A series of love letters revealing a passionate and clandestine romance between Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and American actress and original Hair cast-member Marsha Hunt (pictured) will go under the hammer next month.
The ten missives written by Jagger to Hunt, the inspiration for "Brown Sugar", during the summer of 1969 while he was filming Ned Kelly in Australia are expected to fetch between £70,000-£100,000 at Sotheby’s English Literature and History sale on 1 December.
London-based model, singer and actress Hunt was a poster girl for the “Black is Beautiful” movement and also the face of ground-breaking West End play Hair.
She had been asked by the Rolling Stones to appear in a photo shoot for “Honky Tonk Woman” but refused in consideration of her position as a role model for black women. “I didn’t want to look like I’d just been had by all the Rolling Stones,” she said.
But Jagger pursued Hunt, appearing at midnight at the door of her Bloomsbury apartment. She wrote 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.”
The letters include references to the first moon landing, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Christopher Isherwood and the Isle of Wight festival. They reveal Jagger’s artistic and intellectual interests, snatches of poetry, surreal flights of fancy and his sexual desires.
Hunt said: “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.”
“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.”
Writing of their relationship, Jagger says: “I feel with you something so unsung there is no need to sing it…”; his describes the Australian outback as the early morning mist “turns red and violent then hard and warm”; he maligns “John & Yoko boring everybody…”’ and thanks Hunt for being “so nice to an evil old man like me”.
Jagger, who was 25 when he wrote the letters to 23-year-old Hunt, includes the full lyrics for “Monkey Man” in one, with three additional lines and a track list of songs with accompanying comments such as “OK” and “dodgy”.
The letters contain veiled references to the death of Brian Jones and Jagger’s increasingly difficult relationship with Faithful, with whom he had been due to co-star in Ned Kelly, but who took an overdose of barbiturates and almost died soon after her arrival in Australia.
The letters, 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) are filled with anxiety about the future of his relationship with Hunt.
Jagger seems to deliberately misspell words and his handwriting declines through the correspondence following an injury to his hand sustained when a prop pistol on Ned Kelly misfired.
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.”
Jagger and Hunt went on to have a child together in 1970.