The singer and actress first came to prominence in 1964 with the Jagger/Richards penned “As Tears Go By” and shortly after became Mick Jagger’s steady girlfriend for over three years until drug addiction stroke her life costing her voice
1960’s icon and Rolling Stones muse Marianne Faithfull celebrates 77
The first Rolling Stones’ muse, Marianne Faithfull is still remembered and regarded as one of the 1960’s biggest symbols, the eternal Mick Jagger girlfriend who keeps influencing new emerging artists with her unique music and art
Born in London, England on December 29, 1946, Marianne Faithfull came to prominence during the mid 1960’s after releasing her first single “As Tears Go By” in 1964, penned by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Stones manager Andrew Lood Oldham, becoming one of the lead female artists of the 1960’s British Invasion. The song, which was also recorded and released successfully by the Rolling Stones in 1965, but it still remains mostly associated with Faithfull. During the decade she had other notable hits such as “Four Strong Winds”, “Come My Way” or “Come and Stay With Me”. Though she was already popular due to her music, it was her relationship with Mick Jagger that would re-force her popularity, leaving her music to second plan during the years the relation lasted, only releasing one album and two singles, which in comparison to the first part of her career as a singer had not the same commercial impact, however at the same time she also begun her acting career. Jagger and Faithfull begun their relationship in 1966 after she moved to the Stones’ Brian Jones and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg in London with her baby son. During that period Faithfull begun part of the Rolling Stones close circle and family, and begun to use regularly recreational drugs which later would take it’s toll on her life and career. Together, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were one of the most famous celebrity couples, part of the hip Swinging London scene. Due to the proximity of the Stones with The Beatles, Marianne also became part of The Beatles circle and she can be heard singing back vocals on “Yellow Submarine” together with Brian Jones.
Marianne Faithfull performing As Tears Go By, 1964
In 1967, the singer was involved in one of Rock’s history most famous episodes when she was found wearing only a fur rug by police executing a drug search at Keith Richards’s house in West Wittering, Sussex. The story made the front page news in the U.K, and has she stated decades later “It destroyed me. To be a male drug addict and to act like that is always enhancing and glamorizing. A woman in that situation becomes a slut and a bad mother.” The Rolling Stones satirized that infamous episode on the 1967 song “We Love You”, featuring Marianne Faithfull on the promo film (music video). By 1968 Faithfull was heavily addicted to drugs, specially cocaine, and miscarried hers and Jagger’s daughter whom she had named Corrina. It was the beginning of a dark period in the artist’s life, still in that same year of 1968 she started to use heroin, a drug addiction that would take her decades to abandon. During the legendary “Rolling Stones Rock N’ Roll Circus” in November 1968, Marianne Faithfull performed “Something Better”, eclipsed by the top perform nces of The Who, John Lennon and the Stones. Between 1968 and 1969, Marianne Faithfull’s presence in the Rolling Stones inside circle was pivotal to the development of the album “Beggars Banquet”, most notably in the song “Sympathy for the Devil” that was inspired by a book she offered to Jagger; she also sung back vocals in the song as part of the choir that included the other Stones Charlie, Bill, Brian and Keith, Anita Pallemberg and photographer Michael Cooper.
Music film for We Love You by the Rolling Stones feat. Marianne Faithfull, 1967
Marianne Faithfull performing Come and Stay With Me, 1966
Another song she influenced was “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” featured the 1969 album “Let It Bleed”, supposedly written and composed about her. Jagger and Faithfull separated in 1970, but she was able to influence the songs “Wild Horses” and “I Got the Blues” on the 1971 album “Sticky Fingers”and co-wrote “Sister Morphine”. At the time, she was anorexic, homeless and battling with heroin addiction. She moved briefly to Paris living with Jean de Breteuil, a popular heroin dealer for Rock stars at that time. He was also connected to The Doors front-man Jim Morrison through his relationship with Pamela Courson, Morrison’s girlfriend who was also a heroin addict. Not too long ago, Marianne Faithfull remembered being with Breteuil the morning he got a call from Pamela Courson telling him Jim Morrison had died from a drug overdose. The couple had been living in Paris, at the same time Faithfull was, and though Morrison’s death cause is still involved in mystery, Marianne Faithfull assured it was a heroin overdose that killed The Doors singer at 27 at his apartment in Paris and that same day she and Breteuil flew away to Marrakesh, afraid they could be involved in Morrison’s death.
Marianne Faithfull performing Plaisir D’Amour, 1966
The whole 1970’s decade would be not favorable to her career, she got severe laryngitis coupled with her drug abuse which permanently altered her once mellow and sweet voice, leaving it cracked and lower in pitch. One of her career’s highlights during the 1970’s was when she appeared next to David Bowie in 1973 doing a duet together of the song “I Got You Babe” for a Bowie TV Special. By the late 1970’s she was able to score a minor hit with “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” released in 1979 on the album “Broken English”. She was able to free herself from decades of drug addiction by the late 1980’s, reinventing her career as a singer and continuing to act. One of her most memorable music collaborations was in 1997 with Metallica in the song “The Memory Remains”, introducing her to a new generation. Since then, Faithfull has been leading a much successful and discreet career, not producing smash hits, but making quality and enduring music, often still working the Stones as musicians or producers, but she’s still haunted by her health problems resultant of decades of substance abuse. In 2007, on the UK television program This Morning, Marianne Faithfull stated she suffered from hepatitis C, and that she had first been diagnosed with the condition 12 years before while also having other severe health problems. In 1999, Faithfull ranked 25th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll and in 2011, was awarded the Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s highest cultural honours. Her latest album “Negative Capability”, was released in 2018 and today she turns 77.
Marianne Faithfull performing Something Better live at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, 1968
Marianne Faithfull and David Bowie performing I Got You Babe, Live for The 1980 Floorshow, London Marquee Club 1973
Marianne Faithfull performing The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, at TopPop 1979
Music video for The Memory Remains by Metallica feat. Marianne Faithfull, 1996
Marianne Faithfull interviewed by Nick Cave, Paris, 2018
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