Mick Jagger - It's Only Rock ' Roll!

Okay, so not quite what many of you might be thinking, but yes, I slept in the same house as Mick… for a week as it happens!

Actually his house, Stargroves. Why? As a newish recording engineer and de-facto ‘Manager’ of the Island Records Mobile Recording Studio in London back in the early-’70s that’s just what you did as part of the job right??!

The Rolling Stones – Mick, Keith, Charlie, Bill and the boys – were all staying at Stargroves (Mick’s place) with the specific purpose (apparently!) to do what are called ‘overdubs’ or ‘re-recordings’ of various tracks from what was to be their latest soon-to-be-released Live LP recording It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll.

Basically, they were fixing up any less than perfect singing, guitar riffs, drumming etc. before releasing a ‘Live’ album … Yep, it’s not the first time this has ever happened and certainly not the last!

Brian in The Rig Mobile - 1980In the 1970s, mobile recording studios were a very new ‘thing’. It allowed artists to be recorded in studio quality at any location they wanted. Live gigs, at their ‘luxury hideaways’ or anywhere really!

That’s exactly what I was doing as an assistant recording engineer of the Island Records Mobile Studio – the very first 24-track mobile studio in Europe and only the second mobile studio next to the Stones’ original and only (at the time) 16-track mobile studio.

Don’t let the numbers confuse you. Like most endeavours, the bigger the number (tracks in this instance) the better…

For marketing purposes, at least!

As a naive Australian kid (I was about 20-something) and with a whole ‘five years of media experience’ in Australia, meeting ‘famous people’ wasn’t such a big deal. Yes, it was Mick Jagger, but hey…

Very early one morning Mr Jagger himself wandered into the mobile studio while I was setting things up for the day and said, “Morning!” (He was always an early riser and fitness fanatic!)

I turned around and said: “G’day!”... Mick then immediately said: “Oh an Aussie eh?... I’ve been to Australia”, as if I didn’t know he had not that long ago been the lead in the Aussie movie Ned Kelly! He proceeded to tell me a few things about his - what turned out to be - rather controversial role as Ned.

In the meantime, breakfast was being served and he said: “C’mon mate, let’s have some brekky” (in a very pommy/faux Australian accent). It was pretty funny at the time.

Not being a wannabe star follower (there are other less than ‘nice’ names for that), I joined Mick and some of the other guys from our mobile studio for breakfast while the rest of the Stones slept!

At the time I thought nothing of it. Breakfast with Mick Jagger? Doesn’t everyone?
Today though, wow! I wish I had asked even more questions at the time AND taken some photos!!!

Despite a heap of detail revealed about relationships between the various members of the Rolling Stones at that time, it was an amazing experience for a 20-something-year-old and it said a lot about a bloke (Mick Jagger) who came from a pretty ordinary upbringing to being a mega-superstar who at the end of the day was not only very talented, but very smart…

He in fact had been studying for a commerce degree prior to getting into music full-time!

I have met and worked with a number of celebrities throughout my career and Mick Jagger really was one of the very few real ‘stars’ I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with. There was no bull**** and no pretentiousness, though I suppose sometimes you’ve just got to play the part. He was a very genuine sort of guy as far as I could see at the time.

Go Mick, I love your work! Hope all is good since your heart operation back in 2019 and that you continue to be one of the major influencers in Rock 'n Roll for a few more years to come!

(c) 2020 Brian Pickering - Originally published on Starts@60
PHOTO Right: (c) 1980 Brian Pickering in the Rig Mobile 16tk Studio Brisbane which I helped build with a mate... more on THAT soon!

Due to (c) reasons we can only provide a link to this photo!
PHOTO Link: My boss at the time of this story, Joe Yu in the original Island Records 24tk Mobile Studio 1972 which I helped build and then was Manager for about 2 years travelling all over the UK & Europe!

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