Besides maybe only Elvis Presley, no rock & roll singer has been as influential as Mick Jagger, the pouty-lipped, hip-shaking frontman of the Rolling Stones. In the Sixties, Jagger established ironic detachment as a hallmark of British Invasion-era rock and began turning heads with his not-so-subtle double entendres and sinuous dance moves. He was the most assured appropriator of African-American performers' up-front sexuality, yet he was hard to pigeonhole: He alternately sounded black, very English, jaded, fired up, horny, and bored.
Though he was a model of rock decadence, Mick Jagger has always been, as Lenny Kravitz called him, a "disciplined artist." Aside from his music, which also includes solo records and notable guest appearances, Jagger has worked in film, both as an actor and producer. Throughout his career, he wrote, co-wrote, or appeared on literally scores of beloved rock songs, mastered the art of showmanship, and influenced generations of rock & roll performers.
Born Michael Phillip Jagger on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, England, he began singing in his church choir. His father, Joe, was a teacher, and his mother, Eva, an Australian immigrant who was active in England's Conservative Party. His brother, Chris, is also a singer.
While studying accounting and finance at the London School of Economics on a scholarship, Jagger reunited with a childhood friend, guitarist Keith Richards, who shared his interested in American blues and R&B. In 1962, Jagger, Richards and guitarist Brian Jones formed the Rolling Stones. Jagger's bluesy vocals and spastic, often sexually suggestive stage moves got the band pegged as troublemakers — the opposite of the more clean-cut, congenial Beatles.
During the Stones' most fertile years in the late Sixties and early Seventies, Jagger began taking on outside projects, mostly film roles and musical collaborations. His first solo work was the single "Memo from Turner," which he sang in Nicholas Roeg's dark, experimental film Performance,. The movie starred Jagger as a reclusive, sex- and drugs-obsessed former rocker who'd lost his mojo. It wrapped in 1968 but wasn't released until 1970.
That year Jagger also starred in Tony Richardson's critically panned western Ned Kelly, contributing a folk ballad, "The Wild Colonial Boy," to its soundtrack. Jagger also had written and performed a bizarre Moog synthesizer instrumental for the soundtrack to Kenneth Anger's homoerotic experimental short film of 1969, Invocation of My Demon Brother.
In 1972 Jagger appeared uncredited as backup vocalist on Carly Simon's Number One single "You're So Vain." (Some speculated the song was written about him a claim Jagger has denied.) Jagger focused on the Stones for the next six years, but in 1978 he dueted with reggae star Peter Tosh on the single "(You Got To Walk And) Don't Look Back," which reached Number 85.
In the early Eighties Jagger was slated to star in German director Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, but dropped out due to logistical problems. Some of the footage wound up in the 1982 documentary of Fitzcarraldo's filming, Burden of Dreams.
In 1984 Jagger dueted with Michael Jackson on the Jacksons' Number Three single "State of Shock." The following year, more than two decades after the Rolling Stones formed, Jagger released his first solo album, She's the Boss (Number 13, 1985), which featured guest spots from Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck and Herbie Hancock, and produced the Number 12 single "Just Another Night." Later that year, Jagger and David Bowie's duet on the 1964 Martha and the Vandellas hit "Dancing in the Street" topped the singles chart and became an MTV staple.
After the Stones released Dirty Work in 1986, Jagger and Richards began verbally sparring in the press and there were rumors of a Stones breakup. The following year Jagger returned with his second solo album, Primitive Cool, which only reached Number 41; its single, "Let's Work," barely made it into the Top Forty.
In the late Eighties and early Nineties Jagger refocused on the Stones and appeared in the 1992 sci-fi flick Freejack. The following year he released his third solo album, Wandering Spirit (Number 11, 1993), which he co-produced with Rick Rubin. The album featured guest appearances from Lenny Kravitz and bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Although Spirit was Jagger's first solo album to win substantial critical accolades, it failed to produce a significant single.
Jagger again turned his attention back to the Stones as well as his film work, forming his own production company, Jagged Films, in 1995, and appearing as a drag queen in 1997's Bent. Four years later he released his fourth solo album, Goddess in the Doorway (Number 39, 2001); his film company produced a promotional documentary on the making of the album called Being Mick. The album received wildly mixed reviews, some christening it an instant classic and others calling it bland and formulaic. (Keith Richards mockingly referred to it as "Dogshit in the Doorway.")
In 2002 Jagger appeared in the psycho-sexual drama The Man from Elysian Fields. The following year he was knighted by the Prince of Wales for his "services to music." The honor was controversial not just among establishment figures but also among fans and even members of his band. Richards remarked to the BBC that knighthood is "not what the Stones is about, is it?" Jagger refocused on the Stones upcoming A Bigger Bang album and long world tour, and then in 2007 released a collection of his solo recordings, The Very Best of Mick Jagger, which followed his career from "Memo from Turner" onward. That year he also produced and acted in the short-lived ABC sitcom The Knights of Prosperity.
Jagger has been romantically linked with a string of celebrity actors, singers and models, including Chrissie Shrimpton, Marianne Faithful, Carly Simon and many others. He's been married twice: first to Nicaraguan Bianca Pérez-Mora Macías, a former actor and model, in 1970; and second to model Jerry Hall, in 1990. He divorced Hall in 1999.
Jagger has sired seven children with four different women: model and singer Marsha Hunt had daughter Karis Hunt Jagger (born Nov. 4, 1970); Bianca Jagger had daughter Jade Sheena Jezebel Jagger (born Oct. 21, 1971); Jerry Hall had Elizabeth Scarlett Jagger (born Mar. 2 1984), James Leroy Augustin Jagger (born Aug. 28 1985), Georgia May Ayeesha Jagger (born Jan. 12, 1992), and Gabriel Luke Beauregard Jagger (born Dec. 13, 1997), all with Jerry Hall; and model Luciana Gimenez Moradson had Lucas Maurice Morad Jagger (born May 18, 1999). Jagger has four grandchildren. As of 2008, he was reportedly dating fashion designer L'Wren Scott.
Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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