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Remembering the Many Moods of Mick Jagger on His 80th Birthday

Here are some of our favorite phases of rock’s age-defying chameleon

spinner image mick jagger collage including with the rolling stones singing with tina turner at live aid onstage shirtless in the nineteen eighties and dueting with taylor swift
(Clockwise from top left) Mick Jagger and Tina Turner perform at Live Aid in 1985; Jagger relaxing at a chateau in Vienna, Austria, in 1973; Taylor Swift and Jagger onstage together in 2015; Jagger with the Rolling Stones in concert in 1981; Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger at the 56th BFI London Film Festival in 2012.
With Tina Turner: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect; with hat: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images; with Taylor Swift: John Shearer/LP5/Getty Images for TAS; shirtless photo: Rocky Widner/FilmMagic; The Rolling Stones: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

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.

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spinner image photo of mick jagger and his brother chris as young children at the beach in the fifties
Mick Jagger (left), age 8, on a family holiday with his younger brother Chris in 1951.
Stones Archive/Getty Images

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.”

spinner image rolling stones members keith richards and mick jagger opening fan mail in nineteen sixty three
Mick Jagger (right) and guitarist Keith Richards opening fan mail during the early days of the band, circa 1963.
Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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.

spinner image the rolling stones performing on a t v show in the mid nineteen sixties
The Rolling Stones, featuring Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, performing on a mid-1960's TV show.
Screen Archives/Getty Images

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.)

Pop songwriter Mick

Their manager locked Mick and Keith in a kitchen, ordering them to write their first song — a pop song, not blues. The lachrymose female’s lament “As Tears Go By” became a huge hit for Mick’s girl, Marianne Faithfull. Mick made his first real money from music — but his own band kept concentrating on covers of other people’s songs.

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Stones songwriter Mick

Loosely adapting a chorus from the Staple Singers’ “This May Be the Last Time,” Mick and Keith pen the first true Stones original tune, “The Last Time,” about a guy cruelly dumping a girl who “don’t try very hard to please me.” They developed a musical language in which Keith’s now-staccato, now-legato guitar style matches with the brawling energy of the lyrics Mick largely created, often with Keith’s own quirky, cynical and oftentimes near-misogynistic takes.

spinner image keith richards and mick jagger in nineteen sixty five seen leaving a courtroom
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger leave West Ham magistrates court where they appeared on drug charges on July 23, 1965.
Len Trievnor/Express/Getty Images

Druggie Mick

Though less reckless than many rock stars in the ’60s, Mick was repeatedly busted for drugs and once woke up from an LSD trip to discover he’d bought a mansion. Drugs likely played a role in the death of the Stones’ cofounder Brian Jones, and very nearly killed Faithfull. "Things like LSD were all new,” he recalled in 1995. “No one knew the harm. People thought cocaine was good for you.”

Devilish Mick

Though he crafted a Lucifer-themed stage persona in 1967, recording the flopped Sgt. Pepper-imitating psychedelic album His Satanic Majesty’s Request and writing “Sympathy for the Devil,” inspired by Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita (given to him by his high-IQ girlfriend Faithfull), he left deviltry mostly behind after the Hell’s Angels murdered a spectator at the Stones’ 1969 Altamont concert. Anyway, said Faithfull, Mick was never really a devotee of Satan — “a devotee of satin, perhaps.”

spinner image anita pallenberg and mick jagger in a film still from the movie called performance
Anita Pallenberg and Mick Jagger playing Pherber and Turner in a surreal sequence from the film, "Performance."
Andrew Maclear/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Matinee idol Mick

His performance as a Mick-like rock star in Nicolas Roeg’s 1970 Performance is a classic, and he’s terrific as a malevolent art collector in the 2020 film The Burnt Orange Heresy. Sadly, his planned roles in Dune, Vladimir Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark and Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo never saw the screen. “He’s a great actor,” says Herzog, who regrets that the film’s delay forced Mick to leave the set for Rolling Stones work.

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Disco Mick

With songwriting partner Keith mired in drug and legal woes, Mick had to shoulder more of the beastly songwriting burden on the 1978 album Some Girls and crafted “Miss You,” the last Rolling Stones song to hit No. 1 in America. It’s a canny example of a band trying to go disco in the waning days of rock, and proof that when Mick catches a trendy cultural wave, he often rides it with brilliant success.

Comedian Mick

He’s done excellent skits on Saturday Night Live, spoofing Angelenos in the imaginary soap opera The Californians and immortally impersonating Keith Richards in a 2012 episode he hosted. But his funniest performance may be his 1985 Dancing in the Street video with David Bowie. They sing the song well, but turn down the sound and their attempts to out-dance each other are hilarious.

spinner image mick jagger and family in two thousand three photographed after mick received knighthood
Sir Mick Jagger with his proud father, Joe, and daughters Elizabeth and Karis, as they show off the knighthood Mick received for services to popular music during a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace by the Prince of Wales on Dec. 12, 2003.
Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

Health nut Mick

At 27, Mick began heeding the advice of his gym-teacher dad, Joe Jagger, who said, "Mike has gradually learnt, as he gets older, that keeping fit becomes more important. He is very careful about what he eats and drinks now. He tends to stick to fish and Perrier water.” Said Jagger, “He brainwashed me. I'm an assiduous trainer and I’ve been training since 1970."

spinner image mick jagger performing in two photos one from nineteen sixty nine and another from two thousand twenty two
Mick Jagger onstage with the Rolling Stones in 1969 (left) and in 2022 (right).
David Fenton/Getty Images; Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Mick the boy who never grew up

Approaching his ninth decade, he’s a geologically wrinkled but still spindly and relentlessly hard-charging front man of many parts. What’s his secret? As he put it: “I consider myself very lucky, and one of the reasons for that is when I’m singing or acting or playing or anything, even at home, I feel just like a baby, like I’m 10 or 11 or 12. I can act like a 34-year-old too ... but when I’m playing, I can go back in time.” 

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