Happy Birthday Mick Jagger! 50 Years of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

Happy Birthday Mick Jagger! 50 Years of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

Mike Melli
Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger

Sir Michael ‘Mick’ Philip Jagger turns 69 today. An important year, not just because the age suits his reputation, but because this month marks 50 years of performing as The Rolling Stones! Actually, to be thorough, back in July of 1962 Jagger and counterpart Keith Richards were The Rollin’ Stones and formalized the name shortly thereafter… but I digress. After a few years of touring in the early 1960’s many people were saying The Stones had surpassed The Beatles as the most popular music group in England. To pay homage to my favorite front man of all time, here’s a look back at the last 50 years of mayhem, debauchery, and of course the music.

1960’s

Jagger and Richards were both early fans of rhythm & blues, though The Rolling Stones would come to integrate many styles of music into their unique catalog. During this period of the ‘British Invasion’ most of my favorite Stones songs were released.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – 1965

Paint It, Black – 1966

Under My Thumb – 1966
This one was never released as a single, but is one of the group’s most popular songs from the era.


Mother’s Little Helper – 1966

Jumping Jack Flash – 1968

Monkey Man – 1969
It’s rumored that this song is about a bad acid trip.

Sympathy For The Devil– 1969
One of my personal favorites. This clip is from the 1969 Altamont music festival which got quite out of hand. Jagger stopped the song midway through in hopes of stopping a fight that had broken out. Some blame the notorious Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang (who were “hired” as security) for the 3 accidental deaths and the stabbing that occurred right in front of the stage during their performance of Under My Thumb.

Gimme Shelter – 1969
My favorite Stones song. With the backdrop of global violence and the Vietnam War this song exemplified Jagger’s status as a counterculture icon. Little known fact – The female soloist, Merry Shelton, put so much energy into her vocal performance during recording, that it is suspected her exertion that day led to a miscarriage of her pregnancy. You can hear her voice crack at the uppermost vocal range at minute 2:59 in the song, and Mick loved it so much you can hear him say ‘Whoo’ right afterwards.

1970’s

This decade saw the Stones surge even higher on the global stage, and the music varied quite a bit. You can hear the country influences in some of the most popular songs from this era.

Brown Sugar – 1971

Wild Horses – 1971
I love this clip of the band listening to the final recording of the song.

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – 1971
Make sure you listen to the whole song… the instrumentation break is awesome. Especially love this song’s use in one of my favorite mobster flicks, Casino. The song comes on when Joe Pesci‘s character is talking about his new crime gang in Las Vegas.


Tumbling Dice – 1972

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) – 1973
Another one of my favorites… love the main guitar riff.

Angie – 1973
There’s been a lot of speculation about who (or what) this song is about. Richards wrote most of the music and lyrics, and in his biography he mentions that ‘Angie’ is slang for heroin and the song is about his struggle to quit.


Miss You – 1978
Bring on the disco!

1980’s & 90’s

I grouped these decades together because it was kind of a dry period for The Stones (and because I just realized this blog has taken 4+ hours because I keep getting distracted by listening to Stones songs). Jagger and Richards hit a breaking point in their tumultuous relationship and the band did not tour for more than 7 years. Jagger started a solo career during this time which was not overly successful. Luckily the pair reconciled most of their differences and got back to business.

Start Me Up – 1981

Dancing In The Street – 1985
This was one of Jagger’s more successful singles outside of The Rolling Stones. Jagger and David Bowie became close in the 70’s, and some would say their chemistry in this video highlights the full extent of their relationship. In fact, many would later reflect that Jagger challenged previous definitions of gender masculinity, and his counterculture image underscored the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s.

Harlem Shuffle – 1986

Mixed Emotions – 1989
From their comeback album Steel Wheels.

Rock and a Hard Place – 1989
Second single from Steel Wheels, and the last Stones song to break the Billboard Top 40 charts.

Don’t Tear Me Up – 1993
Best selling track from Jagger’s 3rd solo album Wandering Spirit, which was met with mostly good reviews.

2000’s & Beyond

To the delight of all Mick Jagger fans, The Rolling Stones embarked on a massive tour through 2005-2007 called A Bigger Bang. The tour spanned 30 countries with over 100 performances, including shows at Fenway Park & TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, both of which I attended. I can say first hand that at that time, after more than 40 years of touring, Mick had not lost his swagger, and I’ll never forget those shows.

Show at Fenway – Boston 2005
The first U.S. stop on the tour… I was sitting in the 3rd baseline in the upper deck. Highlight of the show was when the massive stage moved on a mechanism from the back of the field all the way to the center. I remember that the grass and turf was so mangled from the show that the first Red Sox game after the concert was delayed as workers frantically tried to get the field ready for play.

Show at TD Banknorth Garden – Boston 2006