Book Review: Mick Jagger by Philip Norman ✭✭✭✭

Mick Jagger 

Review by Emma Curry

It’s been three days since The Rolling Stones smashed the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury with the headlining gig to end all headlining gigs, including fire-breathing phoenixes, no less. If you’re suffering from Stones withdrawal, and you’ve played the finer points of Their Satanic Majesties Request to death on your iPod, now might be the time to turn to Philip Norman’s biography of the band’s frontman, star of that Maroon 5 song, and all-round cultural legend, Mick Jagger.

Norman is an incredibly experienced and talented biographer, who’s previously written on musical subjects from The Beatles to The Stones via Buddy Holly and Elton John, meaning that this is a slick and professional job, meticulously researched and referenced. Whilst he makes it clear in the introduction that it’s not authorised in any way by Jagger himself, he’s done some truly impressive research, at one point even speaking to the actual police officers who performed the infamous Redlands drugs bust of 1967.

Whilst it’s a hefty 600-page tome, I found the book a fascinating and immensely readable account of Jagger’s life from childhood up to the present day. Norman weaves in the more familiar highlights of the Stones’ career with astonishing have-to-be-read-to-be-believed moments to spice things up, meaning the style is accessible for all, from the most diehard Stones fan to the more casual listener.

Highlights for me were the discussions of Jagger’s relationships with the various women in his life, from Marianne Faithfull to Bianca to Marsha Hunt (subject of ‘Brown Sugar’), although Jagger himself obviously doesn’t come out of any of these encounters particularly well! Norman doesn’t shy away from depicting the shortcomings in his subject’s character, and particularly on the topic of money, which comes across as something of an obsession for the man himself. Indeed, the very reason that this biography is not authorised is because ‘Jagger only talks to writers when he has something to sell’, a side of the rocker that I was much less familiar with.

All in all, whether you’re a Jagger devotee looking to fine-tune your knowledge of the man himself, or have got a taste for the superhero origins story from the Marvel summer blockbusters of recent years – this is your summer reading sorted. It’s interesting, accessible, and, at times, truly surprising: a must-read for all wannabe rock gods of the future.

Four stars ✭✭✭✭