Just as the Rolling Stones get set to celebrate their 50 years of rock with a lavish coffee-table book, along comes a biography that passes over any musical revelations to gossip about Mick Jagger.
The breathless “Mick” by Christopher Andersen is a tale of scandal, money, drugs and more than 4,000 sexual conquests, including Angelina Jolie, Carla Bruni, Jerry Hall’s nanny and Natasha Terry, who calls Jagger a “sex vampire.”
Brian Jones, David Bowie and Rudolf Nureyev were also bedded by the singer, Andersen says, with witnesses purporting to back up these claims. Angie Bowie is quoted saying she found her husband with Jagger in a state of post-coital exhaustion. She brought them breakfast in bed: how very English.
The Rolling Stone, blinking awake, said nothing, she reported. Similarly, we get none of Jagger’s thoughts on this book’s racy gossip. He did comment on a previous Andersen bio by simply saying, “My reputation has remained unsullied.”
Given his carefully cultivated bad-boy image, this might even be a compliment from the least respectable of rock knights.
“Obviously,” Sir Mick is quoted as saying, “I’m no paragon of virtue.”
The official “Rolling Stones 50” is full of photos that chart the transformation of Jagger and Keith Richards’s innocently fresh faces into craggy caricatures -- both turn 70 next year.
Charlie Watts keeps his metronomic drumming, banker suits and trademark scowl throughout. He dryly notes in one picture caption that the band had an uphill battle to break America, “but the audience grew every time we went back.”
The Stones’ anniversary party in October will come with a raft of books including one by Philip Norman, author of an acclaimed biography of John Lennon, which may give a better idea of what drives Jagger and why he still can’t get satisfaction.
Gregg Allman’s “My Cross to Bear” is another memoir that speaks of rock excess in all areas, 11 spells in rehab and six wives including the tabloid-baiting marriage to Cher. Allman says she was a good lover and a bad singer. There are painful pages as the couple argues over his addictions.
The book opens with the murder of his father, but never far away is Gregg’s love for his late brother, Duane -- and temptation in the form of groupies, drugs and drink: “The first time we walked onto the plane, ’Welcome Allman Bros’ was spelled out in cocaine on the bar.”
Allman, looking weak after a liver transplant and hepatitis C treatment, is still touring. The band sounds great, though one can sadly wonder how much better it would be with slide-guitar genius Duane.
“I have this dream,” Amy Winehouse wrote when she was 12, “to be very famous. To work on stage.” This was her application for Sylvia Young Theatre School. “I want people to hear my voice and just forget their troubles for five minutes.”
The letter is quoted in “Amy, My Daughter,” as Mitch Winehouse recalls with sadness and confusion the Grammy-winning star’s own troubles. The doting dad watches as his golden girl tops the charts, marries, spirals into addiction and asks him for a hug shortly before her death in July last year.
“Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger” is published by Gallery Books (364 pages, $27) and Robson (20 pounds).
“The Rolling Stones 50” is published by Thames & Hudson in the U.K. (352 pages, 29.95 pounds) and will be published by Hyperion in the U.S. on Oct. 16 ($60).
“My Cross to Bear,” by Gregg Allman with Alan Light, is published by Morrow (390 pages, 27.99 or 17.99 pounds.)
“Amy, My Daughter” is published by It Books (304 pages, $27.99) and HarperCollins (20 pounds).
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)