Anita Pallenberg, actress, model, style icon, “It Girl” of the 60’s and 70’s, and muse of The Rolling Stones, has died at age 75.
She lived a life of scandal, glamour, and rock 'n' roll. Here are 7 reasons she was fabulous:
1. She was a world-traveling wild woman
She was born in German-occupied Rome during WWII and, due to separation from the war, didn’t see her father until she was 3 years old. After being expelled from German boarding school at 16, she partied her way through Rome with the cast and crew of Fellini's La Dolce Vita, New York City with Andy Warhol’s Factory friends and superstars, and Paris as a fashion model. Keith Richards, long-time partner and member of the Rolling Stones, said about her, “She knew everything, and she could say it in five languages. She scared the pants off me.”
2. She was a muse of the Rolling Stones.
Jo Bergman, once the personal assistant to the Rolling Stones, said of her impact: “Anita is a Rolling Stone. She, Mick, Keith and Brian were the Rolling Stones. Her influence has been profound. She keeps things crazy.” Marianne Faithfull, former girlfriend of Mick Jagger, ascribed to Anita in her 1994 biography: “How Anita came to be with Brian is really the story of how the Stones became the Stones. She almost single-handedly engineered a cultural revolution in London by bringing together the Stones and the jeunesse dorée” - the young, wealthy, and stylish - “The Stones came away with a patina of aristocratic decadence that . . . transformed the Stones from pop stars into cultural icons.”
3. She was romantically linked to (at least) two of the Rolling Stones.
Pallenberg met the Rolling Stones in Munich in 1965 backstage at one of their concerts and offered the band some hash. She started dating member Brian Jones but ended their relationship in 1967 after he was physically abusive toward her on a Moroccan vacation. When Keith Richards saw the abuse, he whisked her away to London, and they began a relationship that lasted until 1980. They were never married but had 3 children, son Marlon Leon Sundeep (now 46), daughter Dandelion Angela (now 44), and a second son, Tara Jo Jo Gunne, who died of sudden infant death syndrome in 1976. She was also romantically linked to Mick Jagger while they were filming a 1970 crime drama, Performance, which featured a sex scene between the two that was so smokin’ hot, it allegedly won a Dutch porn award. Richards publicly confirmed the relationship with Jagger and wrote a song about his heartache, "Gimme Shelter," but Pallenberg always denied it. In Life, Keith Richards’s 2010 memoir, he wrote, “I like a high-spirited woman. And with Anita, you knew you were taking on a Valkyrie — she who decides who dies in battle.”
4. She was a style icon.
Her signature witchy look, which she described as “boots, belts, cashmere, hats, sunglasses, furs as well,” is credited with being a major influence on the Stones’ glam 1960’s style. Richards said in his memoir, “I started to become a fashion icon for wearing my old lady’s clothes.” Her style was an inspiration to other fashion queens Stella McCartney, Bella Freud, and Kate Moss.
5. She was into black magic.
Tony Sanchez, Keith Richards’s bodyguard and drug dealer, said Pallenberg “was obsessed with black magic and began to carry a string of garlic with her everywhere - even to bed - to ward off vampires. She also had a strange, mysterious old shaker for holy water, which she used for some of her rituals. Her ceremonies became increasingly secret, and she warned me to never interrupt her when she was working on a spell.” Sanchez revered her as “a life-force, a woman so powerful, so full of strength and determination that men came to lean on her.”
6. She partied hard then got herself clean.
Her relationship with Richards was riddled with drugs. Both were addicted to heroin, and a warrant for Anita’s arrest led police to search their Toronto hotel rooms in 1977 and arrest Richards for possession of heroin and Anita for possession of marijuana. She went to rehab in 1987 and in her later years reportedly attended several AA meetings a week.
7. She made peace with death but was still slaying the catwalk in her final year.
Photo: Screenshot LFW Pam Hogg SS17
In an August 2016 interview with Alain Elkann, Pallenberg reconciled, "I am ready to die. I have done so much here. My mum died at 94. I don’t want to lose my independence. Now I am over 70 and, to be honest, I did not think I would live over 40." Despite a pacified soul, she strutted the catwalk at London Fashion Week in September 2016 for her friend Pam Hogg, British fashion designer.
She is survived by her two children and 5 grandchildren and will forever be remembered as a muthafuckin’ force to be reckoned with.
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