Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, and this latest one is nearly as juicy as the one about 90s record label executives hatching a plot to use gangsta rap to line the US’s prisons with impressionable youths in order to get rich.
Rock’s longest running institution, The Rolling Stones, are this year celebrating a half-century of their influential tunes (and debauchery), including a brand new career-spanning compilation which will feature two new recordings, those ever-present tour rumours and rolling out a gorilla in 50 cities worldwide for an innovative new marketing campaign.
But now interesting new reports suggest that British and American authorities nearly stopped all of that from happening, with a new biography on lily-lipped frontman Mick Jagger claiming that MI5 and the FBI corroborated a planned attack to sabotage the band’s career.
Classic Rock reports that within the pages of author Philip Norman’s new tome, simply titled Mick Jagger, he proclaims that the infamous 1967 Redlands raid – where the band were busted for drugs and Marianne Faithful was found wrapped in a rug with a Mars Bar placed where it shouldn’t be – was the result of a carefully orchestrated-orchestrated plot to unstick the band’s career.
The 1967 police raid on Keith Richards’ Redlands home failed in its objectives to ruin the band’s career , despite Jagger and Richards both spending a stint in the slammer as a result of investigations, but the wooly conspiracy begins with the author telling The Daily Mail that the raid was “was part of a plot by MI5 and the FBI” who enlisted drug dealer David Snyderman “known to the Stones as ‘Acid King Dave’” to infiltrate the band’s inner sanctum and act as a police informant.
Sydnerman, a washed up TV actor, was forced into co-operation after being threatened with incarceration by British authorities. “At Heathrow Airport he was caught with drugs in his luggage. British Customs handed him over to some ‘heavy people’ who hinted they belonged to MI5 and told him there was a ‘way out’ of his predicament,” says Norman.
His ‘way out’ was to infiltrate the Stones’ close circles and become the band’s drug dealer – with the aim of making sure they were arrested in possession of illegal substances.
But wait, it gets stranger. Apparently the whole plot was cooked up by the FBI, who wanted to make sure that a drug conviction would ensure the Stones were barred entry to the US.
Synderman allegedly told the Mick Jagger author, that MI5 were operating on behalf of FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program COINTELPRO, set up by the famous Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover in the 1920s to “protect national security and maintain the existing social and political order.”
Come 1967, and the meteoric rise of the Rolling Stones, COINTELPRO was focussing its resources on the subversive counterculture that was rock music on America’s youth demographic, particularly those of the British invasion – including the Beatlemania that was sweeping the nation, and especially the Stones, who were marketed as the ‘dirty’ alternative to the clean-cut moptops. Making them a target for the FBI’s investigations.
Cut to the Redlands raid, and the author recounts how the ‘Acid King’ arrived at Richards’ unassuming cottage home with a suitcase full of drugs, knowing that the police force were set to pounce on their trap, but despite the convictions handed down to Jagger and Richards in the aftermath of the raid, they were not serious enough to prevent the Stones from being permitted to tour America, break it, and subsequently become one of the longest-running bands in rock history.
Following the ’67 Redlands events, Synderman fled the UK, says Norman, complete with his drugs stash. “He had done everything asked of him, and afterwards changed his identity – but his reward was a lifetime of fear.”
“For the rest of his days he half-expected those heavy people who’d spirited him out of the country to come after him to make sure he never did blow his cover,” says Norman.
Batty conspiracy? or the origins of an alternate reality where the Rolling Stones never reached their illustrious 50th Anniversary?
Speaking of the band’s five-decade achievements, those ever-present tour rumours continue to mount; and while nothing has yet been confirmed, guitarist Keith Richards has also fuelled enthusiastic rumours of a possible world trot, hintingto the BBC, ”we’re playing around with the idea and had a couple of rehearsals – we’ve got together and it feels so good.”
Adding that, “there might be life in the old dog yet – we’ll die gracefully, elegantly wasted.”