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Where did The Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger learn to dance?


Moves like Jagger’s don’t just materialise out of thin air, such hip-snaking sorcery requires a great deal of practice and patience. It also helps if you happen to tour with the best diva of them all. There is no doubt a multitude of factors that led to Jagger’s iconic style, but who was the definitive influence on his strutting, stuff-shaking, on-stage antics?

One of the most troubled but triumphant live shows of the mid-sixties was the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. The couple rallied up some of the most electrifying chemistry in rock and roll history, sadly coming at a hefty cost. However, when the more abhorrent elements of Ike’s behaviour were sequestered for the live show, the performances were scintillating. 

At one point The Rolling Stones were present amongst the audience at a Los Angeles show and were so impressed by the duo that they asked the Turner’s whether they’d tour with them in England. 

Ike & Tina eagerly agreed and featured as part of The Rolling Stones’ famous live show at the Royal Albert Hall in 1966, a show which also included The Yardbirds with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on lead guitar. Scarcely has there been a greater rock and roll line-up for a concert in history, however, the reverberations for Jagger may have reached even further. 

Speaking to Rolling Stones Magazine, Chris Jagger, Mick’s brother, denoted that the necessary genetics may well have already been in place as he regaled the tale of when he asked the rockstar how his moves came to be. Mick apparently had this to say, “Mum tried to teach me, and we waltzed around the living room to the strains of Victor Sylvester,” he said. “We would trot around the room attempting the steps with me trying not to tread on Mum’s toes.” 

Whilst Chris declares that his mother was a skilled dancer and thus the shapeshifting may well be in their blood, Mick no doubt also picked up a few inspirations from elsewhere. 

“Then we travelled to the USA and caught James Brown at the Apollo Theatre in New York and that was a huge influence,” Jagger explains. “It wasn’t just the moves he made – it was the energy he put into it, that was amazing.”

Those same stamina-defying moves by James Brown were on full display when he crossed paths with Jagger once more on The T.A.M.I Show, during which Brown’s near-artery-bursting performance of ‘Please, Please, Please’ just about wipes the floor with everyone else. 

These early formative experiences in America, at the height of the ‘British Invasion’, sent a clear message to Jagger – ‘if you want to be a full-on rock and roll frontman, you’ll have to up the ante’. 

With this seemingly playing on Jagger’s mind, he searched for guidance on the gyrating front. As Tina Turner told The Daily Mail: “Mick wanted to dance – and I was a dancer – but he never gave me the credit! He said his mother taught him how to dance. But we worked with him in the dressing room, me and the girls, and we taught him how to Pony.” The Pony was the iconic foot-stomping, arm-flailing, move of the ‘60s that took dancefloors and stages by storm. Jagger is no doubt one of the best Pony men in the business and perhaps he has Tina Turner to credit for that. 

The two stars would meet again at Live Aid performance in Philadelphia on July 13th, 1985. Tina Turner burst onto the stage during The Rolling Stones set in typical full-blooded energy. As ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll’ reached its scintillating climax, the singers were pushing the throttle into overdrive, Jagger whipped off his shirt before unclipping Turner’s leather mini-skirt leaving both stars to finish the show in a mid-stage of undress, in what just might be one the most Pony-heavy performances of all time. Aside from the high-jinks, there is also a third revealing factor at play during the duet – the superstars cut very similar shapes up on that stage. 

There is no doubt a plethora of influences behind Jagger’s iconic on-stage style, but it would seem that the key triumvirate consisted of his mother, James Brown and the queen diva herself, Tina Turner; proving behind all the inimitable thrusting and clicking is a hell of a lot of pedigree.