'Stupid' Mick Jagger talks drugs in Cannes
Rocker Mick Jagger played to the crowd at the Cannes movie festival Wednesday, launching a film about the drug-fuelled sessions that yielded the Rolling Stones' classic album "Exile on Main Street".
He joked about the band's antics in a French villa in 1971 -- shown in rarely-seen original footage in the film, which reveals that they had an eight-year-old boy roll marijuana joints for them.
"We were young, good-looking and stupid," he told the audience after strutting on stage in a grey suit and shiny silver sports shoes at the screening of film-maker Stephen Kijak's documentary "Stones in Exile".
"Now we're just stupid," he added, to laughs from a packed theatre.
The nostalgic film tells how the Stones went into exile from Britain to escape the tax man and set up a studio in the basement of guitarist Keith Richards' villa in Villefranche-Sur-Mer on the French Riviera.
"Nixon was in the White House, the Vietnam war was going on and Eddy Merckx had won the Tour de France," Jagger said, speaking in French and English.
"We didn't know anything about it, because we were stuck in a villa in Villefranche making a record."
After six months of whisky, cocaine and night-long jamming sessions, they emerged and headed for California to put the finishing touches to the album.
It was slammed by critics at first but is now considered one of the best they made. The Stones re-released the record this month and it was heading towards to the top of the British charts this week.
"I thought it would be a good idea to do a film about it," said Jagger, who hired Kijak to scour the band's archives and put the movie together, overlaying footage of sessions and concerts with album tracks such as "Tumbling Dice".
"To just do a record isn't enough -- you need to see something of the period," added Jagger, who appears on the film joking about the nostalgic way it aims to revive interest in the album.
Richards' partner Anita Pallenberg is heard in the film describing how the house degenerated as the drugs took hold and the guitarist started taking heroin -- but somehow the band managed to finish the recording.
"It's quite easy really" to record while on drugs, Jagger said. "It can be done. But I'm not saying it's really great to smoke pot and sing."
Apart from the core band members -- Jagger, Richards, drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman -- a cast of wives, cooks, drug dealers and other colourful characters appear on the black and white footage.
Among them is Jake Weber, aged eight at the time, who said he was brought to the villa by his drug-dealing father.
Weber, now a 46-year-old actor who has appeared in the US television series "Medium", is interviewed in the documentary and says his main role was rolling marijuana joints for the musicians.
"It didn't do him any harm being a drug smuggler," Jagger joked, but added: "It's not a recommended vocation for an eight-year-old."
"Stones in Exile" screens as part of the Directors' Fortnight, a side-show to the main festival.
In another section alongside the main event is the latest film by the New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard, "Film Socialism".
The Rolling Stones appeared in Godard's 1968 film "Sympathy For the Devil", also known by the title "One Plus One", which featured scenes of them in the recording studio.
"'One Plus One' is a very good film, but no one's ever been able to explain what it's about," said Jagger. "But it doesn't matter."
© 2010 AFP