Johann Sebastian Jagger - the classical inspiration behind the Rolling Stones

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The Independent Culture

The Who may have dabbled in rock opera and Paul McCartney collaborated with a philharmonic orchestra, but the Rolling Stones have always been reluctant to allow classical strains to intrude on their raunchy brand of rock 'n'roll.

But now it can be revealed that their frontman may have been turning his back on a classical heritage so rich that, in an unwittingly merger of legendary musical monickers, one of his forebears was named Johann Sebastian Jagger.

The tribute to the 18th century German composer was found by genealogists researching the Jagger family tree. They found that Charles Jagger, an ancestor of the Dartford-born rock aristocrat, was a professor of music and a classical composer of such renown that he was commissioned to write the wedding score for the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Such was his enthusiasm for Bach, he named one of his sons Johann Sebastian. The father of four children, Charles Jagger practised his art in Thoralby, Yorkshire, where he was also organist at the Aysgarth Parish Church. He then moved to Whitehaven in the late 1880s, playing at the town's Theatre Royal and teaching piano and organ.

The existence of the Stones' frontman's musical heritage emerged as a Cumbrian historian began researching the life of Charles' cousin, David Jagger, the great grandfather of Sir Mick. David and Hilary Wilson spotted the name on a headstone in a Whitehaven cemetery while they were paying respect to late relatives.

They found that David, a printer from Morley, Yorkshire, married three times, the third of which, in 1879, produced David Ernest, Sir Mick's grandfather.

Since they formed more than four decades ago, the Stones have embraced rock 'n' roll, electric blues and country music. Possible exceptions are "You Can't Always Get What You Want", on the album Let it Bleed, featuring the London Bach boys' choir and the violin accompaniment to "Moonlight Mile" on the 1971 album Sticky Fingers.

"To their honour they have never bothered with it. They know what they are good at and they stick to it" said rock critic Andy Gill.

Genealogists have also linked Sir Mick with Joseph Hobson Jagger, who died in 1892, a distant cousin who was apparently the inspiration for the song and film The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. He was convinced that roulette wheels were biased. In 1875 he backed his judgement at the Beaux-Arts Casino, winning £200,000.

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