What All Of Mick Jagger's Former Bandmates Have Said About Him

The music world would simply not be the same without the contributions of the past half-century from rock god Mick Jagger. As the lead singer of the Rolling Stones, he has been a massive trendsetter not just for rock but for talented performers in the arts throughout the world. His amazing band has had plenty to do with that global sway, but Jagger's unique skills and swagger have played a major role.

Only a few fortunate music artists have had the opportunity to collaborate with the legendary frontman, in the Stones and separately. Those partnerships have earned rather mixed reviews. Most of his collaborators have been ecstatic about their work with Jagger, but he has also managed to rub some of them the wrong way, and more than one have decided to never work with him again.

Many of his bandmates and freelance partners over the decades have talked about the experience of teaming up with the singer. Here's what they've had to say about it.

Keith Richards

Not to demean long-standing and pivotal members of the Rolling Stones like Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, but when the Stones are the topic, guitarist Keith Richards and Mick Jagger come to mind first for most people. The duo's working partnership has been the source of some of the greatest rock music of all time. On the other hand, Richards and Jagger have had plenty of arguments over the decades, and the guitarist has been very open about them. He once told Men's Journal, "I've always found working with Mick is like a joy, it's a real pleasure. It's outside of the realm of work is where we tend to disagree."

Richards has also heavily criticized Jagger on several occasions, specifically for being self-absorbed, for altering his personality on behalf of popularity, and, maybe worst of all, for diverting attention from the Stones with his solo career. In his autobiography, "Life," Richards' descriptions of his bandmate's strange behavior included his assessment that "what somebody else was doing was far more interesting to him than what he was doing. He even began to act as if he wanted to be someone else." He added bluntly, "Why would you want to be anything else if you're Mick Jagger?"

The two spent so much time together that eventually the tensions beyond their music-making became too great, leading them into an almost strictly professional relationship. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Richards offered an especially sad remark: "I haven't gone to his dressing room in, I don't think, 20 years. Sometimes I miss my friend."

Ronnie Wood

When Ronnie Wood has commented publicly about Mick Jagger in the past, he's often spoken highly about the lead singer he has performed with for many years. In an interview with the German magazine Focus, Wood noted, "People often get the wrong impression of Mick. The clever businessman is just one side of Mick. The other side is the same as the rest of us, a true rocker! When dining with Mick the other night, he discussed each song of our new album, with the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old guy" (via iorr.org).

More recently, Wood pointed out how impressed he has been with his bandmate's health, even as he nears his 80th birthday. In 2019, the frontman underwent heart surgery, a procedure that barely seemed to faze him. Afterward, Wood told The Sun, "He's just so fit, he sets aside three hours a day to do exercise, and that's done him plenty of favors in later life. He's superhuman, really."

Charlie Watts

Aside from Keith Richards, the Rolling Stone who has shared the stage with Mick Jagger the most is drummer Charlie Watts. He has often expressed his fascination about the relationship between the bandmates. In the book "The Rolling Stones: A Life on the Road," Watts explained, "There's a magic about them that people like. They always argue, but they always love each other. They know each other so well." He also described a key difference between Jagger and Richards: "They're two totally different people. One is meticulous and detailed, and the other is a complete bohemian. But they both have a direction for themselves, and they can both see whatever it is."

Yet over the years, Watts has picked up on much more than the music Jagger has created with the band. The book "The Rolling Stones: Fifty Years" features some less-positive observations from the drummer, such as: "You'd imagine Mick would be the happiest guy in the world, and yet a lot of the time he isn't."

Bill Wyman

Bassist Bill Wyman was a crucial element in the Rolling Stones' sound for decades, but in the years since his departure in 1992, he has revealed why he didn't regret his decision to leave. In an interview with Classic Rock, Wyman talked about Jagger's upsetting behavior at the time: "Instead of being nice and saying: 'Great 30 years. Cheers, mate,' Mick would say the most absurd, stupid things, with that spoilt attitude he had. He'd say things like: 'Oh well, if anybody has to play bass, I'll do it. It can't be that hard.'"

Beyond poor treatment from Jagger, Wyman was also critical of how the singer could pretend to be someone he wasn't. The frontman and Keith Richards were originally from the town of Dartford, Wyman noted: "They weren't Londoners, though Mick always tries on his cockney accent, which he doesn't deserve, really." He added that the late Brian Jones deserved much more credit as the prime creator of the Stones, noting that without him, Jagger and Richards would have gone in very different directions.

