We heard everything Keith Richards had to say in his 2010 memoir, Life. But, we’ve just learned, Mick Jagger could have gotten the first word on life in the Rolling Stones if only he’d have sensationalized his story a bit. Publisher/author John Blake writes in an essay in The Spectator that he’s got the 75,000-word “pristine typescript” cooked up by Jagger under lock and key after getting his hands on the long-rumored autobiography three years ago.
Jagger has been asked over and over if and when he’ll release a memoir and he’s always answered the same way: never. “Except what virtually nobody knows is that he already has,” writes Blake, who published a Stones book called Up and Down with the Rolling Stones: My Rollercoaster Ride with Keith Richards in 2011. “It is an extraordinary insight into one of the three most influential rock stars of all time,” he says, explaining that Jagger was finally convinced to give it a whirl around 1974, after tiring of all the unauthorized books about his band.
“The popular, often-repeated version of events is that Mick approached Bill Wyman, the Rolling Stones’ self-appointed archivist, to help him with research,” says Blake. “Wyman, legend has it, told Mick to go forth and multiply. He was going to write his own book. Then, so the story goes, Mick floundered. All the years of drugs and debauchery had addled his brain so badly that he could not remember anything.”
Jagger then reluctantly returned his one-million pound advance and walked away, claims Blake, who traveled extensively with the Stones as a rock journalist. “I thought that was the end of the story until three years ago, when a mutual friend handed me a pristine typescript Mick had written,” he writes. “I was dumbfounded. This was the rock ’n’ roll equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So far as I have been able to ascertain, a publisher rejected the manuscript because it was light on sex and drugs. In the early 1980s, when it was written, shock and awe was a vital part of any successful autobiography. Read now, however, it is a little masterpiece. A perfectly preserved time capsule written when the Stones had produced all their greatest music, but still burned with the passion and fire of youth and idealism.”
Blake reveals that the book shows a “quieter, more watchful Mick,” who divulges that the elaborate feasts the band allegedly demanded backstage largely went untouched, and that he bought the historic Stargroves mansion while high on acid, then nearly died while riding a horse on the grounds of his new purchase. “It is delicious, heady stuff. Like reading Elvis Presley’s diaries from the days before he grew fat and washed-up in Vegas,” he says. Once it was in his hands, Blake says that he was determined to get it published and that Jagger’s manager seemed game, though her client couldn’t even remember writing it.
He got as far as Jagger committing to penning a foreword to the book to establish that he wrote it “long ago and far away,” but then life intruded and “the steel gates clanged shut. Mick wanted nothing further to do with this project. He never wanted to see it published.”
According to The Guardian, Stones’ manager Joyce Smyth said in a statement that: “John Blake writes to me from time to time seeking permission to publish this manuscript. The answer is always the same: He cannot, because it isn’t his and he accepts this. Readers will be able to form a view as regards the matters to which John Blake refers when Sir Mick’s autobiography appears, should he choose to write it.” A spokesperson for Jagger had no comment at press time.
Read Blake’s full essay here.