Talk about satisfaction! Is there a 79-year-old on earth who’s thriving like Sir Michael Philip Jagger? He’s renting London’s four-acre Chelsea Physic Garden to celebrate his 80th birthday (July 26) along with 300 of his famous bandmates and friends. He’s got a girlfriend of nine years who shares his passion for dance, former American Ballet Theatre ballerina Melanie Hamrick, mother of his youngest child. He's got eight children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He’s working on the first Rolling Stones album of original songs since 2005, a tribute to his late bandmate Charlie Watts featuring surviving Stones and Beatles. And thanks to diet and exercise, he hasn’t lost his girlish figure.
There couldn't be a better time to celebrate the life of a guy who once said he never wanted to be singing “Satisfaction” at 45, and then discovered it can be fun at any age. Let’s all toast the pouty-lipped birthday boy by remembering the many phases of his life as an artist and icon.
Honorable schoolboy Mike
At age 7 or so, Mike Jagger — as friends still call him to this day — met classmate Keith Richards, who wanted to grow up to play guitar like Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys. By 12, Mike learned three guitar chords. But he pretended to like respectable jazz. “People who wore glasses played it, so we all had to make out that we dug Dave Brubeck,” Jagger recalled. “It was cool to like that, and it wasn’t cool to like rock ’n’ roll.” His teacher said, “Jagger is a lad of good general character although he has been rather slow to mature.”
Teen economics major and bluesman Mick
Mike became Mick, a blues-obsessed London School of Economics student wearing beige cardigans and a striped yellow LSE scarf. At a train station in 1961, he ran into childhood pal Richards, who was amazed that Mick was carrying blues records that were hard to find in England. “I thought I was the only fan for miles. …You get in a carriage with a guy that’s got Rockin’ at the Hops by Chuck Berry on Chess Records and The Best of Muddy Waters also under his arm, you are gonna hit it off.” If one of them had arrived a few minutes later, there’d be no Stones.
Girl Magnet Mick
Mick and Keith’s band Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys performed their first gig in 1961 at London’s Marquee Club, whose blues purists reacted with frosty silence. “I wouldn’t ever get in tune,” recalled Jagger, “and I was often very drunk because I was nervous.” But the club owner noted his effect on girls and offered him more gigs.
Rollin’ Stone Mick
On July 12, 1962 the Rollin’ Stones (named for a Muddy Waters tune) played their first concert. “I hope they don’t think we’re a rock’ n’ roll outfit,” said Jagger, who wore a striped shirt then associated with sailors, girls and gay chorus boys in stage musicals. It was almost equivalent to wearing a dress in 1969. Decca records rejected them, saying, “A great band, but you’ll never get anywhere with that singer.” (Later, a shamefaced Decca executive who’d rejected the Beatles eagerly signed the Stones.)