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Was Mick Jagger planning to have a sex change in the 1980s?


The media were chasing Mick Jagger even more keenly than usual in the early 1980s, after the story broke that he was about to undergo gender reassignment. Rumours suggested he would become Michelle or Micki Jagger, but that the rest of the Rolling Stones were uneasy about touring with a female vocalist.

The band’s publicist at the time was Keith Altham, who recalled that the tale began with a call from the Daily Express: “This guy asked me if it was true that Mick was having a sex change in California. It was nonsense, but I knew that if I said no, they’d print, ‘It was denied yesterday that Mick Jagger was having a sex change…’ and the story would take off anyway. So I gave him a bit of frivolity and said it was true, and Mick was picking out some fetching frocks for the new tour.”

A tongue-in-cheek piece ran in the Express, but a news agency spread it as gospel in the US, which Jagger was visiting at the time. The singer had no sympathy for the devilish hoax. “I had a phone call from Mick, who was very cross about it,” said Altham. It was probably one of the nails in my coffin: I lost the Stones’ account a year or so after that.”

© 2014 Tony Barrell

Tony Barrell’s new book, The Beatles on the Roof, is out now in the UK. You can read about it here, and buy it here.

For more classic London music stories, see Tony’s new book Rock’n’Roll London.

August 21, 2014

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About the Author

Tony Barrell is a pop historian, journalist, editor and Londoner who has spent much of his life interviewing musicians. He has written many major articles for The Sunday Times and other publications. His 2017 work The Beatles on the Roof is the first book to be published about the Fab Four’s famous 1969 rooftop concert.

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