She was the muse for the Rolling Stones – New York Post


It was 1979 and the Rolling Stones looked ready to surge. Mick Jagger had ended his tumultuous marriage to his wife Bianca. Keith Richards was riding out the miraculously lenient one-year probation sentence for his heroin bust in Canada. The band was riding high from its most recent album, “Some Girls,” along with the hit single “Miss You,” having topped the charts the previous year.

But while Richards was recording new music in Paris, his longtime paramour and the mother of three of his children, Anita Pallenberg — who died this past Tuesday at age 75 due to hepatitis C complications — was nearing the bottom of a dark and downward spiral in a sylvan suburb of New York City.

Strung out on heroin and shockingly bloated, the actress and model retained psychological wounds from the 1976 death of the couple’s 10-week-old son Tara due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The once-mesmerizing stunner — who stole the hearts of both Richards and his former bandmate Brian Jones, and who supposedly engaged in an affair with Jagger as well — was wooing a 17-year-old high school dropout, Scott Cantrell.

While it sounds like a step down for Pallenberg, there are thoughts that she could temper her instinct no more than a black widow spider could dissuade itself from biting. “Anita seduced everybody. She was so powerful that very few people were immune,” said Robert Greenfield, who lived with Pallenberg and Richards while writing the book “Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones.” “There was her extraordinary physical beauty and the sharpness of her mind. She was crazy and beautiful and crazy beautiful.”

But no one could have predicted that the teen would wind up dead in Pallenberg’s bed.

The seduction of Cantrell took place at Frog Hollow, the two-story home that the rock ’n’ roll couple rented in South Salem, NY, in Westchester County. The 19th-century manse was one of several residences they had around the world. They decamped there in 1977 with their then-8-year-old son, Marlon, after Richards’ drug bust. Victor Bockris, author of the book “Keith Richards: The Biography,” went there to interview Richards that year. “There were five of Frank Sinatra’s bodyguards at Frog Hollow — they were Italian meatballs in Hawaiian shirts who looked completely out of place,” he said. The muscle had been hired by the Stones’ management company to make sure Richards stayed off heroin. “[He and Pallenberg] had lost control of their lives.”

By the summer of 1979, Cantrell, who lived with his father in Norwalk, Conn., was working at Frog Hollow as a groundskeeper. Richards was rarely around. For all intents and purposes, the guitarist had moved on; he even reportedly had a new girlfriend, Swedish model Lil Wenglass Green.

In light of that, said Bockris, “Anita flaunted Cantrell. But he was a nasty kid. He used to tell Marlon that he was going to shoot Keith. Yet there he was, a 17-year-old boy with a woman out of shape and raggedy-looking. He thought it was cool to be with Keith Richards’ wife. She referred to him as her boyfriend.

“But, by that point, [Anita] was immobilized by drugs. [By then,] Keith had taken the black-box cure: Wires attached to each ear sent electronic pulses that reduced the pain of withdrawal.”

On the night of July 20, Cantrell and Pallenberg were hanging out in a second-floor bedroom at Frog Hollow, and he was messing around with Richards’ .38-caliber Smith & Wesson. As Pallenberg puttered around, tidying up and watching TV, Cantrell shot himself in the head.

Scott CantrellNew York Post

Bockris believes that Cantrell was playing Russian roulette and lost. “He was aping ‘The Deer Hunter,’ ” said the author, referring to the 1978 movie in which characters portrayed by Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken play the deadly game. “There was blood all over the place. [For Pallenberg] to let a kid lie next to her in the bed and fool around with guns is pretty weird. She had authority over him. She could have told him to put it down, and she didn’t do that. It shows how out of it she was.”

A family friend whisked away Pallenberg and Richards’ son Marlon, who was almost 10 at the time and had been downstairs when the shooting happened. Police brought in Pallenberg for questioning. But any charges considered against her were destined to go nowhere. “Keith says he was determined that Anita not go to jail, which means that he put his lawyers and money on it,” said Bockris. “The [Cantrell] family tried to sue, but the case got quashed.”

Multiple parties had reason to make the killing go away and, as Pallenberg related to Bockris in his book, Richards showed little sympathy for the dead boy: “[Richards] didn’t say anything about the guy. He just got annoyed with my negligence, being so sloppy and flopped out. He just said, ‘Oh, you managed to lose a piece, didn’t you?’ I thought that was very hard, because it was a not a life, just a gun that had gone with the police that he was concerned about.”

