I Shot Mick Jagger



photograph by Margaret Moser

"I can't get no..." Mick Jagger is directly over me, mike in one hand, the other flailing in time. I point my camera at his face, maybe seven or eight feet away. That famous elastic mouth focused in my sightline, as my itchy finger eases downward. "...satisfaction." Click.

I got photo credentials to shoot the Rolling Stones at Giants Stadium two weeks ago. There's a push to promote the Texas date and if it gets the Chron a photo pass, that works for me. Except, I'm not a photographer. What I do have is a serviceable 35mm camera with a telescopic lens. That and loading film are about the extent of my knowledge of photography, a fact that is resoundingly apparent as I, the rube, stand at a back gate marked "Media Area" with 17 professionals awaiting court with the world's greatest rock & roll band.

Click. "And a man comes on the radio, telling me useless information..." Jesus, I can't believe I am actually this close to Mick Jagger. I've had pictures of the Rolling Stones around me since I was 10. I grew up to their records, engaged in endless teenage make-out sessions to them, found meaning in their lyrics as I grew older, and... whoa! Here comes Jagger again! Click.

We've been waiting since dusk and a camaraderie has developed. A photographer with camera lenses the size of paper towel rolls makes a face to me as a third photographer, who looked like the Electric Lounge's Mike Henry after a bad acid trip, blathers on obnoxiously about something I can't hear. The smiling photog leans over and whispers, "I have no idea what Piano Man's saying," then introduces himself as Scott. I laugh; the jerk is wearing a cap with a piano-keys design knit into it. Suddenly, the gate opens and the Stones photo liaison, a pretty, dark-haired woman with a benignly businesslike presence steps out.

"I know, it's only rock & roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do..." I hold my breath, trying to focus on Keith Richards as he twirls in his tiger-print coat. He prowls over to Charlie Watts' plexiglass cage and bends his knees, his scowling guitar pointed at the white-haired drummer. Jagger does a little monkey-backstep into the frame. Click.

"The three know you are there. They will be back and forth to the front of the stage." The woman is giving us instructions. "You will be divided in two groups on a riser in front of the stage and they know you are there shooting." Everyone seems to understand the information she's imparting about the songs we can shoot except me. "Number one is very white, two is very warm, then you get off the riser for number three, because it's too red. Then get back up after for the fourth song, lots of blue and white. Then you leave the riser immediately afterward and we will lead you out." Scott winks when we both get assigned to stage right -- Ron Wood's side. Shit, I wanted Keith's side. "Just follow me," whispers Scott, and we are whisked inside the bowels of Giants Stadium and through some of the most stringent security known to rock & roll.

"...Let's spend the night together, now I need you more than ever.." Jagger has just passed in front of me again and is center stage. I can see Ron Wood aiming his guitar toward us and walking downstage toward the phalanx of cameras. I smile as I focus. I can see he's making eye contact with almost all of them -- and now he's headed my direction. Click. Smiling, he peers over his specs long enough to look me straight in the eye. A split second later, he whirls back to Jagger. Flustered, I forget to shoot.

We pass through a narrow walkway of barricades and I hear the words "paparazzi" hissed at us, and it hits me like a heartpunch. We trudge over plywood flooring leading around the side of the stage. Curtains are parted with a flourish and suddenly we are there; the sound in a sold-out Giants Stadium is aurally staggering. We are placed below the riser with only minutes to go before the Stones appear. I turn in awe at the sight of the stadium, stealing just a little of what they see, for just a second. The stage set looms large and gold over us. Scott points out the auxiliary stage that will come out and play a three-song club set in the middle of the stadium as Piano Man weasels in front of me. Then, the lights go out, and the crowd roars. Above me a golden glow begins as a wicked riff pours forth.

Oh my god... The Rolling Stones are playing "Satisfaction." Click.

-- Margaret Moser

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