Rock legend Mick Jagger credits a critical newspaper editorial with saving him from serving his full prison term for a minor drug charge back in 1967.
The Rolling Stones frontman was given three months behind bars for possession of amphetamines following a police raid at bandmate Keith Richards’ Redlands country home in West Sussex, England, where the musicians were said to have engaged in a wild, drug-fuelled sex party.
Fellow attendees included Jagger and Richards’ then-girlfriends, singer Marianne Faithfull and the late Anita Pallenberg, respectfully, and The Beatles star George Harrison and model Pattie Boyd, who had left by the time cops arrived.
Jagger and Richards, who was handed a year in prison for permitting the smoking of cannabis resin in his property, were made examples of during their sentencing for being at the forefront of a new generation of rebellious rockers, but they weren’t locked up for long, thanks to a Times op-ed penned by William Rees-Mogg.
“The Stones were good targets. We made good copy,” Jagger tells The Times. “It was the idea of degenerative moral standards. They were looking for scapegoats for some sort of generational lifestyle thing.”
In the article, Rees-Mogg called out the authorities, insisting Jagger was being excessively punished simply for who he was and what he represented, instead of having the case judged on the severity of the crime.
“Mr Jagger’s (situation) is about as mild a drug case as can ever have been brought before the courts…,” Rees-Mogg declared. “There must remain a suspicion in this case that Mr. Jagger received a more severe sentence than would have been thought proper for any purely anonymous young man.”
Jagger recalls reading the article while serving time, and it was Rees-Mogg’s argument which apparently prompted authorities to reverse their prison decision and allow him to walk free.
“That editorial got me out jail,” the 73-year-old singer shares. “One day it dropped, and the next thing I was out…”
“The Times editorial was something to be reckoned with…,” he continues. “Rees-Mogg was really pointing out the hysteria of the rest of the press and the justice system in general and he was saying, ‘Come on guys, this is just not English fair play kind of thing’.”
Ironically, Jagger has since become a member of the establishment, landing a knighthood for services to popular music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2002. He was officially appointed as a ‘Sir’ in 2003.