Ray's tweets

    follow me
    Ray Connollymail@rayconnolly.co.uk
    View All Articles
    AutobiographicalBeatles FileInterviewsNewsRandom Pieces
    2011 archive
    Journalism RSS  
    join my mailing list
    * indicates required
    Share |

    Journalism

    Mick Jagger

    Category: Interviews
     

    Mick Jagger - London Evening Standard, December 1967

                For three years he’s been a kaleidoscope personality, and the best feed-man for tired comics in the business. Two years ago Maureen Cleave worried whether you’d let your daughter marry him – although there’s such a thing as chance. Then last summer he was Mick the Martyr, when Judge Block sent him down for three months for possessing cannabis – before becoming Mick the Championed when the Lord Chief Justice brought him back up again.

                And in between, he’s been variously Mick the Dirty, Mick the Dandy, always Mick the Sexy – but mainly Mick the Provocative.

                He’s now twenty-four, and as uncompromising and arrogant as ever. his hair, always the arch-provocation, hanging ironically like a judge’s wig on to his shoulders, so that he looks rather like a camped-up Robespierre.

                And this week, when two of the national daily newspapers were discovering for the twenty-third time since 1962 that the old moral order is taking a knocking from Britain’s 4,000,000 or so teenagers, I visited him at his vast fourth-floor Marylebone Road flat.

                Actually, it isn’t so much a flat as an Indian bazaar, with a very good line in numdah rugs and French wood-wormed eighteenth century high chairs. He lives there alone, apart from when his younger brother, Chris, goes to stay. (‘I don’t think he resents me, although it may get to be a bit of a drag sometimes.’) And he has a Spanish maid who goes in to look after him every day.

                We sit on an island of violently coloured Dunlopillo cushions. Mick, when he isn’t fidgeting and wriggling, is cross-legged and shoeless.

                He is in his knocking-about-the-house gear – puce pants with clown’s cravat to match, and a cosmic cotton shirt with stars and moons and other celestial objects printed on it. Round his waist is a sequined, tasselled belt which he bought in the King’s Road. He bought his socks at Marks and Spencer.

                So far there are no signs that he is thinking about marrying anybody’s daughter. He believes, in fact, that marriage is becoming outdated, and, in Western society, is going into a gradual decline. He says: ‘It’s just one form of social behaviour. We’re all animals really. And marriage is just a primitive institution which we still have. Personally, I like the idea of two people living together. It’s better than ten people living together.

                ‘I can understand women wanting to get married, because they know that their man can always run off with another woman. And, as they’re dependent on him, they have to make it that bit harder for him to get out of his obligations. But I don’t really see why men want to get married. I don’t fancy getting married at all, but I can see that I would if I ever met anyone that I really loved and who wanted to marry me. Marianne? Well, she doesn’t want to get married, and anyways she’s already married to someone else. So she doesn’t come into it.’

                He’s confident that society in general will eventually catch up with him, and that his mode of behaviour will become the norm. It will, however, be a slow process. ‘We can only go as fast as the slowest member of society, so there’ll be no moral chaos, but a gradual breaking down of traditions.

                ‘In a small society the pressures to conform are immense, but in a big city like this, and especially when you’re mixing with people who don’t care, it’s very easy to do exactly as you like. In the year 2000, no one will be arrested for drugs and that sort of thing. It will be laughable, just like it would be laughable if people were still hanged for stealing sheep.

    These things have to be changed, but it takes maniacs obsessed with individual microcosmic issues to bring it about. I could get ever so obsessed about the drugs thing, and if I really worked hard at it I might speed up the process of reform by perhaps ten years, or five years, or perhaps only six months. But I don’t feel that it’s important enough.’

                At the moment the most important thing to him is the success of his new album – perversely titled ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’     In three-and-a-half years the Rolling Stones have sold over forty-two million pounds’ worth of records, but this is the first one they’ve produced entirely by themselves since parting from their ‘creative manager’, Andrew Oldham.

                On the cover, which is reputed to have cost over £10,000 for the design by Sergeant Pepper man, Michael Cooper, is a 3-D photograph of Mick and friends in pantomime outfits. Mick is wearing a wizard’s hat. Apart from a couple of ominous death-rattles which sound as though someone had passed away on the session, there’s nothing on the record to which anyone could take exception – unless of course you find it pretentious. Said Mick, ‘I don’t think we’re becoming alienated from the fans. In America, over half our fans are between the ages of twenty and thirty.’

                What about moral responsibility to fans? I asked. ‘If any moral responsibility exists at all for the artist, it is to turn everybody on to what he thinks and what he’s doing. When judges talk about moral responsibility they mean “Be cool. Don’t say anything.” In America they told us, “Don’t tell people to take LSD, and don’t tell people not to go to Vietnam!”

    That’s what they think moral responsibility is – kow-towing to their scene. But it’s really the complete opposite. What this country needs now is a new moral direction. If we had that, the economic thing would follow automatically. Britain doesn’t know where her moral destiny lies any more. All we hear is compromise and mismanagement – because a socialist government can’t work in a capitalist system.

                ‘They should really lay it down instead of grovelling at the feet of de Gaulle and Johnson. They keep coming out with moral justifications for their actions, when everybody knows that the real reasons are economic. What use is Britain to mankind today? The only role she can play is that of a moral leader.’

                He has no regrets about leaving university to become a rock and roll singer – ‘Well that’s what I used to be, didn’t I?’ He says the question should be: ‘Have I any regrets about ever going to the London School of Economics? But, you know, I often wonder what all the other people who were there with me are doing now. I haven’t seen any of them for years.’

                He’d clearly never even noticed me.

    back to the top of the page