With the best will in the world, the Landestheater in the Austrian city of Linz is not exactly Madison Square Garden.
But for the past four months, this unlikely venue has been a home-from-home for Marianne Faithfull, who is performing here as the lead singer in the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill ballet The Seven Deadly Sins.
And rather than being put up in a plush hotel during her stay, Sixties pop singer Marianne Faithfull has been bunking down in a tiny flat in a nearby tower block to save money.
“Marianne has become part of the community here,” says the theatre’s secretary, Susanne Kuffner.
“You sometimes see her walking around town like a grandma.
“Occasionally, someone will recognize her and ask her to sign an album or a picture from the Sixties and she will stop and talk to them.
“We let her use a little flat that is owned by the theatre because it’s cheaper than a hotel. And because we are state-funded, this is not the place performers come to get rich.”
All in all, it is not, one suspects, what Marianne Faithfull, who turned 66 last week, envisaged her later years would hold when she was the lusted-after poster-girl of the flower power generation – and was dating the most lusted-after poster boy, Mick Jagger.
Certainly, her current plight, scratching a living in one of the more unglamorous corners of Europe, is in glaringly harsh contrast to the exalted position of her Rolling Stone ex.
At the same time as Marianne Faithfull was appearing in front of a few hundred people on stage last month, Mick Jagger was personally earning £4 million ($6 million) for a handful of sell-out concerts in London and America to celebrate his band’s 50th anniversary, with tickets changing hands at £1,000 ($1,500) a time.
But then, the intervening 40-plus years have hardly been kind to Marianne Faithfull. There have been desperate battles with drugs, failed marriages, a fight against cancer and money worries.
Marianne Faithfull, who dated Mick Jagger for 4 years until 1970, admits she has not saved for her old age and must continue to work.
Sometimes it has been a struggle. Recently, during her theatre run, she suffered a severe cold, but muddled through, coughing and looking unsteady. And during an ovation, one of her backing dancers, young men dressed only in skimpy leather shorts, had to support her to make sure she did not fall.
Of all Mick Jagger’s women, Marianne Faithfull, perhaps, has had the furthest fall from grace. But, as she admitted in a candid magazine interview this week, it could all have been so different today if she had stayed with Mick Jagger.
She says she blames the collapse of their relationship and her subsequent spectacular downfall on the events of one night in February, 1967 – the night when Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger were caught up in the notorious drugs bust at Redlands, the country home of Mick’s Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards.
What happened there has since gone down in the annals of rock ’n’ roll mythology and, according to Marianne Faithfull, is the reason she is not with Mick Jagger today.
“That drugs raid really damaged me,” Marianne Faithfull told Q magazine.
“It damaged our relationship, and [four years later] I was living on the street as a drug addict. Do I blame anyone or anything for that? I do blame the Redlands thing, yes.”
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were arrested, eventually receiving stiff jail sentences, which were later quashed – but overnight, Redlands turned Mick Jagger’s 20-year-old girlfriend into the most infamously scarlet women in the land.
There were tales of drugs galore and, famously, of Marianne Faithfull being discovered naked, save for the fur rug she was wrapped in – not to mention salacious rumors involving Marianne and a Mars bar.
So what really happened on that fateful night that Marianne Faithfull still blames for her downfall today?
Perhaps we should start a few weeks after the bust, when a notorious East End thug called David Litvinoff and another renowned London villain, John Bindon, arranged to meet one of the more colorful figures of the flower power generation for what they euphemistically called “a little chat”.
As was often the case, however, when the brutish duo came calling, there was precious little polite conversation on offer.
Instead, the man they had come to visit, Nicky Cramer – a rather fey member of the trendy Chelsea set with a taste for lurid make-up, who had attended the Redlands party – would spend much of the encounter being dangled by his ankles from the upstairs window of his flat, his garish robe billowing, like drying washing, around his ears.
The hard men had deployed their unrivalled powers of persuasion on Nicky Cramer in a bid to discover if he was the mole who tipped off police for the Redlands bust.
David Litvinoff, who as well as being an underworld enforcer was Mick Jagger’s pet gangster, had taken it upon himself to track down the police’s informant.
“After the bust, no one knew who had fingered them. David Litvinoff applied some of his East End methods to see who was culpable,” said eminent artist Nigel Waymouth, who is a long-time friend of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull.
“Nicky was terrified because Litvinoff had a few dealings with the Kray brothers, helping them run their gambling joint on the King’s Road.”
