Keep your pop boys, I’ve been moved by Jagger and McCartney
The raw energy that Mick Jagger and the Stones brought to their performance at the CCI that night remains etched in memorymumbai Updated: May 12, 2017 01:00 IST
Justin Bieber’s visit to Mumbai left me unmoved. This is not a comment on his music or performance, which by all accounts went down pretty well with his fans. Rather, more to do with my preferences in music.
I’m not into pop and R&B, though I’ve had my fling with Abba, Boney M etc in my younger days. Rock and roll is my staple, veering occasionally towards head-banging stuff when the mood is grim.
Heretical as it may seem, I skipped the celebrated Michael Jackson show in Mumbai in 1996. But when rock artistes and bands arrived, I ready myself in earnest weeks in advance, for instance, Mark Knopfler, Jethro Tull et al, with the inimitable Rolling Stones on April 7, 2003 being the best act I’ve been to.
The raw energy that Mick Jagger and the Stones brought to their performance at the CCI that night remains etched in memory. It had everybody on their feet, shimmying to his every move and pout. There couldn’t have been a single person complaining of not being satisfied!
I found Jagger’s performance even more compelling for a couple of years earlier I had seen him in a totally different avatar.
In mid-2000, I was in England when the late Mark Mascarenhas called up one afternoon saying cryptically, “We have a very important business meeting coming up, be ready with the presentation of the project.’’
Mark was chief of WorldTel which owned considerable TV rights for cricket in Asia (broadcaster of the 1996 World Cup, tournaments in Sharjah etc.) and also managed Sachin Tendulkar.
We had only recently launched a magazine (Cricket Talk) and a website (totalcricket.com) for which he was seeking investors and alliances.
There were only a few people in the restaurant when we entered. Mark cast a gaze around the room and said, “Aah, there he is.’’
As we drew close to his table, the man raised his head, leaving me winded. Longish mane of hair, the heavily wrinkled face, the sausage thick lips — it had to be Mick Jagger.
While I struggled for words as we shook hands, Mark smiled and said, “Meet the Rolling Stone who loves cricket.’’
Jagger was not just an ordinary cricket fan but a devotee, reeling off facts, figures and anecdotes without restraint. He had started a cricket portal Jagged Networks with which Mark was interested in allying in some way.
Dipping a biscuit into his coffee every now and then, Jagger came up with swift calculations or counters to Mark. He was hardly the archetypal, flamboyant rock star.
The meeting lasted barely half an hour after which Mark and he slapped each other on the back in a done-deal sort of way. I don’t know whether the alliance ever fructified, but what I do remember vividly is Jagger was as hard-nosed at business as they come, which was an eyeopener.
Equally interesting in a different sort of way was an encounter with former Beatle Paul McCartney.
This was in circa 2001, when he had come to Mumbai with his then partner Heather Mills. It was a below-the-radar visit that went virtually unreported at his request.
The invitation to meet him came from sitar maestro Ustad Nishat Khan, who hosted a dinner for a motley group at the Taj Mahal hotel. It was an evening to remember.
For almost the first half of the evening, it was Heather Mills who did most of the talking.
With her aquiline features, she was striking, and spoke with confidence and authority.
Apart from her relationship with McCartney, she was involved in animal welfare and eradication of landmines, having had one leg amputated, which made her a heroic figure, inevitably attracting attention and admiration.
As the evening went on, McCartney warmed up, talking about his earlier visit to India in the 1960s to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and his relationship with other Beatles, speaking particularly fondly of George Harrison.
The evening ran into a hitch before we left however, as McCartney refused to let us take photographs. “As a matter of policy, I don’t do this,’’ he said. “The pictures will be taken with my camera, give me your addresses and the photos will reach you.’’
It looked like he was fobbing us off. But we all posed for the pictures. Nothing happened for some two months until one day a packet arrived from England. It contained photos with McCartney, autographed with his best wishes.
I never saw The Beatles live, but this was an unforgettable performance.