Sir Mick Jagger on lockdown and working with Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl

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·6 min read
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Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger on stage with The Rolling Stones in 2018

Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger has revealed the real story behind his long-lost rock 'n' roll memoirs.

The singer previously refused to allow his autobiography to be published, at one point claiming he couldn't remember writing it in the 1980s.

But speaking to BBC 6 Music's Matt Everitt, he explained: "I really didn't enjoy it... reliving my life, to the detriment of living in the now."

Sir Mick said he gave up as reminiscing "takes a lot out of you".

"It takes a lot of reliving emotions, reliving friendships, reliving ups and downs," he added.

Describing the process as "dull and upsetting", Jagger said he gave the money back to the publisher.

In a 2017 article for The Spectator, publisher John Blake, who claimed to have a copy of the manuscript, wrote that the "little masterpiece" spanned 75,000 words, even in its incomplete form.

And despite promising to "do it another day", Jagger says that he has not been tempted back to writing, even during the pandemic.

Instead, he's coped with lockdown by staying "pretty creative" and, perhaps unsurprisingly, focusing on music.

"I've written a lot of songs and finished records," he told Everitt.

"Obviously, it's not as good as being together in the same room with a group of musicians. I mean, there's really no substitute for that. But one of the things that kept me going through the lockdown [has been] being able to play music and set up little studios, wherever.

"I was very lucky that I had a couple of places and... a nice garden," said the veteran '60s rocker.

The Rolling Stones in 1964
The Rolling Stones - Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts - in 1964 (from left to right)

As a self-professed "townie", Jagger said he has "never spent so much time in the country" as he has since Covid struck. After 50 years of the touring lifestyle, he admitted that the enforced break has been "really difficult" at times.

Looking beyond the challenge of getting on with people and "perhaps spending longer with them than you normally would", he counts himself as incredibly fortunate.

"You have to be patient, learn self-reliance... but all these things, as I say for me... I'm very lucky. I don't have the problems of living, say in a small flat in London or New York, which some of my friends have had," he told the radio host.

"Two kids in a two room flat in Manhattan? I honestly don't know how I would have done that. Maybe a couple of weeks. But for that long, I don't know how I would have done it. And I admire them for being able to do it."

Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl
Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl partnered on surprise lockdown single Eazy Sleazy

He's also keenly aware of the impact on mental health throughout society.

"I can feel that people could get really quite depressed about the whole thing because there was a point where there was no light at the end of the tunnel. It was sometimes a little bit down for a lot of people, but I was lucky enough to avoid most of that".

Lockdown single to help find light

Jagger, now 77 and a father of eight, said he believed his adaptability has helped him "roll with the punches" through the uncertainty. And that optimism has extended to his music, including a surprise - remote - lockdown collaboration with Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl.

Their track, Eazy Sleazy, attempts to provide a "sardonic and humorous" take on coming out of lockdown, at least in the UK, as Jagger reflects on a year of "crazy" Covid lifestyle changes, big and small - including the fight against misinformation.

"Shooting the vaccine/Bill Gates is in my bloodstream/It's mind control," he sings on a verse which he openly admits is about poking fun at conspiracy theorists.

Elsewhere he reflects on a world of "zoom calls", "home in these prison walls", fake applause and too much TV. With optimism and change in sight he looks forward to normality and the "garden of earthly delights".

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The song was produced by Jagger's long-time musical collaborator Matt Clifford, who also moulded Jagger's two solo 2017 efforts, Gotta Get a Grip and England Lost.

Musically, it sees Jagger share guitar duties with Grohl, who also plays the bass and the drums - reprising his role with Nirvana.

Jagger told Everitt the pair have crossed paths quite a few times and "kept in touch" after meeting during Saturday Night Live shows, performing Stones shows together and impromptu jams.

"I like his style, he's a great musician", said Jagger, "rocky... with lots of energy".

This kinship meant that creating the single, even oceans apart, was a "fun... really easy" process, partly thanks to Grohl's home studio in Los Angeles.

Grohl's commitment was immediate as soon as he heard the song. "He said 'going in tomorrow. Love it,'" remembered Jagger. "So he just did that straightaway."

Despite not being in the same room together, Jagger added Grohl's "definite personality comes through" in his drumming style, much like the Stones' stoic, assured Charlie Watts.

Touring plans

On the topic of his original band, Jagger says he is looking forward to reuniting with his old bandmates, and particularly returning to the stage, even if "it's a big guess" when that might happen.

Still, he says the Stones will "definitely" continue and remain committed to completing their American tour that was postponed by Covid. "Hopefully things will somewhere near normal by the end of the summer, let's hope, anyway," Jagger said.

His checklist until then? Typically tireless.

The Rolling Stones, 2017
The Rolling Stones together on their 2017 No Filter tour

"Improve guitar playing. Practice mouth organ. Do more dancing. Get ready for tour," he said, only partially tongue-in-cheek.

"You know, I gotta get in shape because the tour could be sooner than I think. So I've got to be ready for that. And keep the songs coming."

In other words, he just keeps on rolling.

Hear Matt Everitt's full BBC 6 Music interview with Sir Mick Jagger by listening back on BBC Sounds.

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