Curled up on the pillows of a large bed, his thick brown hair billowing from a white straw bonnet and his narrow legs jackknifed under a flamboyant bathrobe, Mick Jagger slowly unwinds from sleep, beginning his day with a breakfast of orange juice and coffee. It is 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Jagger, the most electrifying and lurid performer in rock, and his Rolling Stones are abroad in the land again. This, their eighth U.S. tour in 13 years, covers 29 Western Hemisphere cities from the Civic Center in St. Paul to the Anhembi (capacity 150,000) in Sao Paulo. Though the three-month ramble started only this week, it sold out a record $12 million in tickets (at $12.50 top, though scalpers fetch up to $100) before the regrouped Stones hit their first rehearsal riff in Long Island.
Later this year, the second leg of the tour whirls the Stones through the Middle East and Asia. Indeed, at 31, there is no more worldly (or otherworldly) figure than Jagger. His life is a game of revenue-service roulette, or rather leapfrog (to avoid taxable resident status), among New York, Paris, Cannes and a 52-acre country estate in England. That sort of quicksilver existence equally energizes Bianca, his stunning Nicaraguan wife who looks eerily like Mick’s sister (or is it he who resembles her sister?) and is one of the few other members of their generation with comparable powers of self-dramatization and self-sufficiency. When the Stones hit the road, Bianca and their 3½-year-old daughter, Jade, stay behind—if never in one place.
“It’s hard to look after people and work at the same time,” explains Mick. “The distractions are obvious. I wouldn’t go on tour if I didn’t want to. But you tend to go slightly cuckoo. And it gets worse as it goes along. It starts off very sane, then people start snapping. You always get the first flip-out, never a musician, but someone on the road crew who just can’t keep up. Then,” he adds, as his full rubbery lips and taut cheeks break into a smile, “you know you’re really in there.” There can be a sinister place. Roll Over, Beethoven, the anthem of the Stones’ rock ‘n’ roll precursors like Chuck Berry, was a gentle declaration of irreverence. Jagger, though the son of a phys-ed professor and a major himself in European history and literature at the esteemed London School of Economics, dropped out and delivered a different message: Roll Over, Beelzebub. Even before he co-wrote the quasi-revolutionary “Street Fighting Man” and such menacing works as “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Midnight Rambler,” riots were a standard sideshow at a Stones’ concert.
Guitarist Brian Jones, a psychologically vulnerable member of the group from the beginning, was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool, in mid-1969, shortly after leaving the group. Drugs and suicide were suspected. That same year, just four months after Woodstock, came the Stones’ concert at Altamont, Calif., policed by the Hell’s Angels (at a fee of $500 worth of beer). Four persons were left dead. Then in 1970 Jagger portrayed a wealthy retired bisexual rock star in the film, Performance, a role that seemed to certify the growing fusion in his life of androgynous decadence and music-world jet-set chic.
Now since his marriage in 1971, his underground critics claim Jagger has renounced his sympathy with Satan in favor of the Social Register. “They say,” Mick reports, “‘you’re married, and all that, got money, settled down and all that, betcha don’t feel rebellious anymore.’ The answer is no more and no less. I’m not writing overtly political songs. But I’m not complacent.” As for his tax-avoiding migrations (he would be in England’s 94% bracket), Jagger says, “We have a lot of poor people and a problematical country, but whether I should pay to get out of it is debatable. Through my selfishness and greed,” he adds, “I’ve elected not to by living abroad.”
Jagger’s life has indeed gotten somewhat hedonistically settled, and he has become a connoisseur of the least boring of European royalty and of the most distinguished wines. But marriage has hardly domesticated either him or Bianca, now 27, the sultry daughter of a diplomat. She went to Paris to study political science at 17, but quit after meeting actor Michael Caine—who shunted her off to London for a year and a half. After returning to Paris, she became engaged to record mogul Eddie Barclay and began circulating in that milieu where at a 1970 party she and Mick were introduced by Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun. “It was like a bolt of lightning,” Bianca told PEOPLE’S Laura Stevenson during a rare interview at the Cannes Film Festival (where Bianca was posing, partying and making her film ambitions known to the industry). “I always thought I would be a diplomat, then a movie director,” Bianca continues. “I want to act now,” she says, “because I want to do something of quality, not just be a star. But the press turned me into something I was not. They wouldn’t accept the fact that Mick had married a foreigner. So from that moment on I was a bitch.” To be sure, she performs many roles dazzlingly, including intellect and one of the world’s leading style-setters, but she could have won the best-actress prize at Cannes for bitchery. Furious at her seat assignment at the award ceremonies (even though she was actually in a most prestigious area), she ordered her escort (unsuccessfully) to ask actor Michael York to give up his front-row spot.
Always on the arm of a glamourous man when, as at Cannes, she is without Mick, Bianca laughingly dismisses reports of lovers. “They even write about me having affairs with many of my best friends who are homosexuals.” She does not kid herself that Mick, every groupie’s dream, is equally faithful. “I don’t expect Mick to just pray to God while on tour,” she philosophizes. “But what relationships he has are superficial. Yes, it bothers me but it is the way to keep our marriage alive. We must both breathe and be apart—reuniting is like falling in love all over again. I have to be blind to certain things he does. I am afraid one day he will find someone else, that I will lose him. But, he, too, is afraid of the same thing.”
Jagger is exceptionally lucid, even erudite, on many subjects—but he clams up about the First Family of rock. He does say marriage and fatherhood have probably changed him, but adds: “I can’t analyze how—not yet. Having a child is a challenge.” Jagger and the Stones have endured at the top longer than any other rock band, but as for the future, Jagger admits that it could all suddenly end. “I only meant to do it for two years. I guess the band would just disperse one day and say goodbye. I would continue to write and sing, but I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.” What else does he foresee for himself and his family? “I have learned a lot,” he says, very sober and un-Satanlike, “but not enough yet. It’s very difficult living on the road.”