Archives for : THE IKETTES

Claudia Lennear: Brown Sugar!

thSIQWY3R6 When backing vocalist Claudia, 63, dated Mick Jagger, she inspired one of the Rolling Stones’ greatest rock anthems, as she tells Pauline McLeod

“Around the time Brown Sugar became a hit for The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and I were always seen together in restaurants and nightclubs in Los Angeles. That’s why people thought the song was about me, and Mick later confirmed that it was.

The airport photo of the two of us was taken at Las Vegas and that moment stands out in my memory because it was the first time I’d ever been on a private plane. I was 17, maybe 18, and I thought we were just going out to the disco in LA. Then we arrived at the airport and I was immediately suspicious when I got to the plane and there were no other passengers apart from Mick, Keith Richards and the record producer Glyn Johns. But I wasn’t nervous. The Stones had a bad-boy image but they were perfect gentlemen.

We flew to Vegas and went to a casino where Mick taught me how to play baccarat then we hopped back on the jet and came home to LA.

Mick and I dated for a long while.

It was an on-off thing because of our different schedules, but we would talk all the time on the phone. He was a lot of fun to be with, although his public persona is quite different to the way he is in private. I found him a quiet guy who was very British, with good manners, so I was always smitten by his behavior.I was also the muse for David Bowie’s song Lady Grinning Soul.I’d seen David’s show in Detroit, he asked me for some input and we struck up a friendship after that. I had to pinch myself a few times. This was the top one per cent of Rock’n’Roll that

I just happened to make friends with. I was on quite a roll, wasn’t I?When I was a kid, my first love was language and I hoped to become a translator. But my family moved to California just as I hit my teenage years and I started going out to see bands. Then I began meeting the movers and shakers in the industry, and my career took off.

Ike Turner – Tina’s husband – hired me on the spot for his band. I was an “Ikette” for three years, until I had a little spat with Tina, but by that time

I was ready to move on anyway.

After that I was a background vocalist for Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Bob Dylan at the first ever benefit gig, The Concert For Bangladesh, at Madison Square Garden. I sang with all kinds of bands and had my own solo album released. But then the 80s came round and the music business began to change. Hip-hop and rap were the new ideas and I didn’t feel I had my finger on the pulse any more. I was a single mother by then, too, so I decided that maybe I should change my career and do something that would bring in a steady pay check.I’m a teacher now, using my language skills, and it’s funny because every time there’s a new intake of students, I can guarantee that one of them will come up to me with, ‘Miss Lennear, we saw this lady on YouTube who has your name…’Life has become rather surreal of late but so exciting because I’m featured in the Oscar-winning documentary about background vocalists, 20 Feet From Stardom. There are now offers coming in for me to sing again, I’m talking record deals and putting bands together, and I feel like I’m picking up where I left off. It is just so cool.”

20 Feet From Stardom is out now.

Writer :Pauline McLeod

 

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