The incident pretty much marked the end of Richards’ and Pallenberg’s already-tarnished romance. But the couple did have one final fling in a New York City hotel. “I was really overweight,” she told Bockris, “and I really didn’t think he liked me, but I guess he loved me because he wanted to make love to me. But I didn’t feel worth it for him. I said, ‘You bring out the worst in me.’ ”

It wasn’t always that way. Pallenberg was the sixth Stone. Way more than a groupie, she influenced the Rolling Stones and transformed them at a time when they were ripe for her kind of witchy alchemy. “She gave the Stones so much,” said Greenfield.

‘There was blood all over the place. [For Pallenberg] to let a kid lie next to her in the bed and fool around with guns is pretty weird. She had authority over him.’-Victor Bockris

Born in Rome to a poor family, Pallenberg jumped into the modeling world at age 16 after she was kicked out of boarding school.

She met [guitarist] Brian Jones backstage after a Hamburg, Germany, gig in 1965, when the Stones were flying high with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” topping the charts.

“She was continental, high society, low society,” Greenfield said. “She taught Brian how to dress. She made Jagger and Keith into rock stars.”

A veteran of Andy Warhol’s Factory and an actress who had scene-stealing roles in the films “Barbarella” and “Candy,” Pallenberg imbued the Stones with a level of worldliness. Jones was the first to be smitten with her, and it showed immediately. “She and Brian dressed alike; they were gender-benders before the term existed,” said Greenfield. “And she could hang with the Rolling Stones when they were getting high” — taking drugs with the same gusto as the band members. “I don’t know of any [other] woman able to manage that.”

During an ill-fated 1967 trip to Morocco, during which Jones beat Pallenberg about the face, Richards spirited her away. Jones grew increasingly alienated from his fellow band members and was found facedown in a swimming pool on July 3, 1969. Richards and Pallenberg were together for 13 years, from 1967 until 1980.

Her impact on him was easy to spot. “Keith was a shy guy before he met Anita,” said Bockris. “He was the least known member of the band; he never got interviewed. All of a sudden, he’s wearing makeup and getting his hair done in the right places.”

Anita Pallenberg and Mick Jagger on the set of film ‘Performance.’Redferns/Getty Images

On the 1971 recording of the album “Exile on Main Street” at a mansion in France, “she ran the whole house,” said Bockris. “She ran the lawyers and musicians and drug dealers. Keith was able to focus on music. Anita was his real soul mate . . . but he would have died if he stayed with her.”

Indeed, darkness tinged their romance. “They were outlaws who lived outside of society,” said Greenfield. Underscoring the point, they all but publicized their drug use: In one famous photo, Richards looks gloriously wasted, with the Coke insignia sewn onto his jacket, posing alongside a sign pleading for “a drug free America.”

Pallenberg “used [heroin] while she was pregnant” — with daughter Dandelion, who was born in 1972 — Greenfield added.

Amazingly, “she gave birth to a healthy baby in a [rehab] clinic in Switzerland.” Soon after, Dandelion (who now goes by Angela) was given to Richards’ mother to be raised in England when Pallenberg was deemed too drug-addled for the responsibility.

Anita Pallenberg in Paris, France, 2011.Getty Images/WireImage

Pallenberg’s luck ran out in South Salem but Richards never forgot what she had done for him. Throughout the rest of her life, he reportedly supported her financially. For a stretch, Pallenberg resided in an apartment that Richards — who has been married to model Patti Hansen since 1983 — maintained above the old Tower Records store on East Fourth Street and Broadway. She stayed at his English estate and at homes he provided in France and Jamaica.

Bockris said that she spent many a Christmas with her ex and his new family, including Hansen and their daughters Theodora and Alexandra, in Connecticut.

By 2000, Pallenberg had finally cleaned up and reclaimed her life. She earned a degree in fashion design and textiles, appeared in movies and on TV, walked a fashion-show runway for designer Pam Hogg and buddied up with Kate Moss.

When Courtney Love asked the wizened muse if she’d ever get plastic surgery, Pallenberg replied, “Darling, I was the most beautiful woman in 17 countries. I like being ugly!”

But she had to deal with Cantrell’s death for the rest of her life.

“Anita left [Frog Hollow] immediately after [the incident],” said Bockris. “She said it was the worst thing that ever happened to her” — partly because she was there for Cantrell’s death and partly because that death marked the end of her life with Richards.


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