wasn’t quite the commercial or critical success the Rolling Stones’ albums were, but it still went platinum. Richards remained upset: he later compared She’s The Boss to Mein Kampf, saying “everybody had a copy, but nobody listened to it.”
13. Staying On Track
Richards’ criticism didn’t deter Jagger: he went on to release three more records without the band, most recently 2001’s Goddess in the Doorway, as well as a solo “greatest hits” compilation, and a record with the supergroup SuperHeavy.
12. Legal Fees
Punk rockers the Sex Pistols established themselves in opposition to millionaire rock stars like The Rolling Stones when they burst on the scene in the 1970s. Jagger had no hard feelings, however: when Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious found himself on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen in 1978, Jagger secretly paid Vicious’s legal fees.
11. Grave Expense
Jagger also secretly paid the funeral costs for blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin after Sumlin’s death in 2011. Sumlin famously backed blues legend Howlin’ Wolf and was a major influence on The Rolling Stones’ sound.
10. No Story Here
At the pleading of a publisher—and with the promise of a $1 million advance—Jagger wrote his autobiography in 1980, but ultimately decided not to publish that, or any other autobiography. British journalist John Blake claims to own the only copy of Jagger’s 75,000-word manuscript.
9. Super Group
In 2011, while taking some downtime from the Stones, Jagger and some friends put together a band and released a self-titled album. SuperHeavy was made up of Jagger, British soul singer Joss Stone, Eurhythmics guitarist Dave Stewart, reggae star Damian Marley, and Indian classical composer A.R. Rahman. The record had an adventurous, eclectic sound—Jagger even sings in Sanskrit on some tracks—but audiences and critics alike were largely ambivalent.
8. MJ And MJ
In 1984, Mick Jagger recorded the song “State of Shock” with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Jackson had originally recorded the song with Freddie Mercury and had plans to include it on Thriller, but scheduling issues forced him to re-record it with Jagger and release it as part of a Jackson family album. The song hit #3 on the charts.
He was a poster boy for the 1960s counterculture, and once declared himself an anarchist, but now considers himself a conservative, and has expressed his admiration for Margaret Thatcher.
6. A Long Walk
Jagger turned 75 in 2018, and still puts on a better show than most rockers half his age. So how does he keep in such good shape? Well the shows themselves help: over the course of a single Stones concert, Jagger struts, stomps, and staggers an estimated twelve miles.
5. Love Is Strong
By many accounts, Jagger struggled for decades with a sex addiction. At the urging of his wife, Jerry Hall, Jagger finally took steps toward getting help for his addiction. All was going well until he found himself seducing the therapist.
4. Cold Turkey
Jagger’s sex addiction wasn’t the only addiction problem Jerry Hall helped him through. When they met, Jagger was using heroin regularly, and had taken acid every single day for an entire year. Hall told Jagger she wouldn’t go out with him—even though she was married to Bryan Ferry at the time—until he got clean, spurring Jagger to quit drugs.
3. Model Student
Before his days as a swaggering rock star, Jagger had a slightly more respectable career in mind. He graduated from the prestigious London School of Economics in 1961, with plans of entering politics, before dropping out to focus on his band.
2. Assassination Attempt
A concertgoer was stabbed while the Rolling Stones performed at a 1969 concert in Altamont, California. Following the tragedy, Jagger’s denounced the Hell’s Angels, who had been hired as security for the concert. In retaliation, members of the biker gang plotted to kill Jagger. They might have gotten him, too—tracking him down to a summer home on Long Island—had the boat they were in not capsized in a sudden storm. Should’ve stuck to motorbikes, boys.
1. Slam Dunk
Jagger’s life might have turned out completely different had it not been for a gruesome accident as a child. During a game of basketball, Jagger accidentally bit through his tongue, chomping off the tip and swallowing it. The accident affected his speech: gone was his “posh” accident and in it’s place a kind of slur, giving his voice a gritty edge that would come in handy later.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30