Anita Pallenberg – anything but a passenger on the Stones’ journey
The late actor’s impact on the Rolling Stones was dramatic, influencing the way they looked, the circles they moved in and even their internal power structure
Well-educated and well-connected, her impact on the band was immediate and dramatic, influencing the way they looked, the circles they moved in, even their internal power structure. If Brian Jones was already being sidelined within the band he started long before Pallenberg left him for Richards, her defection seemed to seal the deal: afterwards, he was never more than a marginal presence in the band.
You can see the effect of her fashion background on their appearance by comparing the cover of 1965’s Out of Our Heads with the photos Gered Mankowitz took in late 1966 for the cover of Between the Buttons. In the former, they’re dressed in standard tough R&B band uniform – jeans, suede jackets, striped shirts – but in the latter they’re louche and dandified, a riot of extravagant tailoring, purple and orange trousers and mirrored shades. A month later, publicising the album at a photocall in Green Park, Jones and Richards in particular literally seem to be dressing like Pallenberg: floppy hats, fur coats, jewellery. “I started to become a fashion icon,” Richards later noted, “for wearing my old lady’s clothes.”
Richards, meanwhile, also credited Pallenberg with providing the Stones’ entry into London’s hip mid-60s demimonde. Already a friend of everyone from Federico Fellini to Andy Warhol before she met the band, it was she who introduced them to Robert Fraser – later to be imprisoned alongside Jagger and Richards after the infamous 1967 Redlands bust – and his circle. That included photographer Michael Cooper, gangster “Spanish” Tony Sanchez and switched-on aristocrat Tara Browne, who in John Lennon’s words “blew his mind out in a car” and for whom Richards and Pallenberg’s third child – who died in infancy – was named. Furthermore, her opinions about music were respected: one story has the band remixing their 1968 album Beggars Banquet after Pallenberg criticised it.