Still Rolling: Mick Jagger turns 80 2
No sign of fatigue: Jagger performes at a Stones concert in Liverpool, United Kingdom in 2022. Image: Scott Heppell/AP/picture alliance
Culture

Still Rolling: Mick Jagger turns 80

In his 61 years as frontman of the Rolling Stones, Jagger has evolved from rebel to knight, with a colorful private life. Despite turning 80, the icon rocks on.
Shlomit Lasky | Nikolas Fischer | Jul 26 2023

It's hard to believe Mick Jagger is turning 80. He's come a long way since his early rebel days and the infamous incident in the summer of 1965, when he and his bandmates Keith Richards and Bill Wyman were fined for urinating on the wall of a London gas station.

Today, Jagger is one of the wealthiest rock stars in the world, valued at a net worth of more than $500 million.

The 1965 London episode cemented the Rolling Stones' bad boy image, which ultimately served them well: It helped them distinguish themselves from their contemporaries The Beatles, who were seen as the squeaky-clean boys next door. 

Shortly thereafter, the band's song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" became a worldwide hit and the anthem of an entire generation.

Jagger is known for being provocative in a calculated way. His diligent work ethic, however, contradicts his public image of a turbulent rebel.

Today, even Jagger himself can probably no longer separate his deliberate theatrics from what became reality. He likes to downplay the band's scandalous era, saying they were just a teen band who didn't set out to have a bad boy image.

That rebellious image had serious consequences for one member of the group, however: For Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, the wild era of drugs and alcohol led to an early death. He drowned in his swimming pool in 1969, at age 27.

The Rolling Stones in 1964: Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones
The Rolling Stones in 1964: Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones. Image: Avalon/Retna/King Collection/picture alliance

Rolling Stones and a train station

Together with Jones and their mutual friend Keith Richards, Mick Jagger started the Rolling Stones after playing gigs as a singer in Alexis Korner's London-based blues band called Blues Incorporated.

Legend has it that Jagger and Richards met at a train station in their hometown of Dartford, Kent. On that day in 1961, Jagger was on his way to London, where he was an undergraduate at the London School of Economics.

On the railway platform, he ran into his schoolmate Richards, who was also waiting for the train. The two discovered they both liked American blues and decided to meet up to make music together. About a year later, the Rolling Stones was born.

From the early days of the band, Jagger and Richards wrote their biggest hits together. As songwriting teams go, they're perhaps comparable to John Lennon and Paul McCartney from The Beatles. They also complement each other on stage: Jagger is known for his energetic and exhilarating dance moves, jumping around and swaying his hips, while the stoic Richards serves up the band's one-of-a-kind guitar riffs. 

The Rolling Stones perform in Cologne, one of many international concert appearances over their decades together
The Rolling Stones perform in Cologne, one of many international concert appearances over their decades together. Image: Malte Ossowski/SVEN SIMON/picture alliance

The Stones in Germany

It was in 1965 that Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones first took to the stage in Germany, giving a concert in the city of Münster on Sept. 11. The audience was euphoric, just as fans had been during previous tours in England and the United States.

Four days later, just 20 minutes into their concert at Berlin's Waldbühne, fans stormed the stage, the Stones left, and chaos ensued when police tried to contain the situation using force. The Waldbühne was completely trashed and had to be renovated. The media reports at the time left the conservative West Germans in shock.

 

The private Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger's private life was just as colorful as his onstage antics. In 1970, he told the German magazine Musik Express that he had no intentions of settling down for a bourgeois life with a wife and children.

A year later, he married Bianca Perez-Mora Macias. His first daughter, Karis, was born the same year — but to singer Marsha Hunt. Jagger's first marriage lasted until 1979 and the divorce cost him an estimated $2.5 million.

His relationship with former model Jerry Hall, lasted from 1977 to 1999. Other liaisons followed, such as a relationship with the American fashion designer L'Wren Scott. 

Mick Jagger and his current partner Melanie Hamrick, with whom he has a son
Mick Jagger and his current partner Melanie Hamrick, with whom he has a son. Image: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/picture alliance

He has been with the 36-year-old former ballerina Melanie Hamrick since 2014. The couple have a six-year-old son, and when British media recently spotted Hamrick with a sparkling ring on her finger, she admitted they were engaged.

However, in a statement to The Independent on July 2 this year, a representative for the Rolling Stones frontman said that reports that Jagger and Hamrick are engaged are "not true," further describing them as "ill-informed gossip."

All in all, the rock star has fathered eight children with five different women. His eldest daughter is 52. He has five grandchildren and is also a great-grandfather of two.

 

Beyond the band

In 1985, Mick Jagger released his first solo album, "She's the Boss," which struck the right chord with fans. Further albums followed, including a "Best of" compilation in 2007.

He has collaborated with a wide range of artists since 1972, including the likes of Carly Simon, Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis and David Bowie. 

The late Tina Turner and Jagger performing at a Live Aid concert in Philadelphia in 1985
The late Tina Turner and Jagger performing at a Live Aid concert in Philadelphia in 1985. Image: AP

Jagger has also made occasional appearances in film: His debut role was in "Ned Kelly" in 1970. He played a 1930s drag performer in Berlin in the drama "Bent," about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. His latest role was in the 2019 crime thriller "The Burnt Orange Heresy."

The German film director Werner Herzog once said about Jagger: "People have never given him enough credit as someone who could have been very big as an actor." 

 

Not the end of the road

In 2003, Mick Jagger was knighted by then-Prince Charles — but the decision was not without scandal. Richards had openly criticized Jagger for going pro-establishment. Queen Elizabeth also disapproved of Sir Mick, who had spent time in the same social circles as her late sister, Princess Margaret. She thought he was a bad influence and did not attend the ceremony.

In 2019, Jagger underwent a successful heart valve replacement. And in 2022, the Rolling Stones marked their 60th anniversary with the Sixty tour. Sadly, it was the first European tour without Charlie Watts, who died in 2021 at the age of 80.

Interviewed on Swedish radio station P4, Jagger said: "I am not planning it to be the last tour. I love being on tour. I don't think I would do it if I didn't enjoy it."

Mick Jagger turns 80 on July 26. For now, it doesn't seem like the iconic musician is reaching the end of the road. 

Jagger is seen here perfomring at Hyde Park in London in July 2022
Jagger is seen here perfomring at Hyde Park in London in July 2022. Image: Suzan Moore/empics/picture alliance

This is an updated version of a German article that was last published in 2018.