PORTRAIT OF MICK

PART II


Mick is coldblooded but instinctive. And in his work his instincts are absolutely spot on and accurate most of the time. He's got a better batting average than anybody else in the league when it comes to the product... But another thing is that he's unbelievably lucky. He never knew what it was to have to struggle for something. He talked about, they all used to talk about what a hard time they had, you know, but it took him about a year and a half to come from absolutely nowhere, from being in school to being a superstar. I'm not saying what that means from a musical point of view, but from a personal point of view it meant that he had just been conditioned to a certain kind of adulation at such an early age, even when they were still comparatively young in their twenties, that they were totally imprinted with it. One thing is that he's stuck with a lot of courtiers that hardly anybody would want to have, and so a lot of his life is fucked up by that. But at the same time, again it's a question of mirrors. He's a performer, he's a star, and his beauty has been his greatest joy. That's the most important thing for him, far, far away more important than anything else... The greatest love in one's life can't compare with that thrill of performing... You see, I think all this thing about trying to find out the real person behind the artist is irrelevant. It simply isn't like that in real life, they're the same person, always breaking down into the different. It's the same person only they live in different mirrors...

     - Donald Cammell, old associate


I don't really count myself as a very sophisticated businessperson. I'm a creative artist. All I know from business I've picked up along the way. I never really studied business in school. I kind of wish I had, kind of, but how boring is that?

    - Mick Jagger, 2002


Mick is... a very nice guy. He's very easy to get on with really, when it comes to it. But as soon as there's other people in the room he'll give you the impression that he's just impossible, hard and ruthless. Some of that IS Mick because he does it often. But then Keith puts up similar fronts.

     - Ron Wood, 1979


If we weren't his friends we wouldn't still be around. The band ARE his friends but it's very hard because THEY'RE the ones with ME in the forefront that he takes most of it out on. It's very hard to be Mick's friend despite how much you want to be 'cause he never opens up. He just doesn't.

    - Keith Richards, 1979


Mick's got an ego. I insult the man. But he has the hide of a rhino, and he's just determined to be who he is. I just try and deal with it. If I see that whatever he's doing I consider to be not a great help to our enterprise, I'll stick the boot in. But it don't matter, he'll come back, have a bruise the next day, we laugh and say How you doing. He's a pretty canny character to come against. I'm a bit of a moralist when it comes to the Stones, and Mick has been a bit flippant about them. But then, what do you do with lead vocalists? They're fairies. You've got to let them have their head and then rein them in. It's basically a continual jousting.

    - Keith Richards, 2002


It's difficult to talk about Mick... because he always changes, so maybe he's always been the same. Mick is always flitting about; never happy or always happy. One minute he'll be knocked out with a track and not like it the next minute.

    - Charlie Watts


Mick has one of those minds and bums. His bum won't sit still and his mind doesn't either. It's always onwards, onwards, onwards - like yesterday is history already. So it's very difficult for him to keep his interest in a band that is so steeped in history - at least, that's my slant on him.

    - Charlie Watts, 1998


He's wonderful with children, very patient, very good and sweet. He really likes them and

treats them like people.
   - Christopher Gibbs


I think I'm a pretty good father. I have a nice affinity with children, not just my own. I like taking bunches of kids out for the day. Kids keep you young and they keep you laughing.

     - Mick Jagger


Mick becomes a totally different person on tour. Instead of the nice, gentle, gentlemanly guy I live with, he becomes this incredible egomaniac. If you took it literally, you'd think: God, this guy is rude. On tour he never opens the door for anyone. That's unheard of. He goes toward a door and you follow three steps behind. And if the door slams in your face, that's too bad.

    - Jerry Hall, in Jerry Hall's Tall Tales, 1985


I find it quite easy to detach myself from Mick's private life, but then it's ludicrous because it's not private at all. I sometimes see what the old bugger wants in life, he's intent on being Casanova or Don Juan. He's always looking for it, which is a little cruel on his loved ones. But he's always been like that. I don't talk to Mick about his love life, because it's like Whoops! You've skidded on another banana skin!

