Say It's Your Birthday: Mick Jagger

Today is the birthday of old man Mick Jagger. The frontman

for the Rolling Stones is now 53. Though the group at times now falls into

self-parody, Jagger and Keith Richards will forever be known as one of rock's

best songwriting teams. Songs like "Honky Tonk Women," "Jumping Jack Flash,"

"As Tears Go By," "Satisfaction," "Mother's Little Helper," "Wild Horses" and

so many more have helped define rock 'n' roll, as did the group's once awesome

sound, which evolved from the "white boys play the blues" routine of their

first

album to something truly distinctive by the time they released December's

Children in the mid-'60s.

Mick Jagger was born Michael Phillip Jagger

today in 1943. Since the Stone's inception in 1962, the flamboyant, endlessly

cocky Jagger has strutted around like he ruled the world; by the time he

anointed the Stones "The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band" in the late '60s,

few people outside of the Beatles disputed the claim. The Stones' success lies

in their interpretation of Chicago Blues; although other English bands such as

The Yardbirds also focused on packaging American blues for white British

audiences, none did so as successfully, or for as long, as the Stones. The

Stones, who burst onto the international music scene in the 1964 British

Invasion, promoted themselves as the bad boys of rock in contrast to the

spirituality and earnestness of The Beatles, the Stones only real competition

in terms of influence. Jagger, a relentless self-promoter, contrasted himself

as the mysterious, charismatic, dangerous frontman compared to the more laconic

Keith Richards, the Stones lead guitarist since the drowning death of Brian

Jones in 1969. The murder of a fan by a Hell's Angel at a 1969 concert at the

Altamont Speedway while the Stones performed only solidified their "dangerous"

reputation. From 1964's England's Newest Hitmakers to 1972's Exile on

Main Street, virtually all of the Stones' albums were classics (1967's

psychedelic Their Satanic Majesties Request being a notable exception)

and their string of hits--"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Mother's Little

Helper," "Paint it Black," "The Last Time," "Ruby Tuesday," "Under My Thumb,"

"Jumpin' Jack Flash," "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and "Sympathy for

the Devil," to name a few--were unprecedented in both their popularity

and their dark, explicitly sexual, manipulative and tortuous themes.

The Stones, now

more of a cultural institution than a working band, remains together. When they

released their most recent studio album, Voodoo Lounge, the Stones also

released their own credit card. Jagger's three solo albums--1984's

She's the

Boss, 1987's Primitive Cool, and 1993's Wandering

Spirit--all

more or less sucked. Also born today, a trio of 1941 babies: Bobby Hebb,

Brenton Wood, and Dobie Gray, plus Queen's Roger Taylor (1949). --Seth

Mnookin