Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger ditched the World Economic Forum in Davos Tuesday, fearing his attendance at an event hosted by Britain's Conservative Prime Minister would identify him as a right-winger. Is Mick hiding something?
The idea that a once-drug-addled, orgie-friendly '70s libertine is a closet conservative has captured the media's imagination for years. For just about as long, Jagger has tried to tamp down speculation about his politics as he did yesterday. “During my career I have always eschewed party politics and I came to Davos as a guest because I thought it would be stimulating and I have always been interested in economics and world events,” he said in a statement announcing his plans to leave the conference. “I now find myself being used as a political football and there has been a lot of comment about my political allegiances which are inaccurate. I think it is best I decline."
At the risk of adding ammo to a political witch hunt, we've collected the biographical tidbits from Jagger's storied life that point to a right-ward bent. While aging rock stars are free to pursue any idealogical persuasion they choose, here's some evidence:
Education: As liberal professors sometimes warn students, a degree in economics can be a gateway to conservatism. Jagger studied the subject at the London School of Economics after gaining a scholarship following gramar school, according to the BBC. At the time, he said the subject bored him. More recently, however, he has expressed a strong interest in economics as he did in his statement yesterday.
Pro-Business, fiscal conservatism: As Forbes writer Andy Serwer wrote in 2002, Jagger's leadership of the Stones is characterized by rampant growth, selling off song rights, aggressively pursuing sponsorships, and hawking merchandise along the way. "The Stones carry no Woodstockesque, antibusiness baggage,’ he wrote. Additionally Zoë Heller in T, The New York Times Style Magazine made a similar case that Jagger was profits-obsessed in 2010. “[Jagger's] beady oversight of the Rolling Stones’ financial affairs has, famously, helped make the band one of the richest in rock ’n’ roll history,” she wrote. “When he is on the road, he has been known to keep a map in his dressing room, indicating the city at which the tour will go into profit.” This was also a subject author Debra Sharon Davis touched on in her book, BackStage Pass VIP: "Jagger was like the young private equity moguls of this era, the money guys," she wrote. "He supervised the Rolling Stones organization -- the toughest CEO, except he trusted no one and was not a delegator. He questioned every purchase. He even concerned himself with the price of pencil sharpeners in the Stones' office. Whatever the price, he thought it was too high. He was obsessed with profits."