    - Keith Richards, 1999


In all honesty, (in 1985-87) it was Mick decided that he could do... I don't know whether he could do better is the best phrase, but he felt, actually, that the Rolling Stones were like a millstone around his neck... He said, I don't need this bunch of old farts. Little do you know, Sunny Jim. I spoke to him about it the other week, because now he wants to put the Stones back together - because there's nowhere to go... I think that there is on Mick's part a little bit of a Peter Pan complex...

      - Keith Richards, 1988


I mean, I'll be totally honest: I LOVE Mick. Most of my efforts with Mick go to trying to open his eyes... I mean, 99% of the male population of the Western world - and beyond - would give a LIMB to live the life of Riley, to live the life of Jagger. To be MICK JAGGER. And he's not happy being Mick Jagger. He's not living a happy life. To me, that's unacceptable. I've GOT to make him happy (laughs)... The siege mentality kind of worries me about Mick. Nobody can get in there, even me, who's known him longer than anybody. What bothers me sometimes about him is not being able to get through to him. He's got his own version about himself, which is not actually who he is. So he has to play a game; he has to act. He's not about to give you ANYTHING. He's not about to give ANYTHING away. He'll be flip. And I don't mind him reading this shit, because this is part of, as far as I'm concerned, my attempt to help him along...

    - Keith Richards, 1988


You'd imagine Mick would be the happiest person in the world, and yet a lot of the times he isn't. Being with him I know.

    - Charlie Watts, 2000


My battles with Mick are on many levels. I understand the desperation of somebody like that, the insecurity that says, Until I am sure of myself I can't let anybody get too close, or I'll get really confused. It's hard going for that frontman gig like Mick does. It's hard being out front. You gotta be able to make it work; you gotta be able to actually believe you're semidivine when you're out there, then come off stage and know that you ain't. And that's the problem: eventually, the reaction time gets slower... Mick happens to be an incredible entertainer. Without Mick, the Stones would never have gone anywhere.

    - Keith Richards, 1989


I don't think (Mick) thinks he needs anybody's help. But I wonder if he's realized that he's way out on a limb. I feel like I'm his only friend. I know the way he lives. I know everybody else who knows him. I know that Charlie Watts dished him out a great fucking right hook and that was Charlie Watts saying, You and I have had it. It was 1984 or '85  (actually, October 1984, during a band meeting before the start of the Stones' recording sessions for Dirty Work in January 1985) and... Charlie punched him into a plate full of smoked salmon and he almost floated out the window along the table into a canal in Amsterdam. I just grabbed his leg and saved him from going out... (The fight) was about absolutely nothing. I had taken Mick out for a drink in Amsterdam, so at 5 in the morning, he came back to my room. He's drunk by now, Mick drunk is a sight to behold. Charlie was fast asleep. Is that my drummer? Why don't you get your arse down here? Charlie got dressed in a Savile Row suit, tie, shoes, shaved, came down, grabbed him and went boom! Don't ever call me "your drummer" again. You're my fucking singer. That was Charlie's way of saying, It's over, man. It went really downhill after that. If there was one other friend Mick had, it was Charlie. On top of that, Mick was very stupid. He forgave Charlie. There's nothing to forgive. Nothing left to forgive.

        - Keith Richards, 1989


(The fight with Charlie) never actually happened like that. He pushed me, but I don't think he actually punched me. There's quite a lot of difference, in my book.

    - Mick Jagger, 1997


I had a row with Mick, about attitude I suppose. With a lot of these things, when you're in a band it's a bit like having a row in the family. You know, it's over and you very rarely ever mention it again. That's what these things are like. They're like brother things.

    - Charlie Watts, 1998

I was drunk (when that incident happened). I was really pissed off. It's not something I'm proud of... I'm closer to Mick than I've ever been. I think Jerry's done that. The children and that. He's grown up a lot.
    - Charlie Watts, 1997


(Mick)'ll never lie about in a hammock, just hanging out. Mick has to dictate to life. He wants to control it. To me, life is a wild animal. You hope to deal with it when it leaps at you. That is the most marked difference between us. He can't go to sleep without writing out what he's going to do when he wakes up. I just hope to wake up, and it's not a disaster. My attitude was probably formed by what I went through as a junkie. You develop a fatalistic attitude toward life. He's a bunch of nervous energy. He had to deal with it in his own way, to tell life what's going to happen rather life telling you. (He wasn't so much like that in 1965.) Not so much. He's very shy, in his own way. It's pretty funny to say that about one of the biggest extroverts in the world. Mick's biggest fear is having his privacy. Mick sometimes treats the world as if it's attacking him. It's his defense, and that has molded his character to a point where sometimes you feel like you can't get in yourself. Anybody in the band will tell you that. But it comes from being in that position for so long - being Mick Jagger.

