What You Didn't Know About Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger's life may seem to live up to all the rock star stereotypes: decades of musical fame, multiple children by different mothers, drug arrests, and some iconic signature moves. But his middle-class family had a very different life in mind for him. Born in Dartford in 1943, Jagger was always a performer, as he told Independent. At family parties "in those days like before we had phones," he used to regularly entertain his relatives. "Everyone had to do something back then. You had to do a turn," the singer recalled. "I used to do lots of imitations. I did songs. Dances, you know, to anything."

When he was "about 14," the young boy would secretly find local bands to sing with. "I wouldn't tell my parents what I was doing but I would go and sit in with these naff rock bands and do a couple of numbers and then go off and see how it went," Jagger revealed, adding that it was "fun" but that he didn't "think [he] really knew anything of what [he] was doing."

Jagger's family was full of teachers like his father and grandfather, however, and they wanted their boy to head in a more academic direction, per Reader's Digest. Keep reading to discover more about Sir Mick and his path to rock and roll stardom.

He met Keith Richards at school, but lost contact for years

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are one of the most iconic songwriting duos in rock music. And songs like "Jumping Jack Flash" and "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction" would never have existed if not for a chance encounter at a train station.

The Glimmer Twins first met at Wentworth Primary School when they were children, according to the BBC, but lost touch when they both left for different secondary schools. The pair reconnected as teenagers after bumping into each other at the train station in Dartford. In his autobiography "Life," Richards shared a letter that he wrote to his Aunt Patty soon after their meeting, in which he described "a guy I knew at primary school" approaching him.

As Richards had a Chuck Berry record with him, the pair struck up a conversation about music. "He's got every record Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have too, they are all rhythm and blues fans, real R&B I mean," the guitarist wrote enthusiastically, describing how he decided to look Jagger up afterward. Richards even gushed about the other boy's vocal ability. "Beside that Mick is the greatest R&B singer this side of the Atlantic and I don't mean maybe," he told his aunt.

He abandoned his finance degree to join the Rolling Stones

Given Mick Jagger's reputation as an anti-establishment figure, fans might be surprised to learn that he joined the Rolling Stones while still studying finance and accounting at university. Jagger was a student at the London School of Economics when he started to play shows alongside his newly rediscovered friend Keith Richards. As he joked to Rolling Stone, the band only had about "one gig a month" at the beginning, so it wasn't hard to balance schoolwork with his dreams of musical stardom. "We just couldn't get any work," the singer added. Once the popularity of the Stones started to take off, however, Jagger had a decision to make.

"It was very, very difficult because my parents obviously didn't want me to do it," he revealed, admitting that his father was "absolutely furious" at the idea of Jagger dropping out. "I'm sure he wouldn't have been so mad if I'd have volunteered to join the army. Anything but this." The singer agreed that it was "totally stupid" to chase music as a career, but stated that he found his course "dull" anyway.

Jagger has also expressed regret over not doing something different with his life, as he told the BBC. "I thought of being a journalist once," he confessed. "It's a slightly intellectually, undemanding being a rock singer but you know you make the best of it."

He started writing songs because of the Beatles

During their early days, the Rolling Stones started out by playing covers. And before Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started writing their own songs, they were given a Beatles tune.

One of their first hits was "I Wanna Be Your Man," as Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1968, which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. "They said they had this tune," he recalled, adding that the song "sounded pretty commercial" before the Stones performed it with an "Elmore James" twist. And when he later inducted the Beatles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jagger noted that "the example of the way they wrote and the original way they crafted their songs wasn't lost on us," adding that despite their early "rivalry," the two bands were always friendly.

When the time came for Jagger and Richards to actually write their own song, their manager reportedly had to take extreme measures, as the biography "Marianne Faithfull: As Years Go By" recorded. "So what Andrew Oldham did was lock us up in the kitchen for a night and say, 'Don't come out without a song,'" Richards revealed, describing how the unconventional writing session produced a hit for singer Marianne Faithfull. "It was unlike most Rolling Stones material, but that's what happens when you write songs." It took a while for them to produce any songs for their own band, as Richards noted. Once they had written "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction," however, the rest was history.

