100 Greatest Singers

16

Mick Jagger

Angel/Retna

Born July 26th, 1943
Key Tracks "Gimme Shelter," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Satisfaction"
Influenced Jack White, Steven Tyler, Iggy Pop

I sometimes talk to people who sing perfectly in a technical sense who don't understand Mick Jagger. But what he does is so complex: His sense of pitch and melody is really sophisticated. His vocals are stunning, flawless in their own kind of perfection. There are certain songs where he just becomes a different person. Take "Angie": I've never heard that tone from him since, and it wasn't there before. And I love when he sings falsetto, like on "Emotional Rescue" or "Fool to Cry."

I like him best when he's singing super-raw. When I co-produced "God Gave Me Everything" [for Goddess in the Doorway], he did what he thought would be a scratch vocal. He barely knew the lyric — he was reading off a piece of paper. There were no stops, just one take. Bam! It ended up being the vocal we used on the record.

Mick is a disciplined artist, completely dedicated to his craft. His voice has changed somewhat and has a different texture, but it's stronger now. One time the Stones were on tour, and during a two-week break Mick and I went on vacation in the Bahamas. We'd hang out during the day, go to the beach, shop at the market, cook dinner, drink wine. In the evening he would go to the bottom floor of the place where we were staying and put on a Rolling Stones soundcheck tape — just the band playing songs without him singing. He would stay down there, dancing and singing to keep himself in shape. Your voice is like a muscle. If you're on the road and you stop for two weeks and then go back to do a show, you're going to get hoarse. So he was down there every night practicing. As a result, at 65 years of age, he's stronger than ever.

The beauty of that experience was sitting in a living room hearing "Brown Sugar" and "Satisfaction" live through the floor. That was my entertainment every night. It was very surreal.

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