The Lord of the Rings is inextricably tied to music. Whether it be the “Great Music” crafted at the start of time by Eru in The Silmarillion, the enchanting soundtracks of Peter Jackson’s films which featured Enya and Liz Fraser, or the fact that The Beatles wanted to make an adaptation of the books first, it’s safe to say that J.R.R. Tolkiens’ creation relies as heavily on audio art.
Undoubtedly, the most iconic imagining of The Lord of the Rings is Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based project, but people of a certain age also remember the highly underrated animated version from 1978, a project which tells the tale in its own charming way but has been forgotten due to the passing of time.
We can add another musician to the list of those linked to Lord of the Rings. As for the 1978 film, The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger wanted to star as the leading Hobbit, Frodo. However, despite his efforts to be cast, director Ralph Bakshi turned him down. Bakshi was one of the most celebrated directors of animated films at the time and was the mind behind 1972’s black comedy Fritz the Cat.
Although his films were fairly controversial due to their adult-oriented content, by the time his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings rolled around, Bakshi was making more accessible content. For the film, he drew heavily on Tolkien’s first two books, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Although it was a commercial success, critics were polarised on the movie, as some felt that Bakshi had left the story unfinished which, objectively, he did, as no sequel was ever released.
Per a report in The Hollywood Reporter, Jagger contacted Bakshi during the film’s production. “So I get a call from Mick Jagger — he wanted to come up and see what we were doing on Rings,” Bakshi remembered. “[My studio on Hollywood and Vine] is full of college kids all graduated from art school, a very young group.”
As was typical for the fame that Jagger had at the time, the director recalled that the crew started to get a little hysterical when the news circulated that The Stones frontman was on site. “So I’m walking through the studio with Mick Jagger and the girls start to scream and faint,” he said. “I had 2,200-3,000 people working on four floors, and the word spread to each floor that Jagger is walking around, and people got from one floor to the other through the staircase, and there was thunder like horsemen coming down, shaking the staircase.”
Not everyone was thrilled by this mania, however, least of all Bakshi’s son. “My son was there for the summer and he was terrified — he hid in the bathroom,” he revealed. “So that was just hysterical. [Jagger] wanted to do the voice of Frodo. I told him I would have used him easily but I was already recorded and everything.”
It’s a shame that Jagger didn’t make it into The Lord of the Rings, as I’m sure that he would have brought his spritely charm to the character of Frodo. Besides, Christopher Guard did a stellar job in the role anyway, and when you stop to think about it, Jagger would have been better suited for either one of the mischievous duo, Pippin and Merry.
Watch the trailer for Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings below.