You’ll remember we left blog One of my life with the Rolling Stones (read here if you ish:) http://www.jaylengrace.com/854/ with me in Keith Richards country house, and his partner staring up at me as she enquired whether I’d like a cup of Earl Grey.
Her name was Anita Pallenberg….Keith was always my favourite Stone – although if I bumped into him in the street I doubt he’d know me from Adam. Even that day as I walked around his house marking items he wanted to take to France (where he’d become a tax exile and where the Stones would write Exile on Main Street) he asked me who I was. Only the week before we’d had a long discussion about Howling Wolf in the office – but those were heady times. Hard drugs were the norm. Enough said.
What I haven’t yet disclosed; which played a major role in why I switched from the zizz and glamour of Rock N’ Roll to embrace a holistic/spiritual path a few years later, was partly due to a profound experience I had when I was 16. I won’t go into details because there’s still too much to share about my time in the music business. However, basically I was involved in a horrific car accident and pronounced dead. I clearly remember seeing my friends crowded around the bloody mess of my remains. They were crying because my heart had stopped beating. I was looking down on myself and saying words to the effect ‘I’m too young to die. I insist on being brought back to life!’
How I got back into my body is a heavenly mystery, but three minutes later I started breathing again. The only reason I mention it now is because it brings back a memory of Keith’s son (Marlon) who was about two. After my ‘death’ experience,
I took up daily meditation. The morning after I stayed over at Keith’s place I was meditating in the garden when Marlon came running out and plonked himself on my lap. I turned my meditation into one he could join in with – a study of insects and their enthusiastic single-minded determination. When Marlon began collecting ants and joyfully munching them, I felt it only proper to report this back to Keith. Laughing his head off, Keith dismissed it with: ‘If he likes eating ants, let him get on with it!’
Five months into my six month PA position with the Stones, Thomas from Mykonos – the guy I’d fallen passionately in love with – With the intense brown eyes, sparkly white teeth who danced like a Greek God - turned up in London. He’d booked a hotel in Bayswater for the weekend to surprise me. As I rushed from the office to fly into his arms (wearing my white silk floor length Ossie Clark wrap dress), Mick (Jagger) called to ask if I wanted to stay on and help with the running of their new record label, Rolling Stones Records.
Rolling Stones Records fell under the Atlantic label. Atlantic was part of the most famous record conglomerate of that time which was known as WEA (Warner, Electra, Atlantic) –To give you a taste of just a few of the artists on those labels in 1971, think… Aretha Franklyn, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Neil Young, James Taylor, Van Morrison – and, and and…
Even though 75% of me was still living the dream of being Thomas’s wife, the offer of working among such amazing music icons hung there like Eve’s apple, tempting me to bite into it. I think you can guess what happened when I saw Thomas again. The illusion I’d built up around us crumbled. He was shorter than I remembered, the bright yellow shirt that looked stunning when he’d worn it in Mykonos looked cringeworthy in London, the fact he couldn’t speak English irked – and the vision of me scrubbing clothes clean with a washing board, suddenly held the appeal of a bucket of scummy water.
Troubled and confused, I told Thomas of the promotion and asked his advice.
‘We made a deal,’ he said. ‘You either come to Greece next month to marry me or it’s over.’
Every time we made love I was thrown into turmoil. Would I ever feel again what I felt in Thomas’s arms? Would I ever feel what I felt when he kissed me, and his eyes locked into my soul? I remember we both cried a lot. I remember the pain of saying goodbye because intuitively we both knew what my decision would be.
Six weeks later I was installed in my new office in New Oxford Street. On the very first day I was out on the terrace having a ciggy break when Alice Cooper came out weighed down by gold chains and his trademark black-kohl clown’s eyes to join me for a chat. Any artist who came over from the USA stopped by the Stones office even when the Stones weren’t there. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Robert Plant or James Taylor became as normal as talking to the local milkman.
However, the most thrilling thing for me turned out to be a guy (who unbeknown to me), sometimes stayed in a restaurant on the corner of our street. I used to run in occasionally to grab a take away and chat merrily to the Greek owner. On one such day, Cat Stevens came out of the kitchen. My eyes blinked in disbelief. What was HE doing there???? Cat was my BIG music crush. I knew every word of his songs. I was besotted by him. ‘This is my son Steve,’ the owner said to me. ‘And this is Stella,’ he said to Cat. ‘She works for the Stones in WEA. You should be friends. She’s Greek. Why we don’t invite her to eat with us?’ My heart did twelve somersaults. I held my breath. Cat smiled politely but said nothing….and there that story ends…
However little did I know that soon I’d fall head over heels in love with the world’s sexiest tenor saxophone player, find myself on a crazy tour with Black Sabbath (and vomited on by Ozzy Osbourne), or change my style from designer clothes to embroidered skirts and wear flowers in my head. This was ‘Flower Power’ time (rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnamese war), and proved a decade like no other in ways I could never have predicted
To be continued…