Sally Arnold was used to hearing her phone ring at least once a night. As tour manager for some of the world’s most iconic rock bands, including the Rolling Stones, the Who and Peter Gabriel, he often received calls at 3 a.m. to “fix” situations involving the police or track down drunk band members, which had disappeared before huge sold out concerts, writes Louise Burke in the Telegraph on the occasion of the publication of Arnold’s memoir, ‘Rock N Roll Nanny’.
But on one particular night in November 1974, the alarm bells rang loudly. American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd had started their first UK tour when Sally received an angry phone call from the Portobello Hotel in Notting Hill; she was told that ‘one of them strangled the hotel cat, threw it out of a window and ran away.” Drummer Bob Burns was so worked up, he had a psychotic episode. Sally finally found him at 9am wandering around Hyde Park. Of course she was the one who had to apologize to the hotel.
“Nanny of children with early development”
“What I always say is that being a boys tour manager was like nannying precocious children“, 73-year-old Sally Arnold, who studied at the prestigious Norland College, where she became a nanny for the children of the elite and the royal family, writes in her book. Her training there in how to care for newborns and toddlers during their terrifying first two years unexpectedly equipped her with the skills necessary to take on the role of first-time manager of a rock band.
“Children love security and discipline provides security. Rock band members were often like little lost boys in strange lands, longing for the comfort and security of knowing that someone would always look out for them. There was no ego involved, because he was not a man bossing around other men. If I wasn’t strict, everything would have fallen apart. And they generally obeyed me“, she notes in her memoirs.
But how exactly does a nanny who graduated from one of the world’s top babysitting colleges end up on Mick Jagger’s private jet? “It was a great opportunity,” Sally puts it simply, who further reveals: “I was never into rock and roll, nor had I ever bought a Rolling Stones record».
Her passion or “raison d’être” as she puts it, was travel, which was certainly fulfilled by working as a tour manager. On a road trip to France, she found herself at a glamorous party on a producer’s yacht during the Cannes Film Festival. There began her wild love affair with French producer Jean-Pierre Rassam, who introduced her to Jagger at a party in 1971. Two days later, in their suite on the top floor of ‘L’ Hotel’ in Paris, Mick and Bianca was offered nanny to the baby they were expecting (Jade was born in October 1971) and Sally accepted.
Mick made tea and cooked
“The Jaggers were ordinary people back then” Arnold recalls. “Behind closed doors Mick was very normal: making tea, sitting and chatting. At home he spoke English with a royal accent, but rock star Mick used this weird mocking accent. He was very interesting to watch».
His fame never interested her: “It’s important not to be a fan [του εργοδότη σου]. Otherwise, you will be constantly in awe of him. Even when their friends came to visit their home in Bel Air, LA, I didn’t know who they weresays Sally, who made sure to dress up in Norland’s uniform when she was with the Jaggers. “It was like a normal family and I felt part of it. We even cooked a Christmas dinner together, Mick and I, with bread and gravy“, reveals. “Bianca used to say we were God-fearing. The three of us sat down to eat at the end of a huge table! It was great! It was only when we went out that I saw strange things happening around them, like people staring or stories being leaked to the press».
As the Stones became more and more famous, Sally’s life was upgraded, writes Louise Burke in the Telegraph. She was staying with the Jaggers at the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel, riding in the elevator with Warren Beatty and having lunch with Bianca and baby Jade, getting expensive gifts like a red and gold logo necklace, tongue and lips, by the Rolling Stones, and a Gucci purse. Although there were many incredible moments, says Sally. “In fact, it was quite a volatile lifestyle. As soon as one fire was extinguished, another would break out. Just like any other couple, they contradicted each other with their instructions or ideas».
Soon, however, the spontaneous jet-set lifestyle morphed into an unpredictable, chaotic lifestyle. Meanwhile, five-month-old Jade became more attached to Sally. And she loved her: “I was with her 24 hours a day, feeding her, bathing her, holding her in my arms, it’s natural».
Sally worked with the Jagger family until March 2, 1972, but that wasn’t the last time she saw the couple. Three years later when she returned from her travels in China, Russia and India, Alan Dunn, Mick’s driver and right-hand man, called her to offer her a job in the tour office of the Stones and the Who: “I had no idea about organizing or managing a tour, but I accepted and managed without any effort“, says Sally, who never misses any opportunity that presents itself in her life.
