WEIRDLAND: R.I.P. Anita Pallenberg (Her life with Keith Richards and The Rolling Stones)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

R.I.P. Anita Pallenberg (Her life with Keith Richards and The Rolling Stones)

R.I.P. Anita Pallenberg (6 April 1944 – 13 June 2017): the model and actress best known for her relationships with members of the Rolling Stones, has died at the age of 73. Her death was made public by Stella Schnabel, daughter of painter and film director Julian, who said she had "never met a woman quite like" her. Keith Richards just shared in Twitter: "RIP Anita. Always in my heart." Pallenberg was the girlfriend of Brian Jones but left him for fellow Rolling Stone Keith Richards. 

She was also alleged to have had an affair with Sir Mick Jagger while they were making 1970 film Performance, though she always denied it. Born in Rome in 1944 to German and Italian parents, Pallenberg began her career as a model and spent time in the 1960s at Andy Warhol's famous Factory. She met Jones in 1965 but left him two years later for Richards. Jones went on to leave the band and died shortly afterwards. In his autobiography, Life, Richards described Pallenberg as a "very strong" woman who was "extremely bright" and "a great beauty". The couple had three children together, one of whom died as an infant, before they finally separated in 1980. Pallenberg sang backing vocals on classic Stones track Sympathy for the Devil and was said to have had a "profound" influence on the band. 

She had roles in films including 1969's Barbarella and 2007's Mister Lonely, and made a cameo appearance in BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous in 2001. Known for her colourful lifestyle and fascination with black magic, Pallenberg sought help for her addictions in 1987 and went on to study fashion at Central St Martins in London. Source:

Chapter Five ("Life" by Keith Richards, 2010): The Stones’ first tour of the USA. Meeting Bobby Keys at the San Antonio State Fair. Chess Records, Chicago. I hook up with the future Ronnie Spector and go to the Apollo in Harlem. Fleet Street (and Andrew Oldham) provide our new popular image: long-haired, obnoxious and dirty. We go to LA and record with Jack Nitzsche at RCA. I write “Satisfaction” in my sleep, and we have our first number one. Allen Klein becomes our manager. Linda Keith breaks my heart. Brian begins to melt down—and meets Anita Pallenberg. Acid came into his picture around the same time.

Chapter Six ("Life" by Keith Richards): Mick and I had gotten incredibly nasty to Brian Jones when he became a joke, when he effectively gave up his position in the band. There had been tension way before Brian started becoming an asshole. But I was trying to mend fences at the end of 1966. I was footloose and fancy-free, having ended my affair with Linda Keith. Brian always had to have an imaginary enemy, and around this time he’d decided it was Mick Jagger who had grossly mistreated and offended him. In those days on Courtfield Road (Gloucester) I had nothing to do with Anita, strictly speaking. I was fascinated by her from what I thought was a safe distance. I thought certainly that Brian had got very lucky. I could never figure out how he got his hands on her. 

My first impression was of a woman who was very strong. Also an extremely bright woman, that’s one of the reasons she sparked me. Let alone that she was so entertaining and such a great beauty to look at. One of the prime women in the world. I loved her spirit, even though she would instigate and turn the screw and manipulate. She wouldn’t let you off the hook for a minute. If I said, “That’s nice… ,” she would say, “Nice? I hate that word. Oh, stop being so fucking bourgeois.” We’re going to fight about the word “nice”? How would you know? Her English was still a bit patchy, so she would break out in German occasionally when she really meant something. “Excuse me. I’ll have that translated.” Anita and I would look at each other. The idea of stealing a band member’s woman was not on my agenda. The truth was I’m looking at Anita and I’m thinking, there’s nothing I can do about this. I’m going to have to be with her. I’m going to have her or she’s going to have me. One way or another. 

I have never put the make on a girl in my life. I just don’t know how to do it. My instincts are always to leave it to the woman. Which is kind of weird, but I can’t pull the come-on bit: “Hey, baby, how you doing? Come on, let’s get it on” and all of that. I’m tongue-tied. I suppose every woman I’ve been with, they’ve had to put the make on me. Meanwhile I’m putting the make on in another way—by creating an aura of insufferable tension. So Anita made the first move. I just could not put the make on my friend’s girl. It’s the Sir Galahad in me. And we got closer and closer and then suddenly, without her old man, she had the balls to break the ice and say fuck it. In the back of the Bentley, somewhere in Spain between Barcelona and Valencia, Anita and I looked at each other. The tension broke then. And suddenly we’re together. When you get laid with Anita Pallenberg for the first time, you remember things. We stopped in Valencia overnight and checked in as Count and Countess Zigenpuss, and that was the first time I made love to Anita. And from Algeciras, where we checked in as Count and Countess Castiglione, we took the ferry and the car over to Tangier to the El Minzah Hotel. There, in Tangier, were Robert Fraser; Bill Burroughs; Brion Gysin, Burroughs’s friend and fellow cutup artist—another of the hip public schoolboys—and Bill Willis, decorator of exiles’ palaces. We were greeted by a bundle of telegrams from Brian ordering Anita to come back and collect him. It was obvious that Brian and Anita had come to the end of their tether. They’d beaten the shit out of each other. There was no point in it. 

