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When Mick Jagger, Bono and Pete Townshend collaborated

Mick Jagger, Bono, and Pete Townshend are three of the most iconic rockers of all time. Jagger is the frontman of the raucous rabble, The Rolling Stones, Bono is the focal point of Irish heroes U2, and Pete Townshend is the guitar maestro and creative mastermind of The Who. The three have had stellar careers that have seen them be ranked at the top of the pile for decades, with legions of fans that adore them in a way fit for Gods.

What people seem to forget though, is that the trio has worked together before. This came by the way of Mick Jagger’s solo work, which is another thing that people seem to forget. Whilst he has always been the frontman of The Rolling Stones, there have been periods, either when the band was enjoying some downtime or running parallel to their work, that Jagger has released solo singles and albums, as his creativity is always flowing.

Jagger has released four solo albums to date, and it was on his last, 2001’s Goddess in the Doorway that his collaboration with Bono and Pete Townshend appeared. Interestingly, Townshend had already appeared on two tracks on Jagger’s first solo record, 1985’s She’s the Boss, and clearly, The Rolling Stones man was captivated by the quality of his work. 

The track on Goddess in the Doorway is ‘Joy’, and it is one of Jagger’s most-lauded solo cuts. Noted for its religious spirit, it is comprised of numerous references to Jesus, Buddha, and Heaven. Given that Bono is known for utilising religious imagery in his work with U2, when sitting down with Jagger in 2001, David Fricke of Rolling Stone asked him if he wrote the song with Bono in mind.

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“No,” Jagger responded. “I’ve known Bono since I can’t remember. We’ve always had singsongs…. When I’d done ‘Joy’– I hadn’t finished all the vocals – I thought it would be great to do with him. U2 were playing in Cologne, so I took my little recording system to his hotel room, and we did it.”

Despite not writing ‘Joy’ specifically for Bono, elsewhere, Jagger has clarified that he had noticed a similarity between the spiritual essence of the track and that of Bono’s oeuvre. 

“That’s why I thought of him to be on it,” Jagger explained to Paul Du Noyer. “I wrote it and thought this could be something he could do really well. He takes it on very quickly. And Pete Townshend plays on it too, and he’s another guy that’s spiritually inspired. I like ‘Joy’ because it conveys the happiness in creation through gospel combined with rock, without being beholden to a gospel form.”

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