Mick Jagger has loved , and left, thousands of women. But at what cost to them? In the second part of this fascinating series, we reveal the price former flame Marsha Hunt paid for taking him on . . .
On a cold winter’s morning six years ago, the ghosts of Mick Jagger’s past assembled in the gloom of a churchyard in suburban Twickenham to mourn the passing of his beloved father Joe.
Among the disparate members of the congregation who filed into the nondescript St Mary’s College chapel to pay their respects were two women whose very presence was testament to the redemptive power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Leading in her 36-year-old daughter Karis was Mick’s old flame Marsha Hunt, who for nearly a decade in the Seventies had fought a bitter and bloodthirsty battle with the Rolling Stone to force him to accept the child was his. Mick Jagger holds Karis, the daughter he had with former flame Marsha Hunt
Now, as Karis tenderly kissed and hugged her father, Miss Hunt greeted Jagger with the warmth reserved for a cherished old friend.
Given the depth of their past loathing for each other, it would once have seemed unthinkable that such a peace could break out between the warring former lovers. But the calm wasn’t to last. Battle erupted again late last year, despite this touching graveside scene. And the animosity would be fueled by one of Jagger’s great loves. Not another woman, but money. And it’s money that has set Mick against Marsha, over and over again.
It’s true that their affair had been overwhelmingly passionate — as was revealed last month in a series of ten love letters, written by Jagger to Miss Hunt during the height of their romance, which sold at Sotheby’s in London for nearly £190,000.
In one, 25-year-old Jagger writes: ‘I will kiss you softly. And bite your mouth, too.’
In poetic mood in another letter, Mick ruminates: ‘If I sailed with you around the world, all my sails would be unfurled.’
Miss Hunt had a passionate affair with the Rolling Stone, who wrote a series of love letters during the height of their romance. But it was this auction that reopened old wounds with Mick, who is said to be furious that his private thoughts have been sold to the highest bidder.
Miss Hunt, who now lives in a dilapidated house in rural France that urgently requires repairs, candidly admits she sold the letters to a mystery collector because she needs the money.
‘I’m broke,’ she says. ‘Anyone who has the impression that I have money knows nothing about me. I had friends who came to visit from Pennsylvania and there was no electricity in the house because the bill had been too high.’
‘One of my friends said: “Surely you’ve got something you could sell?” ’
It’s not the first time Mick’s billets-doux have come back to haunt him.
Several years ago, he took legal action to stop another ex-girlfriend, Chrissie Shrimpton, from publishing a series of letters he sent her in the early Sixties. Few would blame 66-year-old Marsha if she has not privately enjoyed a frisson of schadenfreude at Mick’s embarrassment over having his lovestruck musings of more than 40 years ago read by complete strangers.
After all, not only did he cruelly dump her when she was pregnant, but she was then forced to take him on in a legal battle to make him acknowledge Karis was his daughter and pay his way in her upbringing. His treatment of his ex-lover was a classic case of the icy chill that countless of Jagger’s women — he is said to have slept with up to 4,000 — have discovered quickly replaces the white heat of his passion once his interest has waned.
Back in the late Sixties, Mick announced his affair with Miss Hunt in typically public — if heartless — fashion. Two days after the band’s ex-guitarist Brian Jones was found dead in the swimming pool of his Sussex home, the Rolling Stones played a tribute concert to him in front of 250,000 people in London’s Hyde Park.
This being Mick, the solemnity of the occasion on July 5, 1969, would not be allowed to interfere with his raging libido. Jagger is said to have been furious Miss Hunt sold love letters he sent her at auction. For sitting in the crowd, just yards from his live-in girlfriend of three years, Marianne Faithfull, was singer Marsha, the latest celebrity notch on the Jagger bedpost.
And, as if inviting both rivals for his affection was not brazen enough, Mick tactlessly, and tastelessly, opened the musical part of the show by belting out a cover version of the rock song I’m Yours And I’m Hers.
