Created by rock superstar Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and movie mogul Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Boardwalk Empire), HBO’s new drama Vinyl tells the story of the music industry in the 1970s.
Set in New York in 1973, the series spotlights the fictional company American Century Records and its founder and president, Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire), who is trying to save his business, which is in turmoil with the dawn of punk, disco and hip-hop taking over the music scene.
Mick Jagger came to the TV Critics tour, via satellite, to talk about his new series with Martin Scorsese, which premieres on HBO on February 14th 2016.
How did this project come about?
The genesis of this really was that I had an idea years ago that I took to Marty and asked him what he thought, and we tried to develop it as a movie.
We developed it and developed it. We wrote scripts. It was a very sprawling idea.
When TV series started to become interesting, respectable and money?making, we decided to make a TV series of it. That’s how it began.
You came into the business as an artist, and you would have become a businessman at some point. In 1973 were you super involved in the Stones’ business?
Yeah, I was really involved because we got really screwed in the ’60s. So I had to become involved as the ’60s went on and it became the ’70s.
I got really involved in record companies and how they worked and who was good, who was bad, who paid who, who screwed who, who ended up with the money. So yeah, I got involved.
Your son James is in the show. Can you talk about advice or any guidance you gave him?
I didn’t really tell him anything. I encouraged him, made sure he was feeling comfortable about it, you know, confidence?building and all of that sort of thing.
I kind of left him to his own devices. We talked a little bit about the back story, different back stories that he could invent about the character.
We talked a little bit about that. We talked a little bit about that era, about the attitudes and so on, but most of it I left to him, so it’s his invention, not mine.
For the songs that you wrote for this, did you enjoy writing in a different style or was it in a Mick Jagger/Rolling Stones?style song?
I didn’t really write that much. I just helped my son James with one song and just fill in a few lines here and there at the beginning.
The combination of the new and old music, and the combination of real characters and the characters that Terry (Winter, the series Executive Producer/Co-Creator) created for the series are really interesting.
We had a lot of chats about how would this work? We’d have real people, we would have David Bowie. We’d have Led Zeppelin.
Then we’d invent people. How would we integrate these people, the real people and the fictional people? That was a really interesting concept and piece of the writing.
Many think of the genre of rock as dead, being marginalized by the industry and hip?hop culture. Do you think a show like Vinyl could possibly restore rock music as a dominant force in pop culture?
I have no idea. I mean, it’s a good TV show. It’s a drama show. I don’t know what’s going to happen in music.
When you think back to the days that you started making music in your teens and the sheer joy that that gave you, how different is it than the joy you get out of making music today?
It’s the same thing for me. The great thing about music is that, as opposed to making a TV series, you can do it on your own.
Reflecting back, what was the first concert you ever went to?
The first concert I remember going to was Buddy Holly in South London, and the other one I can remember was John Lee Hooker when I was about, I don’t know,15 or something.
What was the first record you ever bought?
The first record I ever bought, I think, was “Teenager in Love” by Frankie Lymon. I still feel it.
What’s the status of the new Stones music? How does it feel to be recording again? How are you guys getting along?
Fine. Everything is good, and we are just about to go on tour in South America, and I’m so looking forward to that.
Mick Jagger Soundbyte
Mick Jagger was asked what he admired about his producing partner, Martin Scorsese. Click hear to listen to his reply.