By: Renee Grant
When you’re Mick Jagger, stories about your rock n’ roll lifestyle could easily fill several books. Thirty years ago, Mick wrote some of those stories down, but it seems he completely forgot.
The memoir, about 75,000 words, was written by Jagger in the early 80’s. At the time, Jagger was tired of unauthorized biographies being written about the Rolling Stones. Book publisher George Weidenfeld convinced Jagger that the way to shut down all the unauthorized books, was to write one of his own. Jagger was paid a $1,000,000 advance for the manuscript. What happens next is a bit sketchy.
It’s been said that Jagger approached the band’s archivist, Bill Wyman, for help in doing some research for the book, but Wyman was ready to write a book of his own on the group. At that point, years of drug abuse had left Mick without a recollection of what he should write, so he decided he would return the advance to Weidenfeld. However, book publisher John Blake now owns the manuscript that Mick doesn’t remember writing.
“I thought that was the end of the story until three years ago, when a mutual friend handed me a pristine typescript Mick had written,” Blake writes in an essay for The Spectator. “I was dumbfounded. This was the rock ’n’ roll equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So far as I have been able to ascertain, a publisher rejected the manuscript because it was light on sex and drugs.”
Wyman contacted Mick in the hopes of publishing the forgotten missive, but that story takes a few turns as well.
“I was determined that this book needed to be published. Mick’s delightful manager, Joyce Smyth, responded encouragingly to my letter,” says Wyman. “Mick could not remember any manuscript. Please could I show it to him? Once he saw it, he asked if he could write a foreword to establish that he wrote this story long ago and far away.”
He goes on to say, “but then, as is the way with the Rolling Stones, life took over. There was a tragic death, a tour, a film, a TV series, the Saatchi exhibition. I kept gently pushing but when, eventually, I tried to force a decision, the steel gates clanged shut. Mick wanted nothing further to do with this project. He never wanted to see it published.”
Jagger has said over the years that he would never write a memoir, yet we now know that he did. Here’s hoping someone can convince him again to let fans read the story.