Anita Pallenberg, actress, model and muse to the Stones in their most creative years, left us on June 13.
Goodbye Anita Pallenberg, Prodigy from Mobb Deep and Kelan Phil Cohran.
If you were to pick a moment that really started London swinging, or when the beat boom became an artistic phenomenon, you’d have a good case for choosing Anita Pallenberg’s first encounter with the Stones’ Brian Jones in Paris in April 1965. The occasion was a sophisticated dinner organised by Donald Cammell, later famous for writing and co-directing the 1970 film Performance, which infamously starred Pallenberg alongside James Fox and Mick Jagger. That night was as surreal and erotically charged as the movie. Anita, says Brian’s then companion Zouzou, invited the couple for some sexual experimentation; he laughed, and pressed Zouzou’s hand against his heart so she could feel it pounding – whether for fear or excitement no one, probably including Brian, knew for sure. Pallenberg would famously team up with Jones in Munich a few months later. She changed his life – but there was so much more to the multilingual actress and model, brought up in Italy but schooled in Germany, than that. Pallenberg transformed the Stones’ looks and opened up all manner of connections with the art and movie world; hence her influence stretched way beyond the Stones themselves. Others played their part, including her friend Marianne Faithfull, art dealer Bob Fraser and King’s Road aristocrat-dandy-antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs; but it was Anita, alongside Marianne, who became the most potent icon of this transformation. Perhaps her friend Prince Stanislaus Klossowski de Rola, aka Stones fellow-traveller Stash and son of the painter Balthus, puts it best. “Her attitude was ‘I want things to happen’. She was bent on pushing things, taking things to the edge. One shouldn’t settle into some mock bourgeois domesticity. She was a very brilliant, talented individual in her own right, and also a wild person.” Wild she was. Her pairing with Brian Jones made for a visionary, iconic partnership, but one totally without conscience. They were notorious for spiking people’s drinks with LSD. Once, when Brian’s ex-partner Linda Lawrence, desperate for money, brought their son Julian to the lovers’
“SHE WAS BRILLIANT, TALENTED… A WILD PERSON.”
Courtfield Road flat, the pair cackled from their upstairs window, and refused to answer the door. If Jones’s own failings were multiple, Anita’s dropping of him for Keith Richards was brutal. But things kept moving, and with Keith the mad cavalcade only accelerated. Anita’s union with Keith was messy, with tragedies of its own – a messy fling with Mick, the pair’s son, Tara, dying at 10 weeks, a hanger-on, Scott Cantrell, was shot dead in mysterious circumstances, and their split was, for a short time, rancorous thanks to Anita’s own drugs problems. Their other children, Marlon and Dandelion, survived remarkably intact. In later years, Pallenberg studied fashion and textiles at Central Saint Martins, and her degree show was, by all accounts, triumphant. Yet she eschewed the “nasty” world of fashion, and her work in textiles was cut short when she took five years out to look after her ailing mother. In the perfect, Candide-style coda to this picaresque life, she spent her later years tending an allotment in Chelsea and sketching flowers at the nearby Physic Garden. Paul Trynka