Its not-so-hidden-meaning spoke volumes about Jagger’s monumental ego and his callously flippant approach to his female conquests. Certainly, it was a cruel public humiliation for the 22-year-old Marianne, given that she — along with half of London — was already well aware that her singer boyfriend was cheating on her with Hunt.
Two days later, Marianne and Jagger flew to Australia where he was due to begin playing the starring role in the flop film Ned Kelly.
As I revealed on Saturday in the first instalment of the Mail’s major four-part series about Jagger’s women, on their arrival in Sydney, Miss Faithfull — struggling with a hopeless addiction to heroin and stung by his betrayal — tried to kill herself in their hotel room by taking 150 Tuinal barbiturates.
She slipped into a coma for six days and was given the last rites before making a miraculous recovery. As she recuperated in hospital, Jagger poured out his heart in a series of emotional letters. They were not, however, humble entreaties for forgiveness addressed to the still gravely sick Marianne, but passionate missives to Marsha Hunt back in London.
Some of the letters, which were included in the auction last month, were even written on headed hotel notepaper in the room at the city’s Chevron hotel, where Miss Faithfull had tried to kill herself days earlier. Jagger had first spotted Miss Hunt when she appeared as the female lead in the controversial musical Hair, which scandalized London in 1968 with its full-frontal nudity, four-letter words and references to drug-taking.
Mick, who had developed a taste for beautiful black girls, got his PA to contact Marsha to ask her to appear on the cover of the Stones’ new single, Honky Tonk Women, dressed as a tart. She refused, but a few nights later, Mick turned up at her flat in London’s Bloomsbury. Within days their clandestine affair was in full swing.
Born into a poor family in Philadelphia, Marsha had studied at the prestigious Berkeley University in California, before coming to Britain in 1966 at the age of 20. Her stunning looks quickly attracted a string of famous suitors, including Marc Bolan and her co-star in Hair, Paul Nicholas. Jagger, in a testament to those politically incorrect times, nicknamed his new lover Miss Fuzzy.
And, while in Australia the following year, it was for her that he wrote Brown Sugar — his provocative eulogy to interracial sex and drugs that he had crudely originally titled Black P***y.
Within months, his faltering relationship with Marianne Faithfull was over and Mick moved Marsha into his house overlooking the Thames on Chelsea embankment. Already missing Marianne’s son, Nicholas, to whom he had become a surrogate father, he took Marsha out to Mr Chow restaurant in Knightsbridge, where he asked her to have his child.
She quickly became pregnant and a misty-eyed Jagger talked about wanting a son, whom he had decided, in typical flower-power fashion, to call Midnight Dream. The social-climbing Jumpin’ Jack Flash also decided he would send the boy to Eton. But within three months, Jagger was already going cold on the relationship — and was casting his roving eye over the latest of a carousel of girls he had marked down to share his bed.
One was a blonde 22-year-old American called Janice Kenner, whom he employed as his personal ‘cook’ with instructions that as well as rustling up his dinner, she would satisfy his sexual cravings, too. Stung by Mick’s coolness towards her, Marsha moved out. He wasted no time in installing another beautiful American, 22-year-old Californian model Catherine James, who had recently dated his friend Eric Clapton, into his Chelsea home.
Despite Marsha carrying his child, practically all references to her and the baby were quickly airbrushed out of his life.
Catherine James told me: ‘When I moved into Mick’s house, I knew about Marsha, but his relationship with her was already over. It didn’t seem a big deal to him. He just mentioned that she was a girl he had met who had got pregnant. He said he wasn’t in love with her, but she was very talented.’
‘I felt he was not encumbered by anything, not by Marsha or the baby. He was young, and I didn’t get the impression he was thinking seriously about becoming a father and being part of this child’s life.’
Unable to work in the final weeks of her pregnancy, a hard-up Marsha reluctantly contacted Mick to ask for money. He sent her a relatively miserly £200 and when their daughter, Karis, was born on November 4, 1970, at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, she went through the birth alone. It was several days before he deigned to put in an appearance.
