Teenage Rock Star - Mick Jagger Climbing at High RocksVideo

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In a recent episode of the The Howard Stern Show, the American radio host asked The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger about a video clip featuring a young Mick and his father Joe Jagger climbing at High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells. 

"I've watched that video of you with your father, the one when you were a little boy and you're climbing a rock," Stern says. "It's fascinating because it's so you, but it's just this little kid."

It's true: before he was a rock 'n' roll star on stage, a teenage Mick Jagger showed off his moves on sandstone.

In the short YouTube clip from a 1959 TV programme called Seeing Sport, a fresh-faced, 15-year-old Jagger models his low-tech gym shoes and demonstrates a climb at High Rocks as his father narrates the activity. "I'm coming up!" Jagger shouts as he follows the leader up the route, rope around his waist. 

In the radio interview, Stern asks Jagger: "Your dad was a gym teacher, which in my mind anyway seems like a real hard-ass, a very practical kind of guy. He wanted you to do well, his heart was in the right place. What was it like when you went to your father and you said 'Dad, I'm joining a rock 'n' roll band and I'm dropping out of college?'"

Jagger, now 78, doesn't address the climbing video specifically, but explains how his father's teaching career instilled both a love for sport and an academic focus in his younger self. What his parents didn't quite realise, though, was that their outgoing and extroverted son — with all his extra-curricular passions, including music, football and other sports — also had designs on show business. Jagger eventually abandoned his studies at the London School of Economics to join The Rolling Stones in 1962.

"I think he was depressed for a year, but then he saw that something was happening and in the end he loved it," Jagger said of his father's reaction to starting out on his journey to rockstardom.

Speaking to The Guardian in 2004, Jagger described Joe Jagger's influence and his passion for more eccentric activities:

"My father Joe worked as a sports instructor at St Mary's College in Twickenham. Sport was his whole life. He passed on that love to me; I couldn't help but be a sports fan. He was pretty much my personal trainer when I was a boy. I played cricket and football but dad had me doing all sorts of strange outdoor pursuits too. I used to go canoeing and rock climbing down in Kent. Seriously."

In his interview with Howard Stern, Jagger mentioned his famously energetic dance moves and on-stage hedonistic feats — some of which may have been inspired by those formative days at High Rocks. Jagger continued:

"I jumped off the stage. I could do absolutely crazy things that I hadn't rehearsed and some of them were very dangerous. Even later on in the '80s I'd climb up these 60-foot-high stages and go on top of them. But it's fun, for me that's part of the performance. I'm a musician and I'm quite serious about music, but when you're actually performing, there's another added element apart from the music in the scene."

To get 'the moves like Jagger', so to speak, requires some practice. Asked about the physical training he undergoes ahead of going on tour — which includes vocal exercises, gym sessions, dance and running — Jagger told Stern:

"My favourite part of it is dancing because that's what I'm actually doing on stage. The rest of it – being in the gym on a machine – is not really what I'm gonna be doing, so I always say to my trainer: "We're gonna be doing more dancing, aren't we?" So, that's much more fun, to go into a dance studio and play around, fool around, trying things out."

The Guardian asked Jagger in 2004: "Is it sport that keeps you so fit?"

"Nah, man, that's all the dancing," he replied. 

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18 Oct, 2021

About 30 years ago we arrived at the St.Govans car park in Pembroke and were surprised to see a black limo parked there. As we were walking along the cliff top who should come walking past but Mick Jagger and some other guy (we assumed a minder) heading back to the car park. He had no gear and wasn’t dressed for climbing or walking so we assumed he had maybe just been to see the Chapel. In retrospect perhaps he had just soloed something tasty.

18 Oct, 2021

I think I've seen a photo of Basil Fanshaw Jagger (Joe) climbing on what looks like Wimberry. He definitely lived in Greenfield for a time , as did his father, and taught PE at Hulme Grammar School in Oldham.

19 Oct, 2021

I was at St Govans that day too. In May? I didn't see the limo but the weather was crap and we were sitting in the car and my mate suddenly said, "heh look, it's Mick Jagger". I just thought he meant it was someone who looked similar, but it really was him. I seem to remember hearing somewhere that he has family in the area.

19 Oct, 2021

Probably seeing if there were any Stones-themed route names about in order to sue for intellectual property theft.

30 Oct, 2021

I met Joe Jagger, and his wife, who's name escapes me, several times as he used to bring his P.E. students from St Mary's College, Twickenham to the centre I worked at in the early 1970s, not far from where this bit of film was taken, each year for a week's outdoor pursuits. A very nice man, clearly well thought of by his students.

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