Anita Pallenberg was the actress and model who became a Rolling Stones muse in the ’60s and a longtime partner of the band’s guitarist, Keith Richards, with whom she lived for twelve years.
Pallenberg was born in 1944 in German-occupied Rome to a German mother and an Italian father. She was kicked out of boarding school at the age of sixteen and went to work as a model, traveling through Europe and the United States, before arriving at Andy Warhol’s factory. She met the Rolling Stones at a concert in Munich in 1965, as she recalled in a later interview “I was modeling in Germany and the photographer said ‘Do you want to come to a concert?’ .. . that kind of commercial and they were there … ”After the concert, she offered Brian Jones hashish and they returned to his hotel room, starting a two-year relationship.
However, while on vacation in Morocco, when Keith Richards saw Jones act violently towards Pallenberg, he intervened and traveled with her to London. She and Richards were a couple in 1967 for twelve years and had three children together. Jones died in 1969.
His first film roles include The Great Tyrant in Barbarella (1968) and as Pherber in the cult drama Performance (1970), around the time his heroin addiction first took hold. When she and Richards were arrested for drug possession by customs officers in Canada in 1977 and Richards faced a life sentence, the group’s future was on the line. But by opting for rehab , Pallenberg and Richards sought to demonstrate that they had “cleaned up” themselves and managed to avoid jail.
Pallenberg’s impact on the Stones goes far beyond that of a simple “groupie”. She played an active role in shaping their look and sound, as music critic Nick Kent noted: “Anita’s influence on Keith was instantaneous. He started wearing his scarves, blouses, jackets and jewelry … Anita encouraged Keith to apply black kohl under his eyes and wear lipstick and nail polish. She acknowledged her role, once saying “I feel more like the sixth Rolling Stone”, and adding, “Mick, Keith and Brian need me to guide them, criticize them and give them ideas. ”
Pallenberg provided the backing vocals, along with Marianne Faithfull, for the Stones’ classic track “Sympathy for the Devil”, which appeared on their 1968 album, Beggars banquet. She also appeared in Jean-Luc Godard’s documentary on the group, titled after the song and released the same year.
Later in her life, she resumed her studies as a mature student, completing a four-year fashion course in 1994 at Central Saint Martins in London, her adopted home.
Her friend Stella Schnabel said in tribute “I have never met a woman quite like you Anita. I don’t think there is anyone in this universe like you … We all sing for you, as you loved him. Go in peace my Roman mother, you will always be in my heart.
Anita Pallenberg: born January 25, 1944; passed away on June 13, 2017.