She had spent her childhood out of the limelight on a farm in Wiltshire: “I was always a tomboy and I guess bossy as the eldestshe says to the Telegraph, also revealing that it was very difficult for her to resist the lure of the big city. At 16, before Norland, she had gone to London to work in the dressing room of the legendary Marquee Club in Soho, where she saw the best bands live: “Jimi Hendrix of Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton“, says.
She owes a lot to her grandfather; Charles Arnold was a successful businessman, owner of MK Electric and the sixth richest businessman in the UK at the time, who simply did what he thought was common sense: “That’s what I did too. I remember Heather, the wife of Roger Daltrey of the Who, once said to me: “No one has given the concert schedule to the wives before.” But to me, it was common sense, wives needed to know where their husbands were!»
“I don’t think anyone was particularly careful in the past. Everything I did was for the good of the tour, I was also there for them. When Allen Collins [των Lynyrd Skynyrd] he lost the birth of his first baby, he was heartbroken and crying on my shoulder“, he remembers.
A life of sex, drugs and rock and roll
Since the 1970s it has had a murky image with private jets, after parties and penthouse suites in the world’s most luxurious hotels: “It was all about sex, drugs and rock and rollArnold reveals to the Telegraph. “I wasn’t a saint either! I had drinks and cocaine after a gig but I was in control so I could concentrate if something went wrong“, says.
However, he admits that there was one time when he got away. “He was on the Stones tour. I only knew heroin as yellowish, brown sugar, but she was white. I felt very sick. But Woody [Ρόνι Γουντ] and Keith [Ρίτσαρντς] I was watched for hours“, he remembers. “I would never take by choice, because I saw what it did to them. But it was very easy. The same goes for sex with the band. I didn’t want to be a cliché and luckily that saved me from being absurd».
In a world of demanding egos and overly pressing schedules, Sally sought refuge in her true passion, classical music. “I auditioned for the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus in 1973 and passed“, says. “It helped me escape insanity, and it was my secret. Until Jagger heard me sing the high notes of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the plane and asked me to bring the choir to sing at Knebworth’s concert in 1976· and i did it!»
Arnold lived and worked in a man’s world, but “I liked it“, he admits, “and actually, one thing i miss is those big hugs. On tour we were a very close family».
Exceeding the boundaries was never a problem, except once”during the Stones’ European tour in 1976. He was a stupid boy, a roadie, who could have invited me for a drink or a meal, and instead threw himself into an elevator».
A plane tragedy changed her life
In general, men were afraid of her. “I mean it took four years before I gave in to my fiancé Dean [Κίλπατρικ, μέλος των Lynyrd Skynyrd]. I was completely ignoring him until everyone else said, “Don’t you realize he’s really in love with you?” We got engaged and then he was tragically killed in a plane crash».
In 1977, the private plane, carrying six members of the band, crashed in Mississippi due to lack of fuel, and at that moment Sally Arnold’s life fell apart: “I lost my beloved Dean, but he also saved my life; I should have been on that planesays Sally. Dean had called her a few days before and suggested she take a different flight. Which he did.
After the plane crash (45 years this year), Sally continued to work as a tour manager with Mike Oldfield and Peter Gabriel, but her professional life would never be the same; she decided to move away from the mayhem of rock and roll. roll and turn to charity work, supporting major events for Comic Relief and Pete Townshend’s Double O charity. He also worked with Classic FM.
Now retired, Sally Arnold lives in Totnes, Devon and likes to ‘draw and walk”, although she has not cut herself off from her old life. “I still talk to Allen, who must be almost 80 now. We always talk about Jade. I adored her. I’m on the phone with Artimus Pyle of Lynyrd Skynyrd…Reminiscing about those we’ve lost“, says.
This year marks 20 years since she was cured of breast cancer. She was the first to proudly tattoo over her mastectomy scar. “People say they should be brave. But you do what you have to do, there is no alternative, you just keep going” says Sally, who, by the way, chose not to have children of her own. He is relieved to have retired: “I volunteer helping local teenagers to experience music through my charity Jamming Station. I still enjoy my trips to London, to see old friends, and the long gossipy lunches, but without the alcohol. It’s like poison to me now, it gives me migraines. Maybe because I’ve been lagging…“, he admits.
Follow Protagon on Google News