Mick Jagger by Philip Norman – We Love Books

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman was recently published by HarperCollins.

Shaun here, having stolen Jo’s book to read on the condition I review it here. I’m going to sprinkle in a few Rolling Stones song titles (see if you can spot them)…. so start me up!

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman

The author has one a good job of covering the formative Mick Jagger years, and the 60’s/70s era Stones – this period makes up most of the book. It’s interesting to learn that Mick comes from such mundane surroundings as Dartford and later went to the London School of Economics (although he didn’t graduate – he chose to see how far the Rolling Stones would take him), and how he met Keith Richards on a train platform one morning, as he happened to be carrying around some blues records and Keith spotted them. We can also see how the Rolling Stones started off with Brian Jones as the leader and driving force, then Mick taking the mantle later on as Brian succumbed to drug and health problems.

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman generally portrays Mick as a fairly ruthless unsympathetic character – he doesn’t treat the (many!) women in his life well, and also had a child with singer Marsha Hunt and strenuously denied it was his though it was eventually revealed he was wrong. I had no sympathy (for the devil) (Sorry!).

On the other hand it was clear he was the driving force behind the Rolling Stones – they wouldn’t have got as far or done as well had it not been for him. He is also given a lot of credit for staying on stage in very difficult circumstances during the Altamont concert in 1969.

It doesn’t go into any detail whatsoever about creating music or recording the albums, and just tends to say something like (to paraphrase) “and then they went in to record ‘Exile on Main Street’ in the south of France” without any depth – so look elsewhere if you’re looking for any great insights into the recording process or music writing process.

About 7/8 of the book brings the reader up to the mid-seventies, with the last eighth of the book covering then until now – it’s very abbreviated to say the least – obviously the sixties and seventies are going to be more interesting than later on, but I found it a little disappointing how quickly the last 30 years was covered. You can’t always get what you want, I guess…

Overall the book does succeed in describing the events, people and comings and goings in Sir Mick Jagger’s life – although you are left with a feeling that he is a somewhat aloof figure, not particularly interested in reliving and going through his past life. It’s a long book and took a while to read – it’s a comprehensive read and I did find it enjoyable.

Wild Horses wouldn’t have prevented me from finishing this book (sorry again!)

We received this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

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