Sir Mick Jagger on his Dartford roots, his lifelong buddy Keith Richards and why fans still flock to stand on Platform Two of the local train station

Great British Life: Mick Jagger with childhood mate Keith RichardsMick Jagger with childhood mate Keith Richards (Image: Archant)

Dartford is famous all over the world and tourists flock to see the local school, the railway station and the streets that were once trodden by two of the most famous feet in the history of music.

The owner of those feet never forgets where he came from and proudly talks about Dartford in many of his worldwide interviews. That man is Sir Mick Jagger, need we say more?

Of course, Mick is not alone in his Darford origins and his international fame. His long-term pal and fellow Rolling Stone Keith Richards also still flies the flag for his home town and county, but since Mick is in constant demand for interviews, it is his voice which is heard the most and he has never failed to give credit to his roots.

“Keith and I knew each other at Wentworth Primary School and lived near each other in Dartford. I was with my Mum and Dad in Denver Road and Keith was in Chastilian Road so we were just round the corner from each other.

“We didn’t really have that much in common, but we were class mates and used to play together. Even in the early days we didn’t particularly like the same music.

“I remember that Keith was into cowboys and he was a big fan of Roy Rogers because he played the guitar. I was more into Glen Miller and that kind of stuff because that was what was on the radio when I was growing up.

Great British Life: Sir Mick Jagger: still got it at 76Sir Mick Jagger: still got it at 76 (Image: Archant)

“We came from different backgrounds. My Dad was a PE teacher and a fitness expert who trained me as a kid. I had to do loads of exercises every day. You get used to that kind of thing but there were times I hated it. Thinking back he did me a favour in many ways because touring really takes it out of you if you are not fit.

“I always sang when I was a kid. I was playing at being a pop star, I just liked singing. I was in the church choir and loved it – any chance to sing, I would sing almost anything. I still do enjoy it. Some people sing and it becomes a job, to me it is just a way of expressing something and letting your voice be a musical instrument.

“When we took the 11+ exam I passed and went to Dartford Grammar School while Keith went to Dartmouth Technology College. I’d also moved with the family to Wilmington on the outskirts of Dartford, so we didn’t see any more of each other until a few years later when we bumped into each other at Dartford railway station.

“We were both about 15 at the time and we had a bit of a chat. I was carrying some records of rhythm and blues which fascinated Keith. He was still into country music although we both liked a bit of rock ‘n roll of course.

“We started to go to each other’s houses to play records and once when we were at Keith’s he picked up a guitar and started playing. I thought it was great and told him that I sang a bit. That sounds like it was the start but it wasn’t really.

“I got some exam passes and went to the London School of Economics. My parents were thrilled and very proud of what I was doing. It all changed when we met Brian Jones and he told us he was putting a band together. He called the band The Rolling Stones. We joined, played about once a month for nothing and than started getting an occasional – very occasional – paid gig.

“We started to get a little bit of a following and I had to choose between staying at the LSE or becoming a singer with the band – or group, as it was called then.

“My Mum and Dad were horrified when I chose to leave the LSE but it turned out for the best and they were very happy once things got going properly.

“I think growing up in Kent was good for us. We were away from London but close enough to get a lot of the musical influences.

“Dartford was a pretty good place to be. There was always a lot going on and there still is. I have no regrets about my growing up years at all.

“I was into sport and played football, basketball and a bit of cricket while I was at school. I think I looked a bit different to everyone else in those days but that wasn’t a bad thing. I did at least get noticed by girls, although I wasn’t too bothered. I had my own thoughts and my own way of life. I was never someone who needed to run with the pack.

“I am told that fans have worked out the very spot where Keith and I met up at Dartford Railway Station after not seeing each other for a few years. People go and stand on the spot on Platform Two. I think that’s funny but I am flattered just the same. It’s nice if people like your music so much that they want to visit your roots.”

The Mick Jagger Centre at his old Dartford Grammar School has also been a delight to Mick.

“I was really blown away when they asked to name it after me,” he says. “I went to the official opening and said a few words. I was really impressed and put a few quid towards it. I especially like the Red Rooster project which helps kids learn to play musical instruments. I love to see that.

“I’ve been back for informal visits since it opened and I really love the place. I still like to look around Dartford now and then and look up old friends and family. It’s funny to think that people will come from the USA and Japan and other parts of the world and get a thrill out of seeing where Keith and I went to school, but at the same time I get as big a thrill when I see those places too. It brings it all back – I remember how we used to listen to Elvis and Gene Vincent and want to do what they did.

“Kent was the lauching pad for me and in some ways it seems like a long time ago that we were going to primary school in Dartford but at the same time it seems like only yesterday.

I’m grateful to the teachers and everyone that put up with us in those early days and I still have roots in the area.

“If anyone asks me where The Rolling Stones come from, I am always pleased to be able to say ‘Dartford’ and tell them all about it. Dartford is probably more famous than it realises.”