In fact, after giving the terrified Nicky Cramer a thorough beating, David Litvinoff and John Bindon declared the poor chap innocent. The true informant was never found – but whoever they were they had trashed Marianne Faithfull’s image for good.
Her career as the sweet-voiced chanteuse, whose blonde, almost beatific looks, had beguiled Britain and the United States, never recovered from the scandal.
Don Rambridge, one of the surviving policemen, who was part of the search team that night, now retired and in his mid-70s, retains the policeman’s forensic memory for the events of nearly half a century ago.
And, once and for all, he can put an end to the infamous Mars bar story.
He was one of 18 Sussex officers acting on a tip-off that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, plus five male friends and Marianne Faithfull – the lone female – were involved in a drugs party at the house at which “Sunshine”, a new form of LSD, was being taken.
But what they found was not exactly the scene of rabid excess that has since gone into rock ’n’ roll folklore.
“We knocked on the door and were allowed in and wandered around,” remembers Don Rambridge.
“There was no hassle and everyone was quite affable. The house was very garish and stank of incense and joss sticks. And Mick, Keith, Marianne and the others were just sitting around on the couch.
“She had just had a bath and was naked except for this fur rug she was wrapped in. The blokes who were on the raid with me talked about it afterwards and said: <<Cor, bloody hell. She had nothing on!>>.”
Indeed, after DC Don Rambridge had taken one of the other house guests, art dealer Robert Fraser, upstairs to search him, Marianne Faithfull – who herself was being led up the staircase by a WPC – suddenly declared “Search me”, let the rug drop, and stood naked in front of the astonished officers.
For their part, both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who had by then achieved world renown as the quintessential rock degenerates, were politeness itself.
“Mick and Keith were nice and no problem at all,” says Don Rambridge.
“They seemed well brought-up, bright young lads.”
And what of that notorious chocolate bar story? A myth, says the ex-detective.
“I think Marianne got a bit of a raw deal because what was being said about her was not true,” he says.
“I don’t know where the hell that stuff about a Mars bar came from. It was a shock to me and the other officers who were there.”
Mick Jagger, then 23, was charged with possession of four amphetamine “uppers” (the drugs actually belonged to Marianne Faithfull) and Keith Richards was accused of allowing his home to be used for drugs use.
At their trial in June 1967, Marianne Faithfull, who escaped prosecution, was referred to throughout as “Miss X”, although her identity – and the stories of her nakedness – was an open secret.
The convent-educated Marianne Faithfull had first been introduced to Mick Jagger by the Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who spotted the budding 18-year-old singer at a party in London and pronounced her “an angel with big t**s”.
Born plain Marian, she was from an eccentric family. Her father, Major Robert Glynn Faithfull, a British wartime spy, walked out when his daughter was six to join a commune.
Her mother, Baroness Eva Erisso, the descendent of a once-rich Austro-Hungarian aristocratic family, had been reduced to working as a bus clippy during Marianne Faithfull’s childhood in Reading.
Andrew Loog Oldham persuaded Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to write the hit As Tears Go By for Marianne Faithfull in 1964, but it would be two years before she began an affair with Mick.
In the meantime, Marianne Faithfull had a fling with the womanizing Stones guitarist Brian Jones and spent a night of passion with Keith Richards at the May Fair hotel in London.
Marianne Faithfull soon progressed to sleeping with Mick Jagger, despite the fact that she was married to gallery owner John Dunbar and had given birth to their son, Nicholas.
As would become a recurring theme in the predatory Mick Jagger’s romantic affiliations, the presence of another man did not put him off.
Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image, Marianne Faithfull was also already well known on London’s nascent drug scene.
While Mick Jagger never more than dabbled with hard drugs, Marianne Faithfull steadily progressed from cannabis to cocaine and eventually to heroin, with embarrassing consequences for the socially-ambitious Jagger.
At a lavish dinner, thrown in their honor by the Earl of Warwick at his castle, Marianne Faithfull passed out, face down in her soup after popping five Mandrax “downers”.
Marianne Faithfull fell pregnant, but the prospect of fatherhood did little to curb Mick Jagger’s already priapic ways.
He had a fling with Keith Richards’ beautiful Italian girlfriend Anita Pallenberg while they were appearing together in the graphically sexual 1968 film Performance (in retaliation for which Marianne Faithfull and Keith Richards slept together again).
Nonetheless, Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger made excited plans for the baby. They both wanted a girl and decided to call her Corrina.
But in November 1968, Marianne Faithfull suffered a miscarriage at seven months. The loss of the baby combined with Mick Jagger’s brazen infidelities, including rumors (well-founded as it transpired) that he was sleeping with black American singer Marsha Hunt, sent Marianne Faithfull into a tailspin.
