To his fans, he was a young man focused on sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. But in his mid-20s Mick Jagger had other, rather more sedate, things on his mind, it has been claimed: a pension plan for his retirement.
The Rolling Stones star turned 76 last week and appears to have no plans to hang up his microphone. But when he was young he found the idea that he would still be performing after the age of 60 preposterous, and was keen to prepare his finances for his twilight years, according to the man who was his accountant at the time.
“We started chatting, started talking about pensions. [Mick] said, ‘after all, Laurence, I’m not going to be singing rock’n’roll when I’m 60’,” Laurence Myers, an accountant who set up a music business, told the Observer. “We roared. It was just a ridiculous thought that a young man would be singing rock’n’roll when he was 60. Needless to say, he carried on beyond 60 and he created his own pension.”
Myers recalled that Jagger, who studied at the London School of Economics, had also considered a career in insurance. He was “very bright, and very interested in business” said Myers. “The Rolling Stones became our client for years and, for eight months, had their offices in my offices, which was a very exciting time,” he added.
Jagger, who performed on stage last month for the first time since undergoing heart surgery this year, now has an estimated fortune of £260m.
The Stones will be among stars appearing in a memoir that Myers, now 82, has just finished. Out in October and titled Hunky Dory (Who Knew?), it will offer an insider’s view of the music industry’s golden age, focusing on the 1960s and 1970s. Myers signed the little-known David Bowie when no one else was interested and worked alongside the renowned record producer Mickie Most with the Animals, Donovan, Jeff Beck and Lulu. He masterminded deals, stopped record publishers exploiting songwriters, sorted contracts, and managed the New Seekers and the Tremeloes, among others.
When the Stones first came to him, they were touring in a Transit van. He said: “In those days, you got cheques back with the bank statements … They were only tiny little tours, but [the cheques] were signed by the Rolling Stones. When you did the audit, there was no need to keep the cheques.” He threw them away, joking now about how much they would be worth today. Referring to his book’s title, he said: “Who knew?”
He also recalled signing Bowie and becoming his early manager when the future star was struggling: “Nobody wanted to sign him.”
He described him as a quiet man: “You would have thought he was an insurance clerk. You would not have thought he was a rock star. It was just when he went on stage.”
Myers saw his potential, investing his own money in a Bowie promo disc that led to an RCA deal and albums such as Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust: “We pressed 500 copies of the Bowie promo. One sold recently for $10,000. I threw them away. Who knew?”
Angie Bowie, the star’s first wife, has endorsed the book, saying: “Laurence took a big chance on David when the record business was not interested in him. David was always grateful.”
When Rod Stewart was still up and coming, he would hang around Myers’s office every Friday, waiting to be paid for his latest gig with Jeff Beck.
Myers said: “I was Jeff Beck’s accountant. Rod Stewart was his singer. Each week, Jeff would give me money to pay [his musicians] because it was pay as you earn. Depending on how many gigs, they earned different amounts. Rod would be hanging around the office, sprawling all over. We had a very attractive receptionist. Rod would be there, chatting her up.
“But we were an accountancy office and my partner said, ‘I’ve got this shoe manufacturer coming up, who’s that guy lying around the office?’ I went out and said to Rod, ‘I’m very sorry, but you can’t come here any more. Phone me and I’ll tell you when I’ve got your money ready.’ I threw him out of the office.”
He added that everybody knew Stewart was going to be something special, and they were charmed by him, including the receptionist.