Tina Turner claims she taught him how to dance

One of the hallmarks of Mick Jagger's performances is his characteristic dancing. The Rolling Stones frontman's mannerisms are so distinctive that they even inspired the Maroon 5 song, "Moves Like Jagger."

But the origins of those moves are often disputed. Tina Turner, who described Jagger as being like a brother to her, told the Daily Mail in 2017 that she taught him how to perform. "Mick wanted to dance — and I was a dancer — but he never gave me the credit!" the singer commented. "He said his mother taught him how to dance." Turner went on to describe how she and "the girls" introduced him to the Pony dance move in a dressing room.

Jagger did credit his mother with his initial dance training, as he told his brother, Christopher, in Rolling Stone. "Mum tried to teach me, and we waltzed around the living room to the strains of Victor Sylvester," the rock star recalled, adding that he was "hopeless" during those childhood lessons. "We would trot around the room attempting the steps, with me trying not to tread on Mum's toes." The singer also pointed to soul legend James Brown as an inspiration, calling him a "huge influence," adding, "It wasn't just the moves he made – it was the energy he put into it that was amazing," Jagger concluded.

He was arrested thanks to a tabloid tip-off

The Rolling Stones made headlines throughout the Sixties and Seventies for their rebellious behavior. Their relationship with the U.K. newspapers was turbulent, as the 1967 Redlands bust proved. According to "Mick," a chauffeur hired by Richards had given an anonymous tip to News of the World, telling them about the "sex-and-drugs bacchanal" planned at the guitarist's house. Once the tabloid had passed on the news to the police, they burst onto the premises on the hunt for illegal substances. Instead, they found Jagger's girlfriend Marianne Faithfull naked under a fur rug.

Most of their stash had been hidden in time, but Jagger was arrested and eventually sentenced to three months in prison for the four amphetamine pills found in his jacket. They had actually been brought by Faithfull, but the rock star refused to let her take the blame. Richards and their art dealer Robert Fraser also received heavier charges for the drugs found on them.

They were saved by public outcry, however, and their prison sentences were dismissed. The bandmates credited the change to a long article in The Times by the usually conservative editor William Rees-Mogg, who argued that their punishment was unfair.

He was almost murdered by the Hells Angels

One of the most notorious concerts in rock history nearly led to Mick Jagger being murdered. After the Altamont Free Concert spiraled into chaos in 1969, resulting in four deaths, Jagger blamed the Hells Angels who were hired as security. As Forbes reported, one member of the biker gang was responsible for the stabbing of an 18-year old fan named Meredith Hunter, a moment that some have called the end of the Sixties.

A BBC radio documentary revealed in 2008 that some of the Hells Angels held a grudge against Jagger and, as former FBI agent Mark Young explained, they formed a violent revenge plan. "They were going to kill him in retribution for his firing their security forces," Young shared, adding that the bikers plotted to take a boat out to his Long Island house. The weather sabotaged their voyage, however, and the Hells Angels almost drowned in their attempt to murder the Rolling Stones frontman.

"As they gathered the weaponry and their forces to go out on Long Island Sound, a storm rolled up, which nearly sunk the watercraft that they were in, and they escaped with their own lives," Young revealed, clarifying that the bikers "never went back and reinstituted the plan."

He took over as leader from Brian Jones

The Rolling Stones encountered a significant tragedy in 1969 when the band's original founder Brian Jones mysteriously drowned in his own pool.

Mick Jagger had slowly taken over the role of leader from Jones over the years, as the musician's drug use and legal issues worsened. Eventually, according to Christopher Andersen's biography "Mick," Jagger was the one to fire him, reasoning that he didn't have the capacity to go on tour. Jones was paid off with £100,000 and Jagger found a younger guitarist named Mick Taylor to play with them instead.