Mick Taylor

Like Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor had a rocky relationship with Mick Jagger, during their days together in the Rolling Stones and after the guitarist left the band in 1974. "We used to fight and argue all the time," Taylor revealed to Mojo Magazie in 1997 (via "50 Licks: Myths and Stories from Half a Century of the Rolling Stones"). "And one of the things I got angry about was that Mick had promised to give me some credit for some of the songs — and he didn't. I believed I'd contributed enough. Let's put it this way — without any contribution those songs would not have existed." 

For the TV special "On the Road with Mick Taylor," the guitarist pointed out how his personality was perceived differently just because he shared the stage with the famous frontman. Many fans had assumed Taylor was quiet and reserved, but that wasn't the case, he clarified: "Anybody that's on the same stage with Mick Jagger is gonna look a little bit shy."

David Bowie

David Bowie and Mick Jagger were friends for a long time, and they also shared stages together. Most notably, the two legends performed the duet "Dancing in the Street" for Live Aid in 1985 (per AllMusic). But regardless of their close relationship, Jagger learned the hard way that he had to be careful around Bowie in areas of creative teamwork.

The late singer-songwriter unashamedly admitted that he would take ideas he liked and give them his own personal twist — he even labeled himself a "tasteful thief." Jagger was not happy with that behavior, as Bowie explained in an interview with Playboy, via The Uncool: "Mick Jagger, for example, is scared to walk into the same room as me even thinking any new idea. He knows I'll snatch it." One of the first times that happened was when Jagger showed Bowie artwork by artist Guy Peellaert intended for the cover of a Rolling Stones album. Before the Stones album was released, Bowie hired Peellaert to design the album cover of his LP "Diamond Dogs."

"Mick was silly," Bowie said. "I mean, he should never have shown me anything new," adding, "Mick's learned now, as I've said. He will never do that again. You've got to be a bastard in this business."

Pete Townshend

Over the years, guitarist Pete Townshend of the Who formed a solid professional relationship with Mick Jagger and had the pleasure of working with the fellow star several times since the 1960s. According to AllMusic, two of their most significant collaborations were Townshend's appearances on Jagger's first solo album, "She's the Boss" (1985), and on his fourth, "Goddess in the Doorway" (2001). But it turned out that Townshend clearly would have been open to more than just collaborating musically with the Stones frontman.

In a revealing segment from his acclaimed 2013 book, "Who I Am: A Memoir," Townshend admitted, "Although Mick was a friend, I was concerned by the thought that Kit might be collaborating with our most serious competition. I was also suspicious he was having a sexual dalliance with Mick and felt a little jealous. Mick is the only man I've ever seriously wanted to f***."

Jeff Beck

For years, guitarist Jeff Beck aspired to perform with the Rolling Stones. So he was quite happy to be asked whether he wanted to work with Jagger on his first solo album, "She's the Boss." Beck thoroughly enjoyed the experience and collaborated with the singer again, on Jagger's follow-up, "Primitive Cool," in 1987 (per AllMusic).

But long before the two teamed up, and even before Beck was aware of who the Stones were, he experienced confusing moments in public because of Jagger. The guitarist explained to Classic Rock, "I used to get mistaken for him all the time in '61. I used to have girls screaming at me and I didn't know what the f*** they were screaming about. I'd pull up along somebody in a car and they'd go: 'Mick!' And I'd be thinking: 'Who the f*** is this Mick?' Then I realized it was this guy in the Rolling Stones called Mick Jagger."

Tina Turner

Tina Turner is another renowned artist outside the Rolling Stones who's had a close relationship with Mick Jagger. The two go so far back that Turner claimed to have helped him perfect one of his most trademark skills. "Mick wanted to dance — and I was a dancer — but he never gave me the credit!" Turner revealed to the Daily Mail. "He said his mother taught him how to dance. But we worked with him in the dressing room, me and the girls, and we taught him how to Pony [a '60s dance move]."

Turner and Jagger famously performed two songs together at Live Aid in 1985, when they also shared a controversial moment onstage: He ripped her skirt off. Jagger was later criticized for the risqué act, but it didn't seem to affect their friendship — nor was it a sign of a more intimate relationship. According to the diva, Jagger and David Bowie were "like the brothers that I never had." Turner added, "We never slept together; and they never came on to me, because I think they saw me as a role model in some kind of way."

