“I’m going to try and keep it light,” says Mick Jagger with a rubbery grin at the beginning of “My Life As a Rolling Stone.”
How to encapsulate one of the music’s behemoths while remaining lighthearted is of course challenging given the band’s hefty history. But the four-part docuseries debuting Sunday on Epix (9 p.m. EDT/PDT) offers a comprehensive look at how the Rolling Stones became the ROLLING STONES with vintage performance footage and interview clips, plus new commentary from Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.
The series is split into four episodes, with the weather-beaten but feisty Jagger, 79, as the obvious launch (Richards, Woods and the late Charlie Watts follow over the next three weeks). The Jagger episode airs free for 90 days on Epix.com and the app, as well as Apple TV, Amazon, Roku, and most cable channels.
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While there are plenty of Stones details to digest, at its core the episode highlights the band’s inimitable frontman and CEO, of whom Richards says, “He’s truly an honorable man among all that crap.”
Here are some insights.
Tina Turner didn’t think Mick Jagger ‘would mean anything’
Soul legend Tina Turner recalls Jagger attending her concerts in London, where he watched from behind the speakers as she and Ike Turner performed. PP Arnold, one of the vaunted Ikettes, says the “sexy” and “cool” Jagger would also come backstage to learn dance moves from the Turners’ backup performers.
But Turner was unimpressed by Jagger’s early display of showmanship.
“He was fine, but I didn’t think he would mean anything,” she says with a hoarse laugh. “Sorry, Mick!”
Later in the documentary, Turner updates her mind after seeing Jagger perform again with years of herbs.
“Mick was not the same person I met in London when he hid behind the speakers. He had come out of his shell,” she says. “Mick became Mick Jagger.”
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The Rolling Stones’ drug bust in Redlands turned into a career boost
In 1967, the band withdrew to Redlands, Richards’ estate in Sussex, England, for a ‘delightful feast’. But it soon became scandalous: a high-profile drug bust.
“There were LOTS of drugs there. LSD, hash and the fuzz came in,” Jagger recalls. “Getting caught on acid is really weird.”
The incident made Richards wary of authority. “I still have a chip with me,” Richards says with a cackling cluck. “I could use a joint now!”
But rather than dwell on Jagger and Richards’ arrests (after much legal drama, Richards’ sentence was overturned and Jagger’s was reduced to a parole), the screenplay added to the Rolling Stones mystique. as the rebellious defense of their groomed rivals, The Beatles.
“They have been cleaned up by their manager,” Richards says of the British quartet. “Otherwise they would be just like us – filthy swine!”
Mick Jagger calculated his moves to look good on TV
When the Rolling Stones were invited to play on the TV music show ‘Ready Steady Go!’ from the 1960s, Jagger seized the opportunity as a way to “edit the medium” and shine in people’s homes.
“I could see how important this was,” he says. “You have to think about how you’re going to make an impression.”
Using footage of the young Stones performing “Little Red Rooster,” Jagger recounts how he made the band look like perfect rock ‘n’ rollers: He would visit the show’s set to study the camera angles, then going home and practicing his arachnid moves to translate best on TV – a calculated exercise made to look effortless.
The Rolling Stones logo has nothing to do with Jagger’s lips
While creating the “Sticky Fingers” album cover, Marshall Chess, founder of Rolling Stones Records, decided it was time for the Stones to become a brand.
Art designer John Pasche was recommended by the Royal College of Art in London to create a poster for the Rolling Stones’ European tour in 1970. In the process, he created the iconic tongue and lips logo, which he believes had nothing to do with with the prominent pillow-like features of the band’s frontman.
“People believe that the lips are based on Mick. That’s not true. I saw it as a symbol of protest, like a child sticking out its tongue,” says Pasche.
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Keith Richards addresses the elephant in the room – literally
The Stones are credited with inventing the stadium rock spectacle that began in the 1970s, and Jagger was integral to shaping the band’s stage designs because he wanted “a playroom for myself.”
But even one of rock’s most powerful power players had to be told “no” at times, and it was left to Richards to dissuade Jagger from one of his loftiest ideas: having an elephant come up on stage at the end. from the show to him a rose from his trunk.
“The sigh of relief,” Richards recalls with a chuckle, “almost blew into the building.”