Legendary frontman of the Stones, Sir Mick Jagger today celebrates his 68th birthday. No mean feat considering the industry he’s from and that he has managed to survive for the last 50 or so years, whilst many of his contemporaries fell at the first post, tripped up by car crashes, booze, drugs, and related mishaps.
In the light of recent events – you know, the death of you know who – and the focus this has put on the 27 club (a ‘club’ of notable musicians whose short lives petered out during their 27th year), it makes you realise that the most ‘uncool’ thing a musician can do is stay alive and be healthy. Amy Winehouse, despite her habitual drug use and blatant alcoholism, has achieved instant sainthood and automatic legendary status by dying. The same goes for Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and John Lennon to name but a few. Already people are calling Amy Winehouse a ‘genius’. A great songwriter with a stunning voice – yes. But a genius?
Brian Jones – ex Stones guitarist and also a member of the 27 Club is revered more so it seems than the almighty Mick Jagger, who has not only managed to stay alive but is also still touring and still doing a damn good job of it. (At the age of 68 he has more energy and vitality than some spirulina and spinach smoothie guzzling yoga nuts).
But proper rock stars aren’t supposed to keep going. They are supposed to die young, a la Winehouse, leaving a clutch of songs penned under the influence of kitchen fluid as a legacy before hanging themselves using a pair of their own socks. They are not supposed to live healthily, do yoga, avoid red meat, meditate, drink moderately (if at all) and still be rocking two years short of becoming a septuagenarian. That kind of disgusting behaviour is set aside for pop stars. Roger Daltrey and Neil Young said respectively in their youth, “I hope I die before I get old,” and “I’d rather burn out than fade away.”
Neither managed that. How uncool of them!
[adsense]John Lennon is another example: hero worshipped (and I’m not disputing that), whereas Sir Paul McCartney is oft portrayed as slightly laughable and a little bit embarrassing, because he’s a clean-living vegetarian who forgot to kill himself. What kind of example is that to set young kids?
Mick Jagger is not letting something as trifling as a 68th birthday put him off his stride. He is still recording and even has a new album out with his new group Superheavy next year.
Mick Jagger is a cultural icon and a symbol of an era when Britain’s music industry was second to none. Legends don’t have to hand the title back when they hit a certain age and have failed to burn out.
It’s about time we started seeing living rock stars as legends and not letting the death of someone immediately escalate them to the status of saint. If someone wasn’t a genius when they alive, then they shouldn’t automatically become so posthumously.
Happy 68th birthday Mr Jagger. Rock on.
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Images: plaztikmag.com, singmyheart.blogspot.com, jeremylott.net, miguelsanda.blogspot.com.