The Rocky Horror Show originated as a play written by Richard O’Brien, which became a phenomenon that toured the world and became a staple of the theatre scene on both sides of the Atlantic.
After the theatre success, the story was turned into The Rocky Horror Picture Show that stormed cinemas in 1975 and became a global sensation. Due to the love that the musical received, there was a lot of hype around the motion picture, and everybody wanted a piece of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, who apparently let it be known that he was interested in playing the lead in the film.
Jagger was friendly with creator Richard O’Brien a long way before The Rocky Horror Show first hit the West End in 1973. O’Brien was born in Britain but moved to New Zealand with his family as a child before eventually returning to his motherland in 1964 as he embarked on following his dreams.
One of the first people that O’Brien became friends with after moving to London was Chrissie Shrimpton, who was in a relationship with Jagger from 1963 until 1966. Through her, O’Brien’s eyes became open to the burgeoning sixties and opened his horizons about what was possible in life.
Speaking with Stuff in 2017, O’Brien recalled: “Chrissie introduced me to the rock-ocracy of the sixties – there wasn’t a better place to be. My life changed… I got more confidence, self-education takes place, I began to read more voraciously. It’s a drip, drip, drip effect.”
Nearly a decade later, The Rocky Horror Show finally became a real stage production, and Jagger stopped by to watch the final night of the initial run. Unfortunately, a costume malfunction would mean that The Stones frontman would go home feeling empty-handed.
“It was astonishing the people who climbed those stairs to see our show,” O’Brien recalled. “On the last night of that run, Elliott Gould and Mick Jagger were turned away because we couldn’t do our last performance. Rocky had got glitter in an uncomfortable region — a swelling took place and the show was cancelled.”
It’s long been rumoured that Jagger was desperate to play the androgynous, Dr Frank N. Furter, but the producers had other ideas. O’Brien even stayed in Jagger’s front room for a period in 1965 when he had nowhere else to stay. Still, even their relationship wasn’t enough for the producers to ditch Tim Curry, who starred in the theatrical productions and brought the role of Furter to life.
Rolling Stone later quizzed producer Lou Adler about whether there was any validity to the rumours of Jagger wanting the role, “Oh, I don’t know,” Adler replied. “I don’t know if he ever seriously would have played it. I’d like to see him do the narrator role in [the remake], though. That would be good. Tim Curry’s look in the movie must have had some influence on [David] Bowie and Mick and a lot of artists at that time.”
Jagger had dipped his toes into the murky world of movies on a few occasions in the years before The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the addition of the frontman in the film would have given it extra notoriety. However, that was never what the story lacked, plus Tim Curry deserved this opportunity, and he put in a performance of the highest order.