Her drug use became increasingly self-destructive.
Critical mass was reached the following summer, when she and Mick Jagger flew to Sydney to film his next acting role, in the much-derided biopic Ned Kelly.
On her arrival at their hotel, Marianne Faithfull looked in the bathroom mirror and, in her drug-addled state, thought she saw the face of Stones guitarist Brian Jones looking back at her (Jones, a fellow drug addict, had been found dead in his swimming pool just days earlier).
After trying to throw herself out of the window of their 14th-floor suite only to find the heavy coat of paint had sealed the window, Marianne Faithfull swallowed 150 Tuinal barbiturates.
Mick Jagger found her and she was rushed to hospital where she remained in a coma for six days.
She was given the last rites by a Roman Catholic priest. While she lay at death’s door, the heartless Mick jagger had already begun filming scenes for the movie.
Her drug addiction continued to spiral. She took to having wraps of heroin delivered to London’s Roundhouse theatre where she was playing Ophelia in Hamlet in 1969.
The relationship limped on, but Marianne Faithfull, jealous over Mick Jagger’s ongoing affair with Marsha Hunt and continued rumors about his flirtation with Anita Pallenberg, began an affair with an Italian artist called Mario Schifano.
With his male pride bruised, Mick Jagger tracked the lovers down to the cottage he had bought for Marianne Faithfull’s mother in the village of Aldworth, Berkshire, and confronted them.
That night, Mick Jagger slept with Marianne Faithfull upstairs while the vanquished Mario Schifano – who was given his marching orders by her the following day – had to settle for the living room sofa.
But after four years together, the relationship finally imploded in 1970 and Marianne Faithfull moved out of the grand house she and Mick Jagger had shared in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.
Her subsequent decline was swift and brutal. Now hopelessly addicted to heroin, she lost custody of her son Nicholas, and within months she was living on the street. She slept rough for two years in a seedy alley in Soho.
In interviews, Marianne Faithfull has said that even at her lowest ebb Jagger tried to get her back. Extraordinarily, she claims that she hacked off her blonde locks and put on three stone in weight to deter him.
However, Californian model Catherine James, who had soon taken over her role as Mick Jagger’s live-in girlfriend, remembers things differently.
“Marianne used to call Mick even though they had split up,” said Catherine James.
“She came over to the house when I was there. I certainly didn’t get the impression she was trying to get him to understand she didn’t want him anymore. I got the impression she very much wanted to see him.
“But Mick was never excited when she was coming over or when she called. She was very high on drugs and he wanted to get rid of her.”
His offhand treatment of her is classic Mick Jagger. Still in the grip of her addictions, Marianne Faithfull went on to marry punk rocker Ben Brierly in 1979, but the marriage ended in divorce seven years later.
In 1985, she checked into the Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota, whose previous patients have included Eric Clapton, in a bid to get clean.
But tragedy was never far away. She began a relationship with a fellow addict in rehab, American Howard Tose – only for him to throw himself to his death from the window of their 14th floor apartment in Boston after Marianne Faithfull announced she wanted to split up.
A third, brief marriage followed when Marianne Faithfull wed American writer Giorgio Della Terza in 1988. They divorced after three years.
Returning to music in the late Seventies, Marianne Faithfull has made a succession of often critically lauded albums and has dabbled with acting.
Now clean, Marianne Faithfull lives in a bohemian existence on a prestigious boulevard close to the British Consulate on the Right Bank of Paris and has another home in County Waterford, Ireland.
She has also resurrected her once broken relationship with her son, Nicholas, a financial journalist.
In 2009, Marianne Faithfull split from her lover of 15 years, Frenchman Francois Ravard, who still acts as her manager. He had helped nurse her through breast cancer treatment in 2005.
As she came around from surgery in a Parisian hospital, the phone ran at 2:00 a.m. and her ex Mick Jagger was on the line checking up on her.
She says: “This voice came on: <<Hello, Marian, how are you?>> I’d know that voice anywhere, and he’s the only one who ever called me Marian. We had a chat. It was lovely.”
Although they have met very occasionally, it was the first time in 35 years they had properly spoken on the phone.
This week, Marianne Faithfull was in a reflective mood, saying: “I could’ve stayed with Mick and he did love me, but I couldn’t bear it, that world. I just felt not good enough. Low self-esteem. All the things a drug addict feels.
“But I don’t think I would’ve felt like that if the drugs bust hadn’t happened. I think we would’ve been fine. Would we have been together today? I don’t know. Why not?”