A British publisher has told The Daily Beast that a “lost” Mick Jagger autobiography that is the equivalent of the “dead sea scrolls” for Rolling Stones fans is “gathering dust” on his desk after Jagger declined to allow it to be published.
John Blake was handed the “pristine” 75,000-word manuscript—which he believes was written by Mick with the assistance of a ghostwriter and details how Jagger bought a crumbling multimillion-pound country mansion while high on LSD—by an anonymous source three years ago, but when he reached out to Jagger to establish its authenticity, he was told that Jagger couldn’t remember whether or not it he had worked on such a project.
After he sent the document to Jagger’s secretary, she told Blake that Jagger did remember it, and was happy to have it published providing Blake—who has worked with Jagger in a former career as a music writer—wrote a foreword making clear the book was written in 1981.
Blake enthusiastically agreed. However, after several years of back and forth, Mick has now lost interest in the project, he says, and publication seems unlikely.
Blake told The Daily Beast that he believes the document is in fact a first draft of a biography commissioned by Lord Weidenfeld, who paid Jagger an advance of £1 million in 1980 for his memoir, convincing the Stones frontman that telling his own story would put a stop to the countless unauthorized biographies.
The story goes that Jagger paid back the money, saying that all the years of drugs and debauchery had fried his brain and he couldn’t remember anything.
However, Blake told The Daily Beast that he believes the manuscript was rejected because it was not salacious enough and did not go into enough detail about Jagger’s celebrated love life.
“I think it was probably rejected because they wanted sex and drugs. That was what was needed in books of this sort at that time. The story was that he couldn’t recall anything and gave the money back, and said, ‘I’m never going to write the book’ but this is clearly it. He wouldn’t have written another book.”
Although light on debauchery, the book does contain some entertaining stories of excess, according to Blake, including the tale of how Jagger bought a historic mansion, Stargroves, for £55,000 from its aristocratic owner while high on acid.
The band recorded a number of albums and singles at Stargroves, including various tracks that appeared on Exile On Main Street, Sticky Fingers, and It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll.
Blake told The Daily Beast that the book showed a very “sweet” side of Jagger.
“For Rolling Stones fans this is like the Dead Sea Scrolls,” he said, “It’s so fantastic—like Elvis or John Lennon had written an autobiography. It’s a real tragedy that it’s not going to be published. It’s an extraordinary document.
“People will be writing PhDs on the Stones and this would be the best primary source ever seen. It’s so full of insight into his character. I know it would be a number one bestseller all around the world, but instead it’s just gathering dust on my desk.”
Blake says that as the book was written around 1980—when Jagger, born in 1943, was in his late 30s—“it has a quality of innocence. It’s youthful and passionate and sweet. If you look at Keith (Richards) or Eric (Clapton)’s books, they are much more world weary because they were written by 70-year-old men.”
If the book does ever get Jagger’s go-ahead, it won’t be the first time Blake has worked on a book about the Stones. In 1979 he co-wrote a tome with Tony Sanchez entitled I Was Keith Richards’ Drug Dealer and subsequently re-titled Up and Down With The Rolling Stones.
Jagger reportedly found it amusing, but the next time Richards saw Blake, he simply asked him, “Would you like a .38 or a .45?”