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David Miller: Arise, Sir Mick

David Miller Online

Arise Sir Mick: Why Mick Jagger Deserves his Knighthood

As a fan of the Rolling Stones, I am pleased to see that Mick Jagger has finally received his knighthood, although not everyone is so thrilled to see the man who is one of the greatest performers in rock honoured.

Rolling Stone biographer Philip Norman is quoted as saying that the decision to make the 58 year old rocker a Knight of the Realm was "a disgrace and travesty" and according to Norman the only reason this has happened is because of Prime Minister Tony Blair's "pathetic attempts to win popularity by schmoozing pop musicians and soap opera stars." I have read Norman’s biography of the Stones which covers their careers from the beginnings in the sixties through to the Bridges of Babylon tour that ended at the beginning of the new millennium and I would be interested to know his reasons for making these comments. After all, Mick, or Sir Michael as he is now known, is the most famous living rock star in the world today and I can only assume that Norman objects to Sir Michael’s award on the grounds that he has a somewhat tainted reputation as a womaniser and someone who has used drugs. I'm sure if Sir Michael would not deny he has earned this reputation but should this have prevented him from receiving the honour?

The criticism that Sir Michael has received for his honour concerns his reputation. While many of his contemporaries revelled in the rebellious image in their 20’s, he continues to do so even as he approaches 60. Stars such as Sir Elton John, who himself has a history of drug abuse and excess, now spend much of their time hosting charity events and can be seen splashed across the pages of publications such as OK Magazine and Hello attending star studded parties and dinners. Another former rebel turned clean-cut family guy, Sir Paul McCartney, has recently married for the second time and before that was almost as famous for having one of the most stable marriages in show business as he was for his music.

On the other hand, one can usually read about Sir Michael’s exploits in the tabloids or women’s gossip magazines and usually the stories relate to his pursuit of young women and rather hedonistic lifestyle instead of any charity work. Whereas Sir Paul married in an old Irish castle with hundreds of guests, Sir Michael chose an Indonesian beach with only his children in attendance and then somehow never managed to file the papers with a lawyer thus giving himself the opportunity to claim the whole thing was not legal and try to avoid paying Jerry Hall too much of a divorce settlement. This led to him being dubbed the meanest man in Britain and followed the announcement that he had fathered a child to Brazilian model Lucian Morad.

If there is one thing that Sir Michael has relied on the most to maintain his position at the top of the music world it is his ability to change with the times and the trends when required too. In the rebellious, anti-establishment sixties he became the Street Fighting Man and provided a figurehead for those who question authority. In the Seventies he adopted sparkling satin jump suits and epitomised the era of glam rock. The anti-disco eighties could have dealt a death knell to such a performer except for the fact that Sir Michael suddenly reappeared as a conservative family man with a “just say no” attitude. Unfortunately the birth of young Lucas and the divorce ended all that in the nineties and Sir Michael reappeared as something of a playboy. Not only does Sir Michael adopt a different dress sense when it suits but he also has a range of accents he can adopt depending on his situation.

The fiasco surrounding his divorce and the birth of his seventh child led to much criticism and negative publicity being directed at Sir Michael and the poor sales of his recent solo album Goddess in the Doorway only served to increase the calls that the old rogue of rock should retire. It appeared that given his never ending pursuit of women young enough to be his daughter he was determined to be remembered as not as one of the greats of rock but as someone who could not accept that he too was a susceptible to the aging process. However by announcing that the Rolling Stones are to embark on another world tour, Sir Michael has once again placed himself in a position to reaffirm his status as one of the all time great performers. It seems in keeping that as a man of so many contrasts he has taken this course and it will be through his efforts on stage that the masses respond to him with adulation and any indiscretions offstage will be instantly forgotten. Correction, they will not forgotten, they will simply be put aside. After all, the secret of Sir Michael’s success is that while he needs to change and adapt to the times, he cannot grow old gracefully. His reputation and stardom was built on bad behaviour. He never sold out and that is the reason why three generations of audience are still mesmerised and fascinated by Mick Jagger. That is why he deserves his knighthood.

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