Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger is the subject of yet another unauthorized biography: “Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue.” This book promises to be the answer to Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ critically acclaimed best-selling memoir “Life,” which made headlines in 2010 for Richards’ insults about Jagger. (Richards also praised Jagger in “Life,” but of course the insults got more media attention.)
“Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue,” written by Marc Spitz and published by Gotham Books, goes on sale on September 8, 2011. An exclusive excerpt from the book is available by “liking” the book’s official Facebook page.
Here is a description of “Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue” from the book’s official website:
For decades, Rolling Stones’ fans and critics have debated Mick Jagger’s commitment to rock-and-roll. Many assumed that Keith Richards was the only true believer of the two. Did Mick, with his middle-class upbringing and parental support, have ulterior motives for being a rock star above and beyond a love for the music? Mick’s swagger, bed-me eyes, and intellectual prowess were certainly essential to the Stones’ early success. After their early 70s peak, however, Mick’s celebrity persona and notorious womanizing, started to perhaps obscure his considerable talent as a songwriter and musician. His partner, Keith, has, in this time, laid claim to the heart and soul of the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band. Until now, no one has really challenged this claim.
Veteran music journalist and author Marc Spitz’s sharp, funny and bold look at rock’s premiere front man, “Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue” (Gotham Books; September, 2011) reveals that Mick is truly the only Rolling Stone who has never gathered moss. He was androgynous and beautiful like the band’s late founder Brian Jones, but never as fragile. He was sybaritic, like Keith, but rarely self-destructive. In a band that based its early lyrics on the idea of freedom, Mick would emerge from the 60s, the only truly free Stone; defying expectation, often to the chagrin of the other Stones and the band’s fans. Jagger was a “lovely bunch of guys,” they’d crack. But these poses, chronicled anew in “Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue,” somehow perfectly defined their times and solidified Jagger’s place as a rock n’ roll trail blazer.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the fabled “Glimmer Twins” have a love/hate conflict that is nearly as old as rock and roll itself. As Spitz notes, it has its roots in their early years as boys in the middle-class London suburb of Dartford, where the two lived, literally and figuratively, on different side of the tracks. Later, while most of the pre-Stones band mates shared an apartment and lived on little more than potatoes and their love of the blues, Jagger always kept a foot in two worlds, attending the London School of Economics and stealing to his parents’ home for an occasional hot meal and clean laundry. Jagger’s reputation as the less hardcore and serious artist of the two has been fostered ever since, while Keith’s myth has only deepened. But it was Mick who considered becoming a radical, anti-War movement leader, Mick who made the still peerlessly perverse cult film Performance, and Mick who has always kept his ear to the ground and pursued new sounds that kept the Stones from being the blues rock war horse they might have been. Even his Knighthood, and refusal to stop shaking his behind at 67, can be seen as progressive acts along these original lines.
Drawing upon in-depth research and reporting, Jagger includes many brand new interviews with those who’ve worked with him (childhood friend and original Rolling Stones member Dick Taylor, “You’re So Vain” singer/songwriter Carly Simon, Albert Maysles, director of the legendary documentary Gimme Shelter, 70s-era Rolling Stones records chief, Marshall Chess, Neil Innes of the Rutles, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour), those who’ve praised him (activist Tariq Ali, who marched with him in protest of the Vietnam War, and ’69 tour manager Sam Cutler, who first called the Rolling Stones “The World’s Greatest Rock N’ Roll Band”) and those who, like Keith, have also questioned some of his choices (punk writer Mick Farren, and Exile in Guyville rocker Liz Phair and “Bittersweet Symphony” songwriter Richard Ashcroft of the Verve). With emphasis on two dozen key moments from Mick Jagger’s life and times, rather than a cumbersome day by day format, Spitz creates an appropriately brisk and unique portrait of a true rock and roll searcher and survivor. It’s not a pro-Mick spin job and hardly an Anti-Keith book, but rather a natural, contrarian view, designed to restore some balance to the Glimmer Twins and allow us to see Mick’s one of a kind life from a new perspective.
This is the punch Mick never returned to Keith Richards for some of what is written in his memoir “Life.” For all of the heat he has taken from the critics and the band, Mick Jagger has remained unaffected and unwilling to be drawn into the fray. His skin is as resilient and dense as Keith’s liver,” Spitz writes. While Richards has the reputation of being one of the people, Spitz concludes, “Mick Jagger, for all his jet-setting, is that common man: vulnerable, searching, skeptical, never fully pledged to something as monolithic as rock and roll. The Rolling Stones are a covenant for Keith and they are a covenant for us. For Mick, they subsidize and sometimes impede a philosophical life-search.”
One role he was never interested in playing, however, was historian. His attempt to write a memoir himself akin to Keith’s bestseller ended in Mick returning the advance. Wary of nostalgia, Mick has shied away from most interviews and only does brief press appearances to promote new Stones’ products. His story has been, and always will be, told by others and has often been told in the same way. Here at last is a different take.
It has not yet been revealed if “Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue” will include information about Jagger’s band SuperHeavy, whose lineup consists of Jagger, Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” songwriter/composer A.R. Rahman.
Super Heavy’s self-titled debut album will be released in the U.S. and Canada on September 20, 2011, and everywhere else on September 19, 2011.
“Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue” comes on the heels of another book about Jagger: “Mick Jagger: The Photobook,” which was published in October 2010 in the United Kingdom by Thames & Hudson. The paperback edition of the book went on sale in April 2011. As previously reported, select photos from the book went on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.