On 12th December 2012 Sothebys
London will offer a remarkable series of passionate and articulate love letters written by Mick Jagger to his lover, the beautiful black American singer (and inspiration for Brown Sugar) Marsha Hunt, during the summer of 1969. The letters were written while Jagger, the frontman of the worlds most successful rock band was in Australia filming the movie Ned Kelly and their relationship was a closely guarded secret. Jagger was at the height of his creative powers and the symbol of rebellious youth: Hunt was the image of Black is Beautiful and the face of the landmark West End production of Hair. Beguilingly lyrical and displaying a wide range of cultural interests, Jaggers letters, written at a time of great personal and professional turmoil, shed new light on the rock legend. Estimated to realise £70,000-100,000, the collection, which includes song lyrics and a Rolling Stones playlist, will be the centrepiece of Sothebys English Literature & History sale.
Marsha Hunt commented: When a serious historian finally examines how and why Britains boy bands affected international culture and politics, this well-preserved collection of Mick Jaggers hand written letters will be a revelation. Written during the summer of 69 from a Tony Richardson filmset in the Australian outback, they touch upon the first moon landing, John and Yoko, Christopher Isherwood and the Isle of Wight Festival. Theyre addressed to me. I was 23, American born, Berkeley educated, and London-based. Despite his high profile and my own as a singer, actress, Vogue model and star of Londons original Hair cast, our delicate love affair remains as much part of his secret history as his concerns over the death of Brian Jones and the suicide attempt of his girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull.
Dr Gabriel Heaton, Sothebys Books Specialist said: These beautifully written and lyrical letters from the heart of the cultural and social revolution of 1969, frame a vivid moment in cultural history. Here we see Mick Jagger, not as the global superstar he has become, but as a poetic and self-aware 25-year-old, with wideranging intellectual and artistic interests. Written from a film set in the Australian Outback in that momentous year for The Stones, just after their landmark Hyde Park concert and before the tragic events of Altamont, we are afforded an insight into how one of the central actors in the momentous cultural events of the time saw the world as it changed around him. They provide a rare glimpse of Jagger that is very different from his public persona: passionate but self-contained, lyrical but with a strong sense of irony.‛
In Spring 1969 Marsha Hunt was approached by The Rolling Stones office and invited to appear scantily dressed in a photo shoot for their forthcoming single Honky Tonk Women. Conscious of her position as a role model for young black women, Hunt refused: I didnt want to look like Id just been had by all the Rolling Stones, she recalls. After unsuccessfully attempting to persuade her to reconsider over the telephone, Mick Jagger appeared at midnight at the door of her Bloomsbury apartment. As she recalled in her 1986 memoir Real Life, he stood, framed by the doorway as he stood grinning with a dark coat
He drew one hand out of his pocket and pointed it at me like a pistol
Bang. It was the start of a passionate and initially clandestine affair, at a time when interracial relationships were charged to a degree that is difficult to imagine today. Their relationship was a potent symbol of a new sexual and racial order. In 1970, Hunt became the mother of Mick Jaggers first child.
The letters, sent while Jagger was on location in Australia, are written on a range of headed stationery (from Chevron Hotel, Sydney; JHA Sykes, Palerand, Bungendore, New South Wales and Woodfall Limited, Bondi Junction, New South Wales). One was composed on 20th July 1969, the day of the Moon Landing and dated: Sunday the Moon. References to poetry, responses to the unfamiliar landscape, anxiety about the future of his relationship with Hunt co-exist with the familiar Jagger swagger of deliberately mis-spelt words, surreal flights of fancy, and raw sexual desire. In one memorable passage Jagger writes of lying in a bed "with a lyre at the head" in a converted hayloft, thinking of her whilst listening to the alien sounds of the outback in the heart of a forest of strange trees.
The correspondence encompasses a wide-range of subject matter, including:
The couples relationship:
I feel with you something so unsung there is no need to sing it
His impressions of the Australian outback: the early morning mist "
turns red and violent then hard and warm
His wide-ranging cultural interests (sometimes inspired by books Marsha had sent him): ...I toy through Nijinksys diaries
Contemporary pop culture:
John & Yoko boring everybody
His reputation. He thanks her for being
so nice to an evil old man like me.
A party where the girls are so plain all he can do is
.eat chocolate eclairs.
Christopher Isherwoods screenplay of I Claudius:
I hope I get the part of Caligula
One letter incorporates the full lyrics for the song Monkey Man, rewritten with three additional lines. The collection also includes a track list in Jaggers hand listing nine Rolling Stones songs with brief comments (OK, dodgy, etc).
The letters contain oblique references to the death of Brian Jones and Jaggers increasingly difficult relationship with Marianne Faithfull (with whom he was due to star in Ned Kelly, but almost immediately on arrival in Australia, Faithfull took an overdose of barbiturates and almost died). The on-set experience was not a positive one. Jaggers hand was badly burnt when a prop pistol misfired in his hand and the injury is apparent in the shifts in his handwriting. The letters reveal his ultimate disillusionment with the business of movie-making.