Sotheby's to offer ten secret love letters from Mick Jagger to Marsha Hunt from the summer of 1969

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Sotheby's to offer ten secret love letters from Mick Jagger to Marsha Hunt from the summer of 1969
A letter addressed to American-born singer Marsha Hunt. Handwritten letters from Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger to his former lover Marsha Hunt will be auctioned in London next month. Hunt is a singer who was the inspiration for the Stones' 1971 hit "Brown Sugar" and bore Jagger's first child. The auction house said Saturday Nov. 10, 2012 that the collection, which includes song lyrics and a Rolling Stones playlist, is expected to fetch between 70,000 and 100,000 pounds ($111,300 and $159,000) and will go under the hammer on December 12. AP Photo/Sotheby's.

LONDON.- On 12th December 2012 Sotheby’s London will offer a remarkable series of passionate and articulate love letters written by Mick Jagger to his lover, the beautiful black American singer (and inspiration for Brown Sugar) Marsha Hunt, during the summer of 1969. The letters were written while Jagger, the frontman of the world’s most successful rock band was in Australia filming the movie Ned Kelly and their relationship was a closely guarded secret. Jagger was at the height of his creative powers and the symbol of rebellious youth: Hunt was the image of “Black is Beautiful” and the face of the landmark West End production of Hair. Beguilingly lyrical and displaying a wide range of cultural interests, Jagger’s letters, written at a time of great personal and professional turmoil, shed new light on the rock legend. Estimated to realise £70,000-100,000, the collection, which includes song lyrics and a Rolling Stones playlist, will be the centrepiece of Sotheby’s English Literature & History sale.

Marsha Hunt commented: ‚When a serious historian finally examines how and why Britain’s boy bands affected international culture and politics, this well-preserved collection of Mick Jagger’s hand written letters will be a revelation. Written during the summer of ‘69 from a Tony Richardson filmset in the Australian outback, they touch upon the first moon landing, John and Yoko, Christopher Isherwood and the Isle of Wight Festival. They’re addressed to me. I was 23, American born, Berkeley educated, and London-based. Despite his high profile and my own as a singer, actress, Vogue model and star of London’s original Hair cast, our delicate love affair remains as much part of his secret history as his concerns over the death of Brian Jones and the suicide attempt of his girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull. ‚

Dr Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s Books Specialist said: ‚These beautifully written and lyrical letters from the heart of the cultural and social revolution of 1969, frame a vivid moment in cultural history. Here we see Mick Jagger, not as the global superstar he has become, but as a poetic and self-aware 25-year-old, with wideranging intellectual and artistic interests. Written from a film set in the Australian Outback in that momentous year for The ‘Stones, just after their landmark Hyde Park concert and before the tragic events of Altamont, we are afforded an insight into how one of the central actors in the momentous cultural events of the time saw the world as it changed around him. They provide a rare glimpse of Jagger that is very different from his public persona: passionate but self-contained, lyrical but with a strong sense of irony.‛

In Spring 1969 Marsha Hunt was approached by The Rolling Stones’ office and invited to appear scantily dressed in a photo shoot for their forthcoming single Honky Tonk Women. Conscious of her position as a role model for young black women, Hunt refused: “I didn’t want to look like I’d just been had by all the Rolling Stones,” she recalls. After unsuccessfully attempting to persuade her to reconsider over the telephone, Mick Jagger appeared at midnight at the door of her Bloomsbury apartment. As she recalled in her 1986 memoir Real Life, he stood, “framed by the doorway as he stood grinning with a dark coat …He drew one hand out of his pocket and pointed it at me like a pistol …Bang.” It was the start of a passionate and initially clandestine affair, at a time when interracial relationships were charged to a degree that is difficult to imagine today. Their relationship was a potent symbol of a new sexual and racial order. In 1970, Hunt became the mother of Mick Jagger’s first child.

The letters, sent while Jagger was on location in Australia, are written on a range of headed stationery (from Chevron Hotel, Sydney; JHA Sykes, Palerand, Bungendore, New South Wales and Woodfall Limited, Bondi Junction, New South Wales). One was composed on 20th July 1969, the day of the Moon Landing and dated: “Sunday the Moon”. References to poetry, responses to the unfamiliar landscape, anxiety about the future of his relationship with Hunt co-exist with the familiar Jagger swagger of deliberately mis-spelt words, surreal flights of fancy, and raw sexual desire. In one memorable passage Jagger writes of lying in a bed "with a lyre at the head" in a converted hayloft, thinking of her whilst listening to the alien sounds of the outback in the heart of a forest of strange trees.

The correspondence encompasses a wide-range of subject matter, including:

• The couple’s relationship: “… I feel with you something so unsung there is no need to sing it…”

• His impressions of the Australian outback: the early morning mist "…turns red and violent then hard and warm…"

• His wide-ranging cultural interests (sometimes inspired by books Marsha had sent him): “...I toy through Nijinksy’s diaries…”

• Contemporary pop culture: “…John & Yoko boring everybody…”

• His reputation. He thanks her for being “…so nice to an evil old man like me”.

• A party where the girls are “so plain” all he can do is “….eat chocolate eclairs”.

• Christopher Isherwood’s screenplay of I Claudius: “…I hope I get the part of Caligula…”

One letter incorporates the full lyrics for the song Monkey Man, rewritten with three additional lines. The collection also includes a track list in Jagger’s hand listing nine Rolling Stones songs with brief comments (“OK”, “dodgy”, etc).

The letters contain oblique references to the death of Brian Jones and Jagger’s increasingly difficult relationship with Marianne Faithfull (with whom he was due to star in Ned Kelly, but almost immediately on arrival in Australia, Faithfull took an overdose of barbiturates and almost died). The on-set experience was not a positive one. Jagger’s hand was badly burnt when a prop pistol misfired in his hand and the injury is apparent in the shifts in his handwriting. The letters reveal his ultimate disillusionment with the business of movie-making.

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