Faithfull, Marianne 1946-
FAITHFULL, Marianne 1946-
PERSONAL: Born 1946, in Hampstead, England; daughter of Glynn Faithfull (an officer in British Intelligence) and Eva Sacher-Masoch (Baroness Erisso); married John Dunbar, an art dealer (divorced); married Ben Brierly, 1979 (divorced); children: Nicholas (first marriage). Hobbies and other interests: Reading, cooking, children.
ADDRESSES: Home—Ireland. Agent—Ellen Smith, 868 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94133.
CAREER: Folksinger, actress for stage and film, author. Recorded albums, including Marianne Faithfull, 1965, Go Away from My World, 1965, Faithfull Forever, 1966, Broken English, 1979, and A Secret Life, 1995. Appeared in films, including Made in U.S.A., 1966, Assault on Agathon, 1976, and When Pigs Fly, 1995. Appeared in theater productions, including Three Sisters, 1967, Hamlet, 1969, Alice in Wonderland, 1973, The Collector, 1974, and The Threepenny Opera.
(With David Dalton) Faithfull: An Autobiography, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Chance and Necessity.
SIDELIGHTS: Marianne Faithfull became well-known as a folk singer during the early 1960s, then soon afterward gained notoriety for her relationships with several leading figures of the rock music scene. Her autobiography, Faithfull, is a candid account of both her musical career and private life. Claiming Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as the love of her life, Faithfull was most often associated in public with Mick Jagger during the 1960s. In her memoir, Faithfull recounts numerous successful and unsuccessful attempts by other famous men to seduce her. Jeff Giles commented in Newsweek that "one of the great pleasures of reading Faithfull . . . is watching a generation of rock legends humiliate themselves as they try to hit on one woman." Faithfull is also frank about her years of drug abuse, which sidetracked her career for almost a decade; after the 1979 release of Broken English, which restored Faithfull's reputation as a performer, she reemerged "furious and knowing she'd become a cabaret singer for the end of the world," according to Giles in Newsweek.
The daughter of aristocrats, Faithfull was educated in a convent before being discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager of the Rolling Stones. Her first single, "As Tears Go By," which was written by Jagger, Richards, and Oldham, became a hit in 1964. Not long afterward, as Faithfull recounts in her autobiography, she was meeting or touring with many of the names closely associated with the music of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Ike and Tina Turner. It was during this period that Faithfull was—in the words of London Sunday Times contributor Christa D'Souza—"inducted, like a kid in a candy store, into the pleasures of getting high." In a New York Times Book Review critique of Faithfull, David Kelly commented that the singer "has great memory when it comes to acid trips," citing the author's account of Rolling Stone Brian Jones's urge to play a musical composition for the Barbary apes on the Rock of Gibraltar.
Faithfull's relationship with Jagger came to symbolize a certain rock-and-roll attitude during the late 1960s. "If they weren't the first example of rock royalty, they were certainly the most mythologized—with their King's Road clothes, their aristocratic friends, and their flouting of middle-class conventions," commented Cathy Horyn in Vanity Fair. After a four year relationship, Faithfull and Jagger separated in 1970. Her singing career, despite a moderately successful greatest hits album, had ground to a halt, and she was addicted to cocaine and heroin. "Unsupported by Mick's constant disapproval of her drug-taking, she became a street addict and spent the next decade in a smack-induced haze," D'Souza wrote in the London Sunday Times.
Faithfull's account of events from the 1970s include two more marriages, several suicide attempts, a recovery from drug addiction, and the revival of her singing career with the release in 1979 of Broken English—an album considered a classic by numerous music critics. She resumed her acting career in the late 1970s, having once starred in prestigious productions of Shakespeare and Chekhov a decade earlier. Although Faithfull slid back into drug dependency in the years following the debut of Broken English, she definitively kicked her drug addiction in 1986 after a rigorous detox program. Besides penning Faithfull, the singer has collaborated on a record with composer Angelo Badalamenti, whose works include the soundtrack for the cult television series Twin Peaks. Released in 1995, A Secret Life is described by Horyn in Vanity Fair as a "searing collaboration . . . which will almost certainly restore this fallen angel to her rightful place: as one of the great interpretive singers of our time."
Critics appreciated Faithfull for its insider's view of rock society during a pivotal period in the history of contemporary music. In the London Sunday Times, Sarah Miles pointed out that "the section in the book on the elite—Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the very nub of the Sixties rock'n'roll folklore—is often interesting for those who knew none of it, and, I would have thought, an invaluable document for those rock 'n' roll buffs who mistakenly thought they knew it all." Horyn, in Vanity Fair, observed that Faithfull "offers plenty of firsthand Jagger insights, but it's her riffs on Dylan, Hendrix, and, of course, her own well-stimulated life that make for some of the best reading."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 14, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Interview, February, 1991, pp. 78, 80.
Newsweek, August 22, 1994, pp. 60, 62.
New York Times Book Review, October 16, 1994, p. 37.
Sunday Times, August 14, 1994, section 4, pp. 1-2; August 21, 1994, section 7, p. 3.
Vanity Fair, September, 1994, pp. 102-112.*