British rock singer and songwriter. As leader of the Rolling Stones he is one of the most enduring celebrities of the 1960s.
While still a student at the London School of Economics in 1960 he became an enthusiastic devotee of black American rhythm and blues. The Rolling Stones released their first record in 1963 but they did not have an American number one hit until they began writing their own material (‘Satisfaction’) in 1965. Billed as a mad and bad alternative to the Beatles, the Stones had an image centred on Jagger's blatant sexuality. Arrested on a drugs charge, Jagger was the subject of an editorial in the London Times in 1967, which spoke of ‘breaking a butterfly on a wheel’, and he was given a suspended jail sentence. The album Beggar's Banquet (1968) contained ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, a sarcastic commentary on human behaviour, taken by some as an endorsement of evil, which did little harm to their image. More serious was a murder that took place as the band played at a pop festival in California in 1969; this was recorded in the film Gimme Shelter. Jagger also acted in two films, Performance and Ned Kelly (both 1970). Although the Stones' recordings of the last twenty-five years have been generally disappointing, Jagger's energy as a performer, even now that he is in his mid-fifties, and the band's legendary status, ensure that their tours are still enormously successful.
His private life has always been a favourite subject of the tabloid press. In the 1960s his girlfriend Chrissy Shrimpton (model and sister of Jean Shrimpton) was replaced by pop star Marianne Faithfull (whose hit song ‘As Tears Go By’ Jagger co-wrote); in the 1970s he and his wife, Nicaraguan model Bianca Perez Morena de Macias, were jet-set celebrities. After their divorce, he married Texas-born model Jerry Hall.