Reluctant pin-up: Marianne Faithfull reveals how she was damaged by her early brush with fame

Rachel Shields
Sunday 23 October 2011 05:20

She was the Sixties pin-up whose beauty bewitched Mick Jagger and inspired some of the Rolling Stones' most famous songs, but Marianne Faithfull has revealed that she hates the way she looks, can't bear to see photographs of herself and is still dealing with the damaging effects of being catapulted to fame at a young age.

The British singer-songwriter, as famous for her relationship with Jagger and her lengthy battle with drug addiction as for her performing career, also warned that young women in the public gaze risk becoming "addicted" to fame.

"When you are 18, 19, 20, you're used to being photographed all the time, in a certain way," she said. "So, the narcissism becomes almost out of control. And the way that young women are photographed, they become addicted to this feedback of the image. I'm still dealing with it."

Although she has been snapped by internationally renowned photographers including David Bailey and Annie Leibovitz, Faithfull admits that she hates pictures of herself. "I never like photos of myself in the beginning. I live with them for three months, put them in a drawer, take them out and look again. I hate the way I look, but of course it's really not that bad."

The singer, whose music career has spanned four decades, made a successful comeback in 1979 with her album Broken English after drug addiction left her living on the streets. She has just completed a month-long tour of the US with her latest album Easy Come, Easy Go, a collection of covers of popular songs by artists including Billie Holiday and Morrissey.

Faithfull, whose doe-eyed looks won her a legion of fans, also revealed in an interview with the film director Mike Figgis that she was unhappy with the famously risqué photos for which she posed in 1964.

"What Terry O'Neill did was dress me up – he was trying to make a sexy picture. I was in stockings and suspenders, and of course I looked absolutely beautiful, but I looked wrong. That overt sexuality is just so not me. It's like I 'smashed' my image from virginal schoolgirl to the opposite."

Unlike other famous beauties of her generation, Faithfull is adamant that photos of her should reflect what she actually looks like.

"I'm so much older. I've stopped caring about beauty, but I still care about truth," she said. "I'd love to play a musician in a film. I always want to bring my image and my real self together, and I haven't done that yet."

A full version of this interview appears in the book Destroy/Rankin, to which 70 leading musicians have contributed, which will be published by the charity Youth Music as part of its 10th birthday campaign. To buy the book, go to

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