As the spawn of a rock ‘n’ roll legend who has been knighted by the Prince of Wales for his services to music, and a Texan supermodel whose face has graced the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan
, and Vanity Fair
, James Jagger claims to have had a pretty normal upbringing. His family gathered around the television to watch a Western every Friday night and celebrated holidays together with a gift exchange, and like many kids his age, he endured his share of parental flak about getting a proper education and a reliable profession. Yeah, okay, so he did get to sit in the Batmobile while his mother was on the set of director Tim Burton’s Batman
film, and he has seen a few rock shows here and there, but the young Jagger insists life to this point has been rather unglamorous. Most un-Miley Cyrus like.
Well, if Jagger thought his childhood unglamorous, he’s just been introduced to a whole new level of mundane as his band Turbogeist schlep from city to city, playing intimate venues and rock festivals like Toronto’s North by Northeast, which showcases new and upcoming talent. This son of rock royalty, who was once named one of England’s best-dressed men, now wears the same pair of socks for days and hauls his own amp around in the rain. The fledgling band even went so far as to fund their recent tour by selling nitrous at British festivals this summer, much to Mick’s disapproval. But for James Jagger, these trials are all part of the privilege of making music and building a name for himself outside the long shadow cast by his famous parents. “There’s nothing like it,” he says.
James Leroy Augustine Jagger has always been a bit of a dreamer. Born in August 1985 to Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger and the feisty model Jerry Hall, the painfully shy and introverted heir to a rock ‘n’ roll dynasty started out life wanting to be an astronaut—that is, until he found out spinal taps were a prerequisite of the job. He then set his heart on the next best thing, a career in science. An exemplary student, James earned a place to study biochemistry at Loughborough University but passed on the opportunity when he was bitten by the acting bug, a decision which had Mick, a staunch believer in higher education, tearing his hair out.
The young Jagger received glowing reviews for his debut in London a few years back in two plays by American author James McLure at Islington’s tiny King’s Head Theatre. The up-and-coming thespian also landed a small part in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
, a film about the life of British singer Ian Dury, and is up for a role opposite Michelle Williams playing Colin Clark, the Old Etonian who showed Marilyn Monroe a good time when she made The Prince and the Showgirl
in the ‘50s. Given his uncanny likeness to his father, there has even been talk in film circles that James is in line to star as the Stones’ singer in an as yet untitled £5 million biopic of Sir Mick.
But like a lot of people his age, Jagger has been struggling to find his niche. Aside from the acting he’s done, James Jagger has also dabbled in modeling. He has appeared in campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Pepe Jeans and Burberry and has strutted his stuff on the catwalk in an appearance for British designer Kim Jones. He has written a novella about an opium dealer during the Industrial Revolution that has yet to see the light of day and is working on a screenplay set during the Korean War. And now, four decades after his father first succumbed to the siren song that lured him away from academia and put Mick Jagger on the path to infamy, the progeny of London’s sexiest knight is throwing his hat into the musical ring.
Turbogeist—the four-piece garage-punk outfit with Jagger on vocals and guitar, childhood friend Luis Felber on guitar and backup vocals, Josh Ludlow on drums, and James Dunson on bass—have been packing small clubs, promoting their band in the hope of landing a record deal. According to Jagger, they have about 20 songs ready to be put to album and have been gaining interest and attention from producers and A&R reps on both sides of the Atlantic. They are currently at work on their debut EP and recently spent time in the studio with Canadian producer Jon Drew.
Blessed with the undeniable Jagger charm and the full, rubbery lips and languorous gaze of his father, when it comes to music, the comparisons between father and son end there. Where Mick’s music is rooted in the blues, James recalls Eighties punk and Nineties alt-rock in his work with Turbogeist. The Replacements, Roky Erickson, Pantera, and Prince are this band’s Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. With songs like the rocker “Devil’s Barter,” the dark anthem “Ice Cold Beers” and its gang-style vocals, and an homage to New York City called “Rats,” this ragtag bunch of London punks give it their all, singing furiously about addiction, girls and beer primarily, although "shout" might be a more accurate description. There’s no spitting on the audience, no sneering or rolling in glass like the beloved punks of old, but Turbogeist are just as raw, and without all that nasty attitude.
James Jagger is working hard to wriggle out from under the weight of his famous surname and is fast becoming a musician in his own right. His vivid stage presence is driving crowds a bit wild, but does this second generation Jagger have the same snake hips as his father, you might be wondering. When the question was recently put to him, Jagger roller his big brown eyes humorously to the heavens. “I get that all the time,” he said. “And the answer is no. I actually feel quite self-conscious when I'm dancing. I have to be wasted to want to gyrate my hips in a similar fashion to my dad. Nah, not for me."