It would be one of only a handful of times he would make time to see the baby. When, finally, Marsha snapped and accused him of neglecting their child, he brutally told her he had never loved her. Marsha, who loyally kept the identity of her daughter’s father a secret from the world, was forced to bring her up without almost any financial help from the stingy Mick.
‘I never remember him talking about their child. In fact, I wasn’t aware of a baby being around at all. It was almost like Karis didn’t exist.’ -Chris O’Dell, Jagger’s PA in the early Seventies
When the infant was scalded by hot tea in an accident and needed to spend ten days in a private hospital, the £75 cost of her treatment, which the millionaire Jagger promised to meet, was not forthcoming.
Finally, after trying and failing to persuade him to set up a £25,000 trust fund for the child, Miss Hunt’s lawyers formulated a sting. She arranged to meet Jagger at the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens and her lawyers jumped out to serve a paternity write on him.
In June 1973, Marsha launched a court action and after three hearings, Mick agreed to pay into a £10,000 trust for Karis, plus £500 a year, in an out-of-court deal. However, Jagger’s lawyers bizarrely insisted his former lover sign papers saying he was not the father.
‘I don’t know why Mick did that because he told me at the time that Karis was his child,’ Jagger’s ex-girlfriend Catherine James told me.
‘I think the problem was that Marsha wanted something from him — i.e. money. At the beginning, she had told him she would deal with everything to do with the baby herself.’
‘She’d said: “Don’t worry about this. I’m going to care of it.” And then she was suing him. I think that put Mick off, to say the least.
‘He wouldn’t have anything to do with her. I actually got to know Marsha at that time and she didn’t like him very much. She was very angry with him.’
By the time Karis was seven, her mother was reduced to claiming welfare handouts in Los Angeles where she moved in a bid to revive her flagging showbiz career. Finally, she hired hotshot lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, who had successfully sued a string of rich and famous men for maintenance on behalf of his women clients.
‘He wouldn’t have anything to do with her. I actually got to know Marsha at that time and she didn’t like him very much.’ -Catherine James, Jagger’s ex-girlfriend
In January 1979, a court in LA ruled that Jagger was the girl’s father and ordered him to pay $1,500-a-month child support. Only then, after not laying eyes on his daughter for five years, did Mick belatedly begin playing a part in her life.
In 1992, when Karis graduated from America’s prestigious Yale University, her proud father was there, video camera in hand. Mick also invited her to Buckingham Palace when he accepted his knighthood from Prince Charles in 2003. A year earlier, the Stone wiped away tears when he was on hand to give away Karis, now a film producer in Los Angeles, as she married film director Jonathan Watson. The couple have two children.
Now a novelist and biographer, Marsha, who split with her boyfriend, Irish filmmaker Alan Gilsenan, in 1999, has a home in Ireland as well as a French retreat. As for her once fractious relationship with the 69-year-old Jagger, they had appeared to have buried the hatchet before he hit the roof over her putting his love letters up for sale.
Indeed, Mick was on the guest list at a rather strange party thrown by his ex when she embarked on successful treatment for breast cancer in 2004. Each guest was handed a pair of scissors and invited by Marsha to cut off a lock of her hair before the chemotherapy, which she was about to begin, made it fall out.
And, as we have learnt, she was there to offer her condolences when Mick mourned the death of his 93-year-old father, Joe, from pneumonia in December 2006. Considering the appalling way Jagger once treated her and their daughter, Miss Hunt is clearly the forgiving type.
Whether Jagger can show such maturity — and rise above his rage about the sale of his letters — remains to be seen.
- Spotlight: Marsha Hunt – Model, Actress and KolorBlind Rock Mom… (kolorblindmag.com)
- Marsha Hunt is putting her love letters from Mick Jagger up for auction (examiner.com)
- Mick Jagger’s love letters to ex-lover Marsha Hunt, to be auctioned in London (vancouversun.com)