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Craig Preservation Lab

Famous People Fake-Out

One of the things that I love most about my work in Preservation is that sometimes when you open a book at random, you find something delightful.  It might be a cute illustration, a poetic phrase, a real-life name that sounds like it came right out of a Dickens novel.  That sort of thing.  This is what happened recently when I opened a copy of the 1974 Bloomington City Directory that we were repairing for the University Archives. (The spine of the book had fallen off and it needed a new one.)

I noticed a listing in the directory for Mick and Bianca Jagger at a house on North Lincoln Street.  That seemed unlikely. I lived in that neighborhood back in the day. Not where you’d expect to have international superstars living across the street.

A quick check of some other key names showed that in 1974, apparently all the other members of the Rolling Stones were occupying the same house!  So delightful!

I immediately figured that this was a student prank.  I approve.   I’m also really curious to know how it was pulled off.  My first assumption was that someone working for the directory just slipped it in.  Simple.  

However, one of my colleagues suggested that perhaps a door-to-door canvasser for the directory was duped by the residents of the house.  I love picturing this version of events.  There is a serious, well meaning, and pop-culture-oblivious person hired by the directory publisher to go around to all these student neighborhoods. They knock on the door of the house on North Lincoln and the guy who answers says, “Yeah, I live here.”  Name?  “Uhhhh….Mick Jagger.”   Profession?  “Musician.” “Yeah, there are other adults at this address.  Well, my wife Bianca, and our roommates.”  Names?  “Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman. We’re all musicians.”  I picture roommates overhearing and stifling laughter on the other side of the door.     This is all speculation of course.  If anyone out there knows how this came about, please let me know!

A quick check in the 1974 directory didn’t turn up any other super-famous rock musicians hiding out in Bloomington’s student neighborhoods.  No Beatles, no Eagles, no Parliament Funkadelic.  Eventually I gave up rather than spend my whole workday looking up famous names in the directory.  I did find some long-time family friends, though. And that was also delightful in its own way.

I figured that there were no other actual Rolling Stones connections to IU.  And I was wrong.  They played a concert at Assembly Hall in July 1975.   Looking at the photos online, it seems that Mick made use of a very suggestive stage prop! Tickets were $8.50 apiece.  (So, just for fun, I checked with a family member who attended a Stones concert in 2019. Those floor tickets were about $1000. Make of that what you will.)

Also, Mick Jagger’s father, Basil “Joe” Jagger, (whose name does sound like something from a Dickens novel) graduated from IU with an MS in Recreation in 1968!  Thanks to Dina in the University Archives for that bit of trivia!

The Bloomington City Directories are available in the Archives and in Wells Library and are a great resource for research into local history, or just to see if your family members were listed at some point in the past. There is some great information on this collection here. And if you find any other superstars hiding out in the pages, I’m sure that the folks in University Archives would love to know.

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