» Marianne Faithful Biography
by Marion Phillips - June 5, 2003
"This is the evening of the day,
I sit and watch the children play,
smiling faces I can see but not for me,
I sit and watch as tears go by."
This is how Marianne Faithful's first success back in 1964 starts in a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. An extremely melancholy song for a colored time that ended in darkness and cynicism.
Life In The Fast Lane
In many ways, Faithful's life can be described in the same way. Being born in 1946 in London, she grew up between conflicting parents and until her 17 years old she studied in nun's schools. At that time she met the student and future writer John Dunbar in a party, fell in love with him and at age 19 had a son called Christopher.
It was 1963, and London was at the start of its "Swinging" period, with Rock bands, avant-garde artists and young intellectuals shaping the world to their own dreams. In another party that she went with her husband, she met Andrew Oldham, who was the Rolling Stones manager and who invited her to sing in a record he was producing.
Faithful wasn't the right candidate to become a starlet, being intellectual and unconventional as she was, but after the release of her first single, the above-mentioned "As Tears Go By", an entire legend was made around her.
Things got even more intense when she left her husband for Mick Jagger in 1965 and started a 3-year relationship with him. The Rolling Stones together with The Beatles was the most famous band of England and she inevitably proved of all kinds of excesses.
At age 21 she was a heroin and cocaine addicted, while her success grew in leaps, until in 1967 she had an overdose after swallowing 150 barbiturates in Australia. After a one-week coma, Faithful came back, but even so, went on consuming drugs.
That was when she wrote the "Sister Morphine" lyrics that became a Rolling Stones' success and for a long time was credited as being another Jagger/Richards creation. And that was also when she decided that living in the turmoil that existed around the Rolling Stones was killing her and she started to do everything to finish her relationship with Jagger.
In 1970, she finally broke up with him and abandoned everything to live in a bombed-up site in downtown London, where she could consume her drugs and slowly "vanish" without being annoyed by anyone.
A Slow Rebirth
Years passed, things changed and in 1977 she was invited to make a record that was called "Dreaming my dreams" which made some success in the underground scene of UK. By this time, she had already passed through various attempts to quit the drugs, which didn't last long. In 1979 she released "Broken English" that marked a rebirth in her career and a total change in the style of music she used to make.
Her voice also had changed a lot, having acquired a hoarse, hard timbre, very proper to the kind of music she began to make. But her drug problems continued until 1987, when she at last stopped injecting heroin and got "clean" for lifetime.
This same year, she released the album "Strange Weather" in which she made covers of various artists like Tom Waits and re-recorded "As Tears Go By" with a sound that was very fitting to its haunting lyrics.
Through the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s other albums were released, all of them being better known in the underground scene, making of her a kind of "cult singer". She also did some acting in her career, first in theater and in low cost movies back in the 60's, and in the early 90's she was invited to take part in a musical production of Brecht's "Three penny Opera".
In 1992, she published her autobiography, in which she brings back the spirit of the 60's and 70's and tells in a heartfelt, sincere and good-humored way all things that befell her.
Her latest album is "Kissin' Time", released last year, and she continues as unconventional as ever.
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Copyright © 2003 Marion Phillips