    - Keith Richards, 2002


I think it's kind of cliché, really. People like to pop-analyze others, put them into boxes and say, Oh, Keith's so passionate, and Mick's cold and dispassionate. People aren't like that in real life. Keith can be as cold and dispassionate as almost anyone I know. I don't mean that as a criticism, because you have to be sometimes. People have different natures. Talking about yourself as a person, not just as part of a band, I don't know where to separate or not. I have to be analytical sometimes, outside of music, then I have to be feeling as well. I have to see other people's points of view. If I'm talking business with someone, I try to see their point of view. You step back and analyze it. You don't need to be emotional with these things. But that doesn't mean that I'm not passionate about the musical side of it. I can be really emotional about it. You have to be all things at once. I get very excited about designing stage sets and things like that, graphics and merchandise. I work sometimes with Charlie on them, and we get very excited about these things. I have lots of different roles within the Rolling Stones, and then I have roles outside of the Rolling Stones that have nothing that have nothing to do with the Rolling Stones at all. So I don't want to be pigeonholed that I'm one thing.

        - Mick Jagger, 2013

Mick's not good on his own problems, but he's very good at other people's. He's been wonderful over the years. I don't mean I ring him up every week and say The tap doesn't work, but he's fantastic.

    - Charlie Watts, 2000


Mick and I are still getting used to actually enjoying working together again... Mick goes through his things. But to me Mick seems to be 10 times happier than I've seen him, and comfortable within the band and what he's doing and really into it. You know, he's lost some of that star-trip thing that was pissing me off during the '80s. He's starting to appreciate the basic comforts of comradeship again, and that's great.

    - Keith Richards, 1994


(I)'ve been living like this for so long that if I stop - if I stop doing it, it's bound to affect me, you know. It's an overwhelming feeling, the audience. That must be why most of these people never give up performing. Because they just can't go without that sort of rush. It's a bit like having an orgasm. Sometimes an orgasm is better than being onstage; sometimes being onstage is better than an orgasm.

    - Mick Jagger, 1975


It would be nice to have another shot. Instead of me being a rock singer, I could have done something else. You hope you've done something right, you've spent an awful long time on it, so you better be bloody right. Did you waste a lot of time? Yes, you've wasted a lot of time. Did you use your intellectual and physical gifts? Yes and no. Because I don't think rock and roll is as intellectually taxing as other things. It's not particularly challenging. So you get intellectually lazy. I don't think anyone is ever satisfied with what they've done.

    - Mick Jagger, 1995


Up in Suite 2907 of the Four Seasons in Toronto, Mick sank down into the plush depths of his beige velvet couch and invited me to do the same. Jerry Hall opened up us both frosty bottles of Heineken and rolled us a nice homemade Bull Durham cigarette and we fired it up and passed it around. Jerry, in her skin-tight jeans and tighter-than-skin green sweater, sat down and started tickling Mick with her bare feet. Mick ignored her and put on a tape from the Oshawa show. It takes him hours to wind down after a show. We wanted to do it as uncommercially as possible, Mick said. We refused these bullshit 4-page newspaper ads of "so-and-so congratulates the Rolling Stones". This was fun... fun, Mick said as he got up to turn the volume up. We were surrounded and assaulted and caressed by the Rolling Stones. I can never forget watching him standing there, reflected in three mirrors in the living room, Jerry Hall and I each reflected, watching Mick as he stood with his hands on the controls of his Aiwa cassette deck. He withdrew deeper and deeper into himself as he listened to himself and his band. Intently listening, laughing at a mistake, punching triumphantly with his fist into the air when he heard himself hitting the note, smiling and nodding when Keith was hitting the notes. He turned once, to acknowledge us briefly, as he started dancing to the Rolling Stones. Dancing first to his lover and his guest. Then to himself. And then just to the Rolling Stones. Just to the Rolling Stones.

    - Chet Flippo, writing about the Stones' benefit
concerts for the blind in Canada in April 1979

 
 

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