Jones would be found dead less than a month later at his home in Sussex, per NME, and rumors about the circumstances of his death still persist today. His former bandmates paid tribute to him at their Hyde Park concert, as the Observer reported, where Jagger read a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley and butterflies were released over the crowd. In his 1985 Rolling Stone interview, Jagger denied feeling any guilt over his fellow Stone's death. "I do feel that I behaved in a very childish way but we were very young, and in some ways we picked on him," the singer admitted. "But, unfortunately, he made himself a target for it ... I wasn't understanding enough about his drug addiction. No one seemed to know much about drug addiction."

He became a tax exile in 1971

Mick Jagger said goodbye to his homeland in 1971, after the Rolling Stones decided that they were fed up with the U.K. government. According to The Guardian, The Rolling Stones recorded the album "Exile on Main St" in the south of France to protect their finances, which had already been dealt a severe blow by their messy breakup with former manager Allen Klein. As "high earners," the Labour government's new tax rates would have cost them 93% of their earnings.

In the documentary "Stones In Exile," Keith Richards described the circumstances around the album, per The Guardian. "There was a feeling you were being edged out of your own country by the British government," he recalled. "They couldn't ignore that we were a force to be reckoned with." Despite the drugs, the improvised basement studio, and a recording process that Jagger told GQ was "pretty chaotic," the double album would go on to become a classic.

Even now, decades later, Jagger's heart still doesn't belong to the U.K. exclusively. As the Evening Standard reported, the rock star owns properties in Los Angeles, France, and the Caribbean island of Mustique, as well as a $1.4 million house in Florida that he bought for his partner Melanie Hamrick in 2020.

He's had an unusual career in acting

Mick Jagger's acting career has been sporadic and surprising, beginning with his role in the cult classic "Performance." As The Guardian observed, his character, a drugged-out rock star living with two women, was not too far from reality. His next film "Ned Kelly," in which he starred as the famous Australian outlaw, was less well-received.

He was later linked to one of the most iconic characters in film history, who would actually be brought to life by Tim Curry: the mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Producer Lou Adler later told Rolling Stone that she wasn't sure if it would have actually worked. "I don't know if he ever seriously would have played it," she commented. Jagger also tried to play Mozart in the Oscar-winning film "Amadeus." In an interview with Rolling Stone, he claimed not to be bothered by these rejections. "You have to have your nose to the ground for what parts are going around the major studios, which are very few," the singer explained. "They're mostly written with some guy in mind, and you only get the part if he gets ill or something. Which may be how Sting got that part in 'Dune,' for instance."

And Jagger's unconventional film career is still going, as of this writing. As The Guardian reported, his latest role was in 2019's "The Burnt Orange Heresy."

Charlie Watts punched him in the face

Although the Rolling Stones were at their commercial peak heading into the Eighties, tension was brewing among the bandmates. In his autobiography "Life," Keith Richards told an anecdote about how drummer Charlie Watts was pushed to his breaking point by Mick Jagger. At the time, the singer was preparing to go solo, which would eventually lead to his own smash hit album and duets with David Bowie and Tina Turner. In the meantime, he had developed what Richards referred to as "LVS," or "Lead Vocalist Syndrome." This meant that, in his words, "Mick's ego was becoming too big for his own good" (via Far Out).

Watts was fed up with "the big star" and in 1984, he snapped when Jagger summoned him over the phone in an Amsterdam hotel. "Where's my drummer?" the singer reportedly asked at five in the morning, prompting Watts to storm into his room in a "Savile Row suit" and grab Jagger by his jacket. "Never call me your drummer again," Watts warned, before punching him in the face. 

"Mick fell back onto a silver platter of smoked salmon on the table and began to slide towards the open window and the canal below it," Richards noted, quipping that he only saved Jagger from falling out the window because the singer was wearing a jacket that belonged to Richards.

