Mick Jagger's 1971 wedding was 'skin-crawlingly embarrassing'
The year 1971 had already been a hectic one for the Rolling Stones. In March, at lead singer Mick Jagger’s urging, they became the first rock band to declare themselves tax exiles from the UK, relocating to France in order to escape England’s high tax rates on the wealthy.
With the band scattering throughout France on April 1, the beginning of the British tax year, the French-speaking Jagger landed in Biot, a “picturesque hilltop town.” It was a sensible move for him because his girlfriend, Bianca Perez-Mora Macias, lived in Paris, and the couple were to be married in May.
The high-class wedding, writes journalist David Hepworth, “marked the establishment of rock and roll as a viable branch of high society.”
Jagger chartered a plane to fly 75 friends who only learned of the wedding the day before, including Paul McCartney and his family, Ringo Starr, Peter Frampton and Ronnie Wood (who wouldn’t join the Stones for another four years), from the UK to Saint-Tropez.
As McCartney and Starr were embroiled in a harsh legal battle, they were seated far apart.
Jagger and his beloved faced their first major obstacle the morning of the wedding, when Bianca discovered that according to French law, the couple had to make clear “what property they held in common.”
It was only then that she learned “how little this was” and “threatened to call it off, facing Jagger with the prospect of the most humiliating reversal in front of his peers. She eventually relented.”
Obstacle number two also came courtesy of French law, which declared that before the church ceremony — which Jagger had choreographed with the pastor — there had to be a civil ceremony at the town hall, which was open to the public.
Jagger had been hoping to keep the paparazzi at bay, but even the town’s mayor couldn’t override the law or refuse entry to the hundreds of photographers who had flown in with no idea of their good fortune. “When the bride and groom eventually arrived, late and already perspiring, pushing their way as best they could through the crowds of pressmen, holiday makers and rubberneckers,” Hepworth writes, “they appeared harassed and faintly shocked.”
As camera flashes just feet away from the couple dominated the ceremony, Jagger’s parents, “for whom he was always ‘Mike,’ stood in the middle of this mayhem, looking unsurprisingly like people who were watching their son disappear into a mad new world. Their place at their son’s right-hand side had been usurped by Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegun. He was the daddy now.”
Once the ceremony moved to the church, the Stones’ public-relations person, Les Perrin, who found himself responsible for this madness, had the priest lock the church doors. This led to the unfortunate instance of Jagger having to bang on the door like a commoner for entrance, in full view of the photographers.
At the reception, stars like Julie Christie and Brigitte Bardot danced the Frug to the sounds of an all-star jam that included Stephen Stills, Terry Reid, and members of Santana, to name a few. Keith Richards would have joined, but he was “passed out flat on his back with his mouth open.” (One attendee would later swear to the author that Richards wore a Nazi uniform to the ceremony.)
Meanwhile, Jagger’s ex, Marianne Faithfull, celebrated the marriage in her own special way — by “sleeping off the effects of a shot of Valium and three vodka martinis” she took “to deal with the fact that Mick was marrying someone else,” in a cell at the police station in the Paddington Green section of London. Years later, in her memoir, she noted the physical resemblance between Bianca and Mick, calling it narcissism and writing, “Mick married himself.”