The Rolling Stones’ frontman may be way past the official “retirement age” but that is not a term that exists in his dictionary
He was already a music legend before most of us were even born. He has led the rock & roll lifestyle for close to six decades, and what would have killed lesser men eons ago, only made him better, cooler, and stronger. Today, Mick Jagger is turning 75 and he is celebrating his milestone birthday by doing what he loves best – rocking it up.
Born on 26 July 1943 in Dartford, England, into a middleclass family of a teacher and a hairdresser, young Michael studied at the prestigious University of London and the London School of Economics. But he cut his academic pursuit short when a fluke catapulted his newly founded garage band The Rolling Stones to overnight global stardom. On July 12, 1962, band & blues veteran Alexis Korner was to appear on BBC but his management accidentally double-booked him at the oh so hip Marquee Club, and he pursued that engagement. The BBC scrambled to find a replacement and hit upon Mick Jagger and his band buddies Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Ian Stewart. In fact, it was the first time ever they were playing together publicly, and they vehemently insisted on being anything but a rock & roll band – they wanted to be seen as creators and disruptors. This first show went well enough for them to stay together. A short while later, drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman joined the new formation. Ian Stewart, physically not deemed a good fit for this group, was relegated to the role of pianist and tour organizer. While all were talented musicians in their own right, one stood out right from the get-go for his oversize personality and talent: Mick Jagger.
Overtaking the considerably more conformist Beatles in popularity, the Rolling Stones became the heroes of the rebellious teenage generation of the late 60s and early 70s, with Mick Jagger as its unlikely sex symbol. Girls went crazy over the lanky singer, camped out at tour hotels, and were devastated when in 1971 he married Bianca de Macias, the elegant and highly educated daughter of a Nicaraguan diplomat. What his management carefully concealed from the public and what few of his fans understood was that Mick, for all his public image as the quintessential bad boy, was actually a rather homely man with family values … well, relatively speaking of course, to the extent that his life on the road permitted. But marriage and children were indeed integral parts of his life concept, and after his divorce from Bianca, he wound up in a series of long-term relationships with some of the world’s most beautiful and glamorous women, fathering eight children along the way.
The rest is documented Rock & Roll Hall of Fame history that has earned the distinguished singer-songwriter, musician, composer and actor a knighthood for services to popular music in 2002. Solo ventures along the way as well as multiple excursions into acting were successful but Mick Jagger has the band life in his genes and has stayed faithful to it all those years.
Offstage, the counterculture rocker has made a name for himself as a philanthropist, an avid sports supporter, and – despite his anti-establishmentarian philosophy – and an open supporter of the British Conservative party.
Mick Jagger may be a father, grandfather and even great-grandfather by now, but on his 75th birthday today he and his bandmates are still on the road and playing to sold-out houses wherever in the world they take their act. Chances are that the forever-young Stones frontman will still tour when your grandchildren are old enough to go to rock concerts. And they, too, will find him every bit as sexy as your grandparents did before them.
“Peace, peace! He is not dead, he doth not sleep / He has awakened from the dream of life.”
Mick Jagger, reciting Percy Bysshe Shelley
Lead image by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash