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Who Was The Rolling Stones' 'Angie?' Theories About Her Identity

Music | July 24, 2018

Left: Angie Dickinson in 'Rio Bravo' (1959); center: single sleeve for the Rolling Stones' 'Angie,' 1973; right: Angela Merkel in 2011. Sources: IMDB; discogs.com; Wikimedia Commons

The 1973 acoustic ballad "Angie" by the Rolling Stones shot to the top of the charts when it was released on the group’s Goats Head Soup album. In fact, it is the band’s only ballad to hit #1 in the United States. “Angie,” written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, was different than the hard, aggressive sound that fans were used to with The Rolling Stones. The public was captivated by the tune. Part of the allure of the song was the mystery in evoked. Who was Angie? There have been many theories circulating that try to answer that question. 

Was David Bowie’s First Wife the Inspiration for 'Angie?'

David Bowie with his wife Angie. Source: Pinterest

British singer David Bowie, a contemporary of The Rolling Stones, was influencing music and pop culture with his unique brand of music and his outrageous styles. From 1970 to 1980, he was married to an American actress, model, and journalist, Angela Barnett Bowie, who herself was a fashion icon of the seventies. Angie Bowie often claimed to be the muse to Richards and Jagger’s “Angie”, but both Stones band members have continuously denied her claim. 

Did Angie Bowie Bribe The Rolling Stones To Write Her A Song?

According to rumor and speculation, Angie Bowie once walked in on her husband, David Bowie, in bed with a naked Mick Jagger. She promised to keep quiet about the gay tryst if the Rolling Stones would write her a song. Bowie was known to be bisexual and Angie Bowie was open and accepting of his lifestyle, so that part of the rumor seems plausible. But if Angie Bowie wanted a song, she could have asked her own husband to write one for her. Besides, Jagger only contributed a little to the writing of the song. Keith Richards wrote most of it. 

Was 'Angie' An Ode to Keith Richards’ Daughter?

On April 17, 1972, Keith Richards and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg welcomed a daughter named Dandelion Angela Richards into the world. On and off through the years, Richards claims to have written “Angie” for his baby daughter. But equally as often, he claims the name in the iconic song was simply picked at random. 

Was 'Angie' Penned For Actress Angie Dickinson?

Sexy blonde actress Angie Dickinson was at the height of her popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. She was known for dating celebrity men and even had affairs with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and (perhaps) John F. Kennedy, though at the time "Angie" was released she was married to Burt Bacharach. Many people speculate that the sultry actress, best known for TV’s Police Woman, inspired the Rolling Stones' song. 

Was 'Angie' Actually Mick Jagger's Ex, Marianne Faithfull?

Marianne Faithfull performing on the Dutch TV program Fanclub on 17 September 1966. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The singer, songwriter and actress Marianne Faithfull was with Mick Jagger from 1966-70, and it's said that what Mick contributed to the lyrics of "Angie" was done with Faithfull in mind. But "Angie" is one of those Jagger-Richards songs that is considered to be mostly Keith's. If Mick's contribution included some sentiment derived from his relationship with Faithfull, fine, but it's Keith's song.

Secondly, Marianne Faithfull is acknowledged as (or rumored to have been) the inspiration for "Sympathy for the Devil," "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Wild Horses," "I Got the Blues," "She Smiled Sweetly," "Winter," "She's Like a Rainbow," "100 Years Ago," and "Let's Spend the Night Together." It's safe to say that if anyone is sick of songs about Mick's ex-girlfriend, it's Keith Richards and the rest of the Stones. Unless we find a quote where Jagger claims authorship and says "Angie" was about Faithfull, let's not say that's the case just because it is for so many other songs.

Was 'Angie' About German Chancellor Angela Merkel?

Angela Merkel with her first husband in 1975. Source: Pinterest

This is an absurd idea, sure. But it's not because Angela Merkel is an older woman and not suitable for a Rolling Stones song. She was young once -- in fact she's 11 years younger than both Mick and Keith. In 1973, when "Angie" came out, Angela Dorothea Kasner was a 19-year-old college coed, studying chemistry at Karl Marx University in Leipzig, East Germany.

While the Stones would normally not even have to mention "Angie" and Angela Merkel in the same sentence, the future chancellor started playing the song as her outro music at campaign events in 2005, and the band objected. "We didn't grant permission," said a spokesman. "We are surprised that permission was not requested. If it had been, we would have said no." Merkel's people said that Gema, which handled rights issues for the Rolling Stones' catalog in Germany, had said it was not necessary to get permission. (Ten years later, Donald Trump would use "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as his walk-off theme while campaigning to become president. The Stones again objected, but perhaps having learned their lesson, conceded they couldn't do anything about it.)

Was There No Angie?

While the world wonders just who was the woman behind the Rolling Stone’s song, there is a good chance that the answer is no one. Richards often stated that he used the name Angie only because it flowed well with his other lyrics, and because it was a popular name of the time. The song became one of the band’s biggest hits and a favorite song at concerts. Although it was a departure from their other tunes, “Angie” turned out to be The Rolling Stones’ best girl. 

Tags: 1973 | Angie Dickinson | David Bowie | Keith Richards | Mick Jagger | Rare Facts And Stories About History | The 1970s | The Rolling Stones

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.