Mick Jagger’s second ghostwriter has detailed the ‘awful experience’ which led him to quit one of rock’n’roll’s most anticipated music bios – which may now be lost forever, after the subject also abandoned the project.
Mick Jagger’s memoir is one of the most sought-after pieces of rock’n’roll history, but given his second ghostwriter quit after an “awful experience” trying to write it almost 40 years ago, it may be a posthumous piece.
Author Barry Coleman took over the project when the original writer quit, and recently revealed to The Guardian that he spent a miserable fortnight trying to work with the reluctant Rolling Stones frontman before Jagger abandoned the project, paying back his £1 million advance.
“We had one conversation, then he stopped returning my calls,” Coleman said of the project’s first ghostwriter.
“Then the publishers told me that they now had a deal for the US market but they needed the finished book within two weeks or the deal was off.”
Chosen for his speedy writing time, knocking out a biography on champion American motorcyclist Kenny Roberts in only 10 weeks, Coleman was shocked to discover the Jagger project in pieces.
“Two chapters were more or less presentable,” he said.
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“The rest was a pile of interview transcripts, and nothing related to recent years. Stitching everything together was an awful experience.”
According to the biographer, although everything was there, it was no Motley Crue’s The Dirt.
“All the big stuff was in there, there just wasn’t anything interesting said about it,” Coleman said.
“There was always this sense in the transcripts that Mick was holding back, or trying not to hurt anybody’s feelings.”
The roaring success of Stones bandmate Keith Richards’ biography, Life, doesn’t seem to have made Jagger any more inclined to pick the project back up again.
“When I actually started to get into it, I just didn’t enjoy reliving my life,” he told BBC Radio 6 Music last year while promoting his pandemic-themed single and collab with Dave Grohl, ‘Eazy Sleazy’.
“So I just said, ‘I can’t be bothered with this,’ and gave the money back. If you want to write an autobiography, you can’t do it in a week. It takes a lot out of you. It takes a lot of reliving emotions, reliving friendships, reliving ups and downs… I just didn’t enjoy the process.”
Lucky for Coleman, Jagger didn’t remember him from his role as a music critic in 1980, when he had panned a Stones show at the Belle Vue in Manchester reviewing it for The Guardian.
“I am quite certain that nothing Mick has said is misleading,” Coleman told the publication recently.
“I just don’t think he knows everything that happened, either!”
For more on this topic, check out the Classic Rock Observer.