Underscored by world tour tumult, affairs of the heart (both romantic and otherwise) and a highly-anticipated September re-release of Rolling Stones' seminal 'Goats Head Soup', the last few years have been nothing if not exceptional for frontman Mick Jagger.
In celebration of his 77th birthday, however, we're going significantly further back to provide a comprehensive retrospective of Jagger's cheeky splendor and flamboyant histrionics that have left fans around the globe looking on with childlike wonder for the better part of six decades and counting. From boyish beginnings and the apex of Edwardian bacchanalia at Hyde Park '69 to the metamorphic legend whose signature blend of madness and magic bring to life enduring favorites such as "Satisfaction", "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Beast of Burden", Mick Jagger is nothing short of a real-life Peter Pan, the entire music world his personal Neverland with photographers like Norman Seeff, Allan Tannenbaum and, of course, Henry Diltz bringing their own ageless profundity to music history's centerstage. A tribute to the forever young icon and all those young at heart, each of these photographers reflect on time-honored collaborations with Jagger.
Norman Seeff shares, "For the EXILE ON MAIN STREET session (December 1971), Mick had the idea of the Stones coming down the ramp of a ship ‘defecting’ to France. Rather than risk shooting at the docks, I decided to build a set, hired friends as extras and rented period outfits from Western Costume. The session began at midnight. An assistant, loving the limelight, impulsively turned to kiss Mick and lost her footing. They both came down. I captured a sequence of shots that we turned into postcard inserts of classic ‘Stones’ moments. Eight of the postcards, with the missing Bill Wyman’s head superimposed on my friend (the one with the beard and fur coat – the one you don’t recognize!), were inserted into the album and have since become valuable collectors items.
I also art directed the EXILE ON MAIN STREET album package. Mick was very hands-on and the final decision maker. One afternoon, we asked him to hand-write the liner notes, which we pasted on to layout. We created the album package design right there in that moment. Here’s a shot of Mick, Marshall Chess (who was then President of Rolling Stones Records) and me sitting working on ideas for the album design.
In May 1972, I was asked to shoot the Stones in a house in the Hollywood Hills and that’s where I captured some stunning shots of Mick, and Keith too."
Allan Tannenbaum adds, "I think that the most interesting encounter I had with Mick Jagger was when he visited Dolly Parton backstage at The Bottom Line in 1977. Here's the story:
Dolly Parton gave an extraordinary performance at The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village in May of 1977, full of energy and wonderful music. I was busy photographing from the audience when I noticed Mick Jagger slip by to watch the show from the corner close to the kitchen. I kept an eye on him, hoping that no other photographers saw him. After the show, as people left the venue, I saw him head to the backstage door, and I went there to try for a backstage picture. Since I was one of the regular photographers there, I was allowed in to get a quick shot. Dolly and Mick were talking, and when they saw me they stood side by side and smiled. Perhaps I said something like "How about a hug?", because Dolly gave Mick a big hug with a huge smile while Mick had a very sheepish grin on his face. I got one frame but I knew it was a good one. Later, there was a party for Dolly at Windows on the World atop the WTC, and Dolly posed with John Belushi, Andy Warhol, and others. Mick was busy talking with Eric Idle and Terry Southern, and I prayed that Dolly wouldn't pose with him again. She didn't and I kept my exclusive image."
According to MHG founding photographer Henry Diltz, "Can you imagine Rock n' Roll without a Mick Jagger in it? He's such a part of the woven fabric of our music. Our paths crossed a few time back in the 60's and 70's. While spending the Fall of 1970 in England with Stephen Stills, we flew to Amsterdam to visit The Rolling Stones stage manager, Chip Monck. We hung out back stage, in their dressing rooms and finally on stage to photograph everything that happened. What a great show. Stephen even sat in on piano for one number."
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