Mick Jagger turns 70 today, and I think we can safely say at this point that he’s going to stick with this rock star thing. But if at some point in his youth he had decided on a different career, he might have gone with “post-drug bust interview subject” (or civil libertarian activist). It’s a skill he practiced often. Take the clip above, filmed after the legendary 1967 Stones’ drug bust after a News of the World article exposed the band’s recreational use, along with that of the Moody Blues and The Who. The bust, it turns out, was an L.A. Confidential-style frame-up between the tabloid and the police, and included the collaboration of a dealer known appropriately as “Acid King,” real name David Schneiderman. According to Simon Wells’ exhaustive Butterfly on a Wheel: The Great Rolling Stones Drug Bust, Schneiderman “remains probably the most enigmatic figure in rock and roll folklore” and claimed to work for the CIA, MI5, and other secret agencies (turns out this may have been true).
So the Stones were set up, which doesn’t mean they weren’t also really high (hear Wells tell the story in detail in an author interview above). But they took it in stride, using the publicity to substantiate their image as rock and roll’s bad boys and sending the suave, voluble Jagger out on press jags, like the very strange panel interview with the show World in Action, from which the above excerpt comes, where Mick sits down with a couple chaplains and a couple suits and defends the rights of the individual. Jagger proves himself a very able spokesman for his generation—intelligent, poised, and yes, ridiculously handsome. He not only stood up to defend himself in interviews throughout the Stones’ turbulent drug-fueled heydays, but he stood by his man Keith as well. Check him out below fielding press questions with aplomb for a slightly addled Richards after one of Keith’s drug trials.