Anita and I got back to my little pad in St. John’s Wood, which I’d hardly used since I’d moved into it with Linda Keith. It was quite a difference for Anita after Courtfield Gardens. We were hiding out from Brian there, and that took a while. Brian and I still had to work together, and Brian made desperate attempts to get Anita back. There was no chance of that happening. Once Anita makes up her mind, she makes up her mind. It’s said that I stole her. But my take on it is that I rescued her. Brian went to Paris and fell onto Anita’s agent—howling that everyone had left him, fucked off and left him. He never forgave me. I don’t blame him. On acid, at night in the full moon at the Villa Medici, it was just utterly beautiful. I remember Anita’s smile. I mean, her wonderful smile in those days, which promised everything. When she was having a good time, she was so full of promise. She gave this incredible smile, which was quite frightening too, all those teeth. Like a wolf, like a cat that got the cream. She was gorgeous because she was so beautifully dressed, always in the perfect costume. Anita had a huge influence on the style of the times. She could put anything together and look good. She certainly made a man out of me. 

Chapter Seven ("Life" by Keith Richards): You’ve got an old lady like Anita Pallenberg and expect other guys not to hit on her? I heard rumors, and I thought, if she’s going to be making a move with Mick, good luck to him; he can only take that one once. Anyway, she had no fun with the tiny todger. It didn’t surprise me. In a way I kind of expected it. Anita’s a piece of work. She probably nearly broke his back! It probably put a bigger gap between me and Mick than anything else. And probably forever. I gave no reaction at all to Mick about Anita. And decided to see how things would pan out from there. It wasn’t the first time we’d been in competition for a woman. It was like two alphas fighting. But it’s hardly the basis for a good relationship, right? I could have given Anita shit for it, but what was the point? We were together. I was on the road. At the same time, Anita and I had drifted into heroin. We just snorted it for a year or two, along with pure cocaine. Speedballs. And they’re giving us these pure ups. Every junkie’s rent was made out of selling off their coke. Very few were interested at all in cocaine, and if they were, they kept a bit back to give them a boost. That was the golden era. at least until ’73, ’74. After that, they knocked it on the head and it was methadone, which is worse, or certainly no better. Synthetic. One day the junkies woke up and they only got half their script in pure heroin and half in methadone. And then that turned it into a bit more of a market, the era of the all-night drugstore in Piccadilly. 

I have no clear recollection of the first time I had heroin. It was probably slipped in with a line of coke, in a speedball —a mixture of coke and smack. They don’t call it “heroin” for nothing. It’s a seductress. It was never in the front of my mind until I was truly hooked. It’s a subtle thing. It grabs you slowly. But I’ve never mainlined. No, the whole delicacy of mainlining was never for me. I was never looking for that flash; If you do it in the vein, you get an incredible flash, but then you want more in about two hours. And also you have tracks, which I couldn’t afford to show off. Furthermore, I could never find a vein. My veins are tight; even doctors can’t find them. So I used to shoot it up in the muscles. I could slap a needle in and not feel a thing. That was a very productive and creative period, Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed—some good songs were written, but I never thought drugs per se had very much to do. Mick chose flattery, which is very like junk—a departure from reality. I chose junk. And also I was with my old lady Anita, who was as avid as I was. I think we just wanted to explore that avenue. And when we did, we only meant to explore the first few blocks, but we explored it to the end. 

Chapters Nine and Ten ("Life" by Keith Richards): Anita had cleaned up when she was pregnant, but the minute she had the baby, she was straight back on it. Anita was beginning to act in unpredictable ways; she began to suffer from paranoia, and during my absence on tour began to collect a lot of people who took her hospitality for granted—a bad combination. I still loved her and she was the mother of my kids. I don’t let go; I have to be kicked out. But Anita and I were starting to be no good together. She had become delusional, very paranoid. It was one of her darkest periods and it developed with the dope. I remember once I took her in the car and told her to concentrate on the number plates, something mundane to try and calm her, connect her to reality. We made a pact, at her request, that I would never take her to the nuthouse. Anita was a Valkyrie who decided who dies in battle, she went right off the rails and became lethal. Anita had rage whether there was dope or not, but if there was no dope she’d go crazy. Marlon and I used to live in fear of her sometimes, of what she would do to herself, let alone to us. You’d come back to the house, and the walls were covered in blood or wine. We would be there just hoping that she’d stay asleep and not wake up in one of her screaming fits, raging at the top of the stairs like Bette Davis, throwing glass objects at you. 

She was a tough bitch. No, there wasn’t a lot of fun for a while with Anita in the middle ’70s. I loved her dearly. I don’t get that involved with women if I don’t love them dearly. I always feel it’s my failure if it doesn’t work, if I can’t pull it together and make it all right. But with Anita I couldn’t make it right. She was unstoppable. She was like Hitler; she wanted to take everything down with her. I tried to clean up loads of times, but not Anita. She would go the other way. Any suggestion of it and she would go into rebellion mode and if anything take more. Domestic duties, at this point, were not something she took on gladly. I said, what the fuck am I doing? OK, she’s the mother of my children. I loved the woman; I’d do anything. She’s got a problem? I’ll take over. I’ll help out. “Unscrupulous” is not a bad word for her. I don’t mind flinging it in her face right now, and she knows it. It’s up to her to live with. I just did what I had to do. Anita will still have to wonder how the hell she screwed up. I’d still be with her right now! I’m never one to change, especially with the kids. Anita and I can now sit around at Christmastime with our grandchildren and give each other a bemused smile; hey, how you doing? She’s become a benign spirit. She’s a marvelous granny. She’s survived. But things could have been better, baby. —"Life" (2010) by Keith Richards 

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