The ‘Awful’ End of Mick Jagger’s Memoir Project
The author hired as Mick Jagger’s “ghostwriter’s ghostwriter” revealed his “awful” two-week experience of attempting to complete the project in 1983.
Barry Coleman was asked by publishing firm Weidenfeld & Nicolson to deliver a manuscript after the original writer dropped out. But despite his best efforts, Jagger changed his mind over the idea, repaid his more than $1 million advance and shut it down.
Earlier this year, the Rolling Stones singer said he found the process of digging into his past “dull and upsetting.” In a new interview with The Guardian, Coleman said there was more to it than that. “The story I was told was that [the first writer had] gone to a lot of celebrity parties and met people like Michael Jackson, and then lost the plot," he said. "I don’t know if that was the pressure of the book. ... We had one conversation, then he stopped returning my calls. Then the publishers told me that they now had a deal for the U.S. market, but they needed the finished book within two weeks or the deal was off.”
Coleman recalled that "two chapters were more or less presentable. The rest was a pile of interview transcripts, and nothing related to recent years. Stitching everything together was an awful experience. All the big stuff was in there, there just wasn’t anything interesting said about it. There was always this sense in the transcripts that Mick was holding back, or trying not to hurt anybody’s feelings.”
The writer said Jagger didn't blame him when he pulled the plug. “We’d talked a lot about whether he still wanted to go ahead or whether we could do it again but differently,” Coleman recalled. “He just didn’t want to do it. I think he respected his audience by not giving them something ordinary about an extraordinary life. … In a way, it tells you more about Mick than anything that could have come out in a mediocre book. It needed Mick to be able to talk to someone like he might a therapist, approach his life from a tangent. Instead we ended up with something that was too pedestrian for Mick Jagger.”
While rumors have circulated about a manuscript in existence and a number of leaked pages, Coleman said he didn’t recognize the descriptions he’d heard of the contents. He speculated that it might well exist, but it had been rewritten again by “a ghostwriter’s ghostwriter’s ghostwriter.”