SOME things never change. We whinge about the weather; we drink warm beer; we apologise if someone steps on our toes; we take pride in our striped lawns – and we know The Rolling Stones will go on forever. But suddenly the natural order has been cast adrift as we come to terms with the absurd idea that Sir Mick Jagger is a mere mortal after all and that, to borrow a famous Rolling Stones line “this could be the last time, I don’t know”. Or, rather, that the last time has been and gone for the “greatest rock and roll band in the world” and that retirement beckons for Jagger, 75, Keith Richards, 75, Charlie Watts, 77, and Ronnie Wood, 71.
Yes, of course, the indefatigable Jagger is upbeat. “I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can,” he says.
But it’s just possible that the men in white coats – in other words, his doctors – might pull the performing plug on someone who for decades has defied his age.
On Saturday night news broke that The Rolling Stones’ entire North American tour was being postponed after more than a million people had spent an estimated £200million on tickets at 17 sell-out venues across the United States and Canada.
A statement from the band began gravely: “Mick has been advised by doctors that he cannot go on tour at this time, as he needs medical treatment,” but it ended positively, saying that “he is expected to make a complete recovery.”
What exactly is wrong with him remains a mystery but it’s thought that “something untoward” was found during a medical screening to which all members of the group submit themselves before the start of a tour.
There have been postponements in the recent past. Severe laryngitis forced Jagger to pull out of a concert in Las Vegas in 2016 and two years earlier the Australian leg of a world tour had to be rescheduled following the suicide of Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott.
But this latest episode sounds like a serious setback – and a powerful reminder of what a phenomenal specimen Jagger has been ever since the Rolling Stones burst upon the pop scene in 1962.
For those of us over the age of 50 who struggle to put our socks on without sitting down and can’t conceal our middle-age spreads, Jagger has been a disconcerting figure.Annoying, too.
As we get fatter, he gets slimmer; as our hair falls out, his locks flow as silkily as ever; as we only dare wear tight, skimpy T-shirts at fancy dress parties or at a friend’s 60th birthday he looks ravishing in floral jackets and tight trousers. And as much as we might refer defensively to his wrinkly face and neck, we know he’s in better shape than many men half his age.
In the past he may have consumed his fair share of drink and drugs and got himself into scrapes with the law (including a brief period in prison) but his discipline over the last few decades has been extraordinary.
Anyone seeing The Rolling Stones perform would be tempted to ask – as he skips and runs about the stage for up to three hours: “What on earth is he on?” To which the answer is a fastidious diet of superfoods, smoothies, beans, chicken, fish, whole-grain pasta and avocado.
He is practically teetotal, doesn’t smoke and looks after himself with the help of cod liver oil, ginseng and ginkgo biloba, the latter a herbal extract from a Chinese tree.
He runs up to 12 miles a day (and is thought to cover eight miles during any one concert), cycles, kickboxes, takes ballet lessons, practises yoga and meditates.
WHAT’S more – and despite all the riches of the world – he keeps a steely eye on the group’s finances and is a shrewd reader of both the fine art and stock markets. He makes a point of turning up at major football and cricket matches to cheer on England and, we are led to believe, is a loyal and loving father to his eight children – who, astonishingly, range in age from 49 to just over 30 months.
And, of course, he remains an enigmatic figure. In interviews he never gives much away and seldom do his ex-lovers spill the beans about his peccadillos. Any personal criticism mainly has come from Keith Richards, the schoolfriend with whom he launched the band and who has also co-written so many of the Stones’ greatest songs. But even Richards struggles to land any telling blows. Only last week he said: “I love the man 99 per cent of the time. Mick knows what I mean and he’ll say the same about me.”
At one point it seemed that Jagger would reveal all in an autobiography. Lord Weidenfeld offered him a £1million advance. According to the publisher John Blake, Jagger wrote a 75,000-word memoir in the 1980s but it has never seen the light of day.
Blake claims to have the manuscript and repeatedly asks the Stones’ manager Joyce Smith for permission to publish it but the answer is always “no”. Should Jagger ever change his mind, there would be plenty of cash on the table given that Richard’s book commanded a £5million advance.
So get well soon, Mick, you old (and you really are old) rogue.You, like the Queen, have been there forever and some of us would like you to go on forever, prancing about with an undeniable sex appeal that makes millions of women swoon and consumes millions of men with jealousy.
LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST FRONTMAN
- At primary school, Mick broke the record for a half-mile and sang in the local church choir.
- He has eight children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild but has only been married once – to Bianca Jagger. His “marriage” to Jerry Hall was declared not legally valid by a British court.
- A conservative estimate suggests he has slept with 4,000 women.
- When David Bowie was starting up he said: “I used to dream of being Mick Jagger.”
- Mick graduated from the Left-wing London School of Economics but ended up a supporter of Margaret Thatcher.
- When Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, Mick and other members of the band moved to France in protest against high income tax.
- It was reported that Jerry Hall persuaded Mick to have therapy for sex addiction – but he found himself trying to seduce the therapist.