Biography of Marianne Faithfull

Singer, songwriter, actress. Born on December 29, 1946, in London, England. Starting out as a singer when she was in her teens in 1960s, Marianne Faithfull has remained an inventive and original performer, despite many personal and professional highs and lows during her long career. The daughter of an Austro-Hungarian baroness and a former British intelligence officer, she spent some of her early years at a communal farm established by her father. Her parents later split and Faithfull went with her mother to live in Reading.

Educated at a convent, she met Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones manager, at a party in 1964 while she was still in school. He produced her first hit, “As Tears Go By,” which he helped to write, along with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. The song made a strong showing on both the British and American charts.

Although she was more popular in her native England, Faithfull still managed to attract a following. Many people were won over by her soft, feathery voice and her youthful, naïve appearance. But as the 1960s progressed, Faithfull became more famous for her personal life than for her music. She married to art dealer John Dunbar in 1965, and they had a son later that year. But they soon grew apart and divorced. Then Faithfull was “swept off her feet” by Mick Jagger, according to an article in The Observer. They dated for several years, becoming one of rock’s best known couples. Traveling the world, they led quite a jet set lifestyle complete with extensive partying. Making headlines, Faithfull was caught in 1967 police raid of Keith Richard’s home wearing nothing but a fur rug. Jagger and Richards faced drug charges as a result of the raid, and the incident forever damaged Faithfull’s public image.

Despite her escalating substance abuse, Faithfull started an acting career. She appeared on stage in a production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters in 1967 and the film Girl on a Motorcycle in 1968. But by the end of the decade, Faithfull’s personal and professional life was coming undone. The song “Sister Morphine” is said to reflect this difficult time in her life, which she co-wrote with Jagger and Richards. With its controversial drug references, the song was pulled by her record company. In despair over her situation, she attempted suicide while with Jagger in Australia. The couple later broke up, and she sank deeper into drug use.

In the 1970s, Faithfull was lost in her addiction for several years. She was reportedly homeless for a time and hospitalized several times. While she produced two earlier albums during this time, nothing matched the critical success of 1979’s Broken English, which marked Faithfull’s musical rebirth. Her voice was different now, one that had been roughed up by time and hard living. And it was emotionally expressive and captivating. The album, which incorporated elements of punk with modern dance music, earned her widespread praise

Still the specter of drugs hung over Faithfull until the mid-1980s. Around this time, she went through extensive rehabilitation to end her decades-long problem. Her first album after becoming drug-free was Strange Weather (1987), which included a new recording of her greatest hit, “As Tears Go By.” An ingénue no more, Faithfull sounded even more poignant and melancholy the second time around.

Resuming her acting career, Faithfull appeared on the Dublin stage in 1991 in a revival of The Threepenny Opera written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. She went on to record two albums based on the works of Weill and Brecht—20th Century Blues (1996) and The Seven Deadly Sins (1998).


Since then, Faithfull has seamlessly moved to between making music and acting. Continually creating interesting and innovative music, she recorded Kissin’ Time (2002) in a popular yet alternative-sounding style. The album featured collaborations with many of alternative music’s leading music makers, including Beck and Billy Corrigan of the Smashing Pumpkins. On Before the Poison (2004), Faithfull sang about love and friendship. It also contained a number of collaborations with contemporary artists as PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, best known for his rock group Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. On the big screen, Faithfull has appeared in a number of films, including Marie Antoinette (2004) directed by Sofia Coppola and Paris, I Love You (2006) directed by Gus Van Sant.

In 2006, Faithfull learned that she had breast cancer. Fortunately the disease was caught during the early stages and she made a full recovery. Since then, Faithfull has continued to work, starring in the independent film Irina Palm (2007). According to her website, Faithfull began working on her latest album in New York City in December 2007.

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Biography courtesy of www.biography.com

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