Carly Simon

In 1973, Mick Jagger explored a collaboration with an artist that maybe went a little too well, and it had the potential to end more than one relationship. When Carly Simon recorded her hit "You're So Vain," with Jagger providing backup vocals, it was not clear if the song was about her fiancé, James Taylor, or actor Warren Beatty, or Jagger himself, per AllMusic. But even if Simon did not have the Stones frontman in mind when she wrote the song, she did admit that there was a lot of sexual tension between the two as they worked together. In her book "Boys in the Trees," she revealed, "If Mick could have his way, it would be Romeo and Juliet tragic. We couldn't have each other."

The chemistry was apparent enough that Jagger's new wife, Bianca, was convinced he was cheating on her, though Simon and Jagger reportedly never acted upon their mutual attraction. But Bianca was clearly so upset that she called Taylor the night before his wedding to Simon. "She told James that he shouldn't marry me because her husband and I were having an affair," the singer recalled. "She muttered some things I couldn't believe she was saying. Then James said, 'I'm sure that's not true. Carly has told me about it and it's not what you think. I trust my wife-to-be. I trust Carly.'"

Lenny Kravtiz

Rock star Lenny Kravitz worked with Mick Jagger on the singer's solo album "Goddess in the Doorway." When asked on "The Howard Stern Show" what it was like to collaborate with Jagger, the musician replied, "I love him, we're good friends, we've worked together. But when you're in that moment and he's in the studio and you press 'record,' I just sit there and go, 'My God, it sounds like Mick Jagger.' It's Mick Jagger just coming out of Mick Jagger, and it's pretty incredible."

At his home studio in Miami, Kravitz began working on the music for "God Gave Me Everything," a song on that album. Jagger arrived to help write the lyrics. To Kravitz, most impressive of all was that after Jagger heard the music Kravitz had produced, the singer left the room, and 45 minutes later he returned with the lyrics he'd written. The duo was ready to start recording.

Dave Stewart

Mick Jagger's work with top talent in the music industry isn't all business. A prime example is the star's regular partnerships with Dave Stewart, formerly of Eurythmics. "There was a time a while back when I moved to Paris, and Mick and I became friends in Paris," Stewart told Cinema.com. "We were always down the studio messing about and we would just write songs for fun, and we've been writing songs for fun ever since, really, in various places."

The duo has teamed up for several projects over the years, such as composing the soundtrack for the 2004 film "Alfie." But more significantly, Stewart and Jagger formed the band Super Heavy in 2011, along with Joss Stone, Damian Marley, and others (per Rolling Stone). The goal of the new group was to experiment and create something truly unique, a fusion of genres ranging from reggae to the sounds of the Indian subcontinent.


Mick Jagger finally teamed up with legendary singer Bono for the solo LP "Goddess in the Doorway." On the 2001 release, the pair collaborated on the song "Joy," along with guitarist Pete Townshend, to create a fusion sound that is unmistakably Jagger's while reminiscent of Bono's band U2 (per Rolling Stone).

Following the team-up, Bono had nothing but kind words about the singer. He complimented Jagger's impressive looks for a man in his 70s — and his business skills. "People despise Mick because they think he only thinks about money, but he is a businessman above all else," Bono told a German newspaper. "The fact is, he understands the business. Why? Because the Stones lost a lot of money in the beginning. I have to kneel in reverence to what he has achieved. What I like about him as a person is that he always speaks his mind openly and he never talks much about himself. He is not a narcissistic person" (via the Mirror).

Michael Jackson

After Michael Jackson wrote the song "State of Shock," he reached out to Mick Jagger for what he thought could be the perfect partnership for recording the duet. The first sign that the collaboration might not go smoothly was Jagger's hesitance, but Jackson was able to talk him into the collaboration. It helped that the Stones frontman was already looking to branch out on his own, so this project became another good opportunity in that direction. The two released their single in 1984 (per BBC America).

The song turned out to be a hit, reaching No. 3 on the charts. But despite the success, the experience was not a happy one for either artist. According to Christopher Andersen in his book "Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger," Jackson had harsh criticism for the rocker afterward: "How did he ever get to be a star?" Likewise, Jagger thought little of the King of Pop, calling him "very lightweight — like froth on a beer."