Anita Pallenberg: 'Original rock chick' dies aged 73

Pallenberg was said to have had a ‘profound’ impact on the Rolling Stones 

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 14 June 2017 12:04
Model, actor, mother, muse: Pallenberg played many roles in her epochal career
Model, actor, mother, muse: Pallenberg played many roles in her epochal career

Anita Pallenberg, the actor and model who was also a muse to the Rolling Stones, has died aged 73.

She is perhaps best known for her tumultuous relationship with Stones guitarist Keith Richards, with whom she had three children.

A spokesman for Richards said: “Anita Pallenberg passed away peacefully at St Richard's Hospital, Chichester yesterday 13 June with her family by her side. She was 73 years old and had been ill for some time.”

The cause of death is currently unknown, but it was first announced on Instagram by her friend and actor Stella Schnabel, who said she “never met a woman quite like her”.

“Go in peace my Roman mother,” she wrote. Schnabel has since made her social media account private.

Pallenberg – dubbed ‘the original rock chick’ by The Independent – was born in German-occupied Rome in 1944, to German and Italian parents.

She began her career as a model aged 16, becoming one of the era’s best known ‘It Girls’ after she became associated with Andy Warhol’s iconic studio “Factory” in the 1960s.

Pallenberg met Brian Jones, guitarist and original founder of the Rolling Stones, in 1965. A relationship developed, which she claimed quickly turned violent.

She left him two years later for fellow Stones member Keith Richards. The pair began a relationship which was to last from 1967 until 1980, and was characterised by a very public battle with drugs.

The couple had two sons, Marlon and Tara Jo Jo, and a daughter named Angela. Tragically, Tara Jo Jo died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1976, and in 1980 the couple separated.

She was also rumoured to have had an affair with Stones lead vocalist Mick Jagger, while they were shooting the 1970 British crime drama film Performance together – although she always denied it.

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Pallenberg was rumoured to have had an affiar with Jagger (left) after separating from longterm partner Richards (right) 

The band’s one-time PA Jo Bergman said that Pallenberg had a “profound” influence on the band.

She sang backing vocals on their iconic track “Sympathy for the Devil”, and Jagger is said to have remixed tracks on their 1968 record Beggars Banquet based on her feedback.


“She almost single-handedly engineered a cultural revolution in London by bringing together the Stones and the jeunesse dorée,” wrote actor and songwriter Marianne Faithfull in her autobiography.

​“The Stones came away with a patina of aristocratic decadence that served as a perfect counterfoil to the raw roots blues of their music.This…transformed the Stones from pop stars into cultural icons.”

Faithfull also had a highly publicised romantic relationship with a Stones member – Jagger – and became Pallenberg’s best friend, appearing with her on the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.

Faithfull also posted a touching tribute on her official Facebook page:

She writes: “Anita used to say that we (the two of us) are light years ahead of the Rolling Stones. Witty and probably true!

“I will miss Anita so much; 52 years! I really loved her. We had good times and bad times, but I only remember the good times now. She taught me so much, especially after we got clean; it was very good, and so much fun!

“Farewell my love, go well.”

In his autobiography, Richards described Pallenberg as a “very strong” woman, who was “extremely bright” and “a great beauty”.

Today he paid tribute to his former lover and mother of his children, saying: “A most remarkable woman. Always in my heart.”

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