He's rumored to have had 4,000 lovers

Mick Jagger's status as a sex symbol was set in stone by the rumor that he has had 4,000 different sexual partners.

His biographer Christopher Andersen confirmed the number to Extra, claiming that "by one estimate, Mick Jagger has slept with 4,000 women." He also claimed that the Rolling Stone didn't exclusively sleep with women, arguing, "Mick himself said at one point, 'Everyone is basically bisexual.'" Jagger's famous hookups have allegedly included celebrities like Madonna, Carla Bruni, Angelina Jolie, and Farrah Fawcett, per Far Out.

His conquests even reportedly extended to a girlfriend of Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg, who co-starred with Jagger in the film "Performance." In his autobiography "Life," Richards wrote about the alleged affair. "I didn't find out for ages about Mick and Anita, but I smelled it," Richards explained."Mostly from Mick, who didn't give any sign of it, which is why I smelled it." Pallenberg denied the affair in a 2008 interview with The Guardian, however.

He claims that his second marriage wasn't legal

Despite Mick Jagger's many romantic trysts, he has only technically been married once. His wedding to Bianca Jagger took place in St. Tropez in 1971, per Rolling Stone.

Although the world knew about his marriage to model Jerry Hall, the legality of their union came into question when Jerry Hall tried to divorce him in 1999. As The Guardian reported at the time, the singer's lawyers released a statement explaining that they would be contesting the divorce "on the grounds that Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall are not, and never have been, married."

The couple lasted over two decades in total, resulting in four children. Their 1990 wedding had taken place in Bali, overseen by a Hindu priest who, according to Jagger's legal team, did not have access to any official documents. The British consul reportedly did not issue a letter authorizing the match either. Jagger also claimed that there had only been one witness. So, Hall's claim that he had been "committing adultery with an unnamed woman" wasn't entirely true: even though Jagger had cheated on her, it wasn't technically adultery since they had never really been married.

He had a child at age 73

Mick Jagger's personal life hasn't slowed down in his old age, as the singer has created a very complicated family tree. According to CNN, Jagger has fathered eight kids by five different women in total. The rocker also has five grandchildren and even became a great-grandfather in 2014, after his granddaughter Assisi Jackson gave birth to baby Ezra. He then shocked the world with the birth of his youngest son in 2016, who was named Deveraux Octavian Basil Jagger, according to The Guardian.

Deveraux's mother is the ballerina Melanie Hamrick, who is 44 years younger than her longtime partner Mick. His middle name Octavian refers to his status as the "eighth" child and he was also given the name Basil as a tribute to Mick's father. The newest addition to the Jagger clan attracted attention from the press since it meant that the Rolling Stone's great-grandson is now older than his great-uncle.

His bandmate Keith Richards even told WSJ Magazine that it was "time for the snip," jokingly implying that Mick should have a vasectomy. "Mick's a randy old bastard," Richards commented. "You can't be a father at that age. Those poor kids!" He later apologized for the comments to Page Six.

He's still touring

Mick Jagger's career longevity is an incredible feat. Not only has the rocker continued to have children well into his seventies, but his band has also kept touring around the world. Their "No Filter" tour attracted crowds of fans before Jagger had to withdraw due to his heart valve surgery, per CBS. It was supposed to resume as recently as 2020, according to Billboard, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the ongoing popularity of albums like "Goats Head Soup" led to a reissue going to number one on the official U.K. charts in 2020, making the Rolling Stones "the first band in Official Chart history to score a Number 1 album across six different decades."

They also broke records with their massively popular concerts in 2007, as Reuters reported, when Guinness World Records declared that their "A Bigger Bang Tour" was the most successful tour in the world. The Rolling Stones reportedly made $437 million dollars from that set of shows, adding to their impressive overall assets. Mick Jagger alone has a net worth of $500 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, thanks to the Rolling Stones' record-breaking tours.

So, it looks like Sir Mick's world domination isn't slowing down anytime soon — not if his fans have anything to say about it, at least.