Now, let’s see: Mick Jagger hated the smell of Jerry Hall’s breast milk. He’s a lousy tipper. He slept with Linda Ronstadt and had a fling with Margaret Trudeau and, very likely, Princess Margaret. He slept with lots of men—not just David Bowie, as Bowie’s ex-wife, Angela, revealed three years ago, but also (among the famous ones) the Stones’ first rhythm guitarist, Brian Jones; the group’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham; and probably Andy Warhol. Jagger and Bowie enjoyed a impromptu threesome with Bette Midler in a closet during a party. And, yes, he and Rudolf Nureyev even made a tongue-in-cheek pass at Geraldo Rivera!
That’s what you’ll find in Christopher Andersen’s Jagger Unauthorized, along with a tidbit Andersen apparently didn’t uncover in time to include in his earlier tabloid tell-all, Madonna Unauthorized: Madonna herself was a Jagger groupie before she was famous, and reportedly slept with him at New York City’s Plaza Hotel.
Andersen makes it all easy to swallow. His sources are insiders, and when accounts differ, he dutifully notes opposing views. What emerges is a picture of a wild and insecure superstar, someone who carried a gun after John Lennon was shot, got madly jealous of Michael Jackson’s success, and, in one of the book’s most vivid vignettes, broke down and cried when Bianca-screaming because he wouldn’t let her tour with the Stones-made him unpack all 20 of his suitcases to find her white scarf, which she’d lent him to wear on stage and now demanded back.
Whew. So what’s hardest to believe is that Andersen tries to make all this even more sensational than it already is. Bianca ”flew into a Latin rage,” he writes, never explaining why her outbursts were any more ethnic than Jagger’s many tantrums. Andersen gets so carried away that—over and over—he stops thinking coherently. ”Satisfaction” provoked widespread outrage, he reports, ”just as Jagger had intended”—forgetting that three paragraphs earlier he had told us Jagger didn’t even want the song released.
And since Andersen seems driven to include every trace of scandal, it’s amazing that he leaves out two prime pieces of widely reported dirt. Would it really diminish his portrait to acknowledge that the Stones’ bassist, Bill Wyman, got more girls than Jagger, even in the group’s glory days? Or that Jagger had a backup singer hidden on the Stones’ 1989-90 tour to reinforce his weakened-by-age vocals?
But then, music is definitely not Andersen’s strength, and that-though to blame him for it is a little like blaming a fly for not having a Ph.D.—is the biggest problem with his book. As his account races toward its close, he mentions ”High Wire,” a strange single the Stones released at the height of the Gulf War in which they attacked the U.S. government for its earlier aid to Saddam Hussein. Why did they do that? Were they, just possibly, trying to make a genuine political point? Andersen doesn’t even stop to ask.
He recounts feud after feud between Jagger and Keith Richards, each followed by a reconciliation. Meanwhile, the two were writing some of the greatest songs in rock history. How did that side of their bond function? Don’t ask Andersen. An A-grade biography would tell us things we didn’t know about Jagger the artist-but about that, despite A+ gossip, Andersen’s empty chronicle doesn’t have a clue.