Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone:
Let’s raise a toast to the late great Anita Pallenberg, queen of the underground, the Rolling Stones muse who gave the Glimmer Twins their glimmer lessons. Pallenberg, who died Tuesday night at the age of 73 [Really 75], wasn’t merely Keith Richards’ consort â€“ she was a rock & roll legend in herself, a style icon, a crucial part of the Stones’ mystique. She taught Keith her sinister glare, taught Mick Jagger her wiggle, taught Brian Jones how to wear floppy hats. Look at pictures of Keith before and after Anita â€“ it’s like the difference between Buddy Holly and Jack the Ripper. As soon Keith connected with Anita, he lost his gawky shyness and learned to strut like her, wearing her scarves and shirts and bangles. She was the flower of evil in the Stones’ orbit, the baddest of bad girls â€“ her grin declared she knew more about sin than any of these English schoolboys had ever imagined.
Things tended to burst into flames around Anita. Her friend Marianne Faithfull used to call her “Glenda Hindenburg.” “Loads of people were scared of me,” Anita said in Victor Bockris’ Keith Richards: The Biography. “I guess it was all that savoir-vivre that I had, and I was from Rome and I had traveled and been in New York and I knew all these people, and I was pretty reckless as well. You could see Keith and Mick exchanging looks like, â€˜Who is this weird bird?'” That was putting it mildly. As Keith recalled, “She knew everything and she could say it in five languages. She scared the pants off me!”
What an embodiment of the mod beauty we adored in the 1960s! Go to the link â€” it’s to the NYT â€” to see the photographs of her that made us so envious â€” in the arms of Keith Richards in 1969 and drawing lipliner on Mick Jagger (in the movie “Performance”) in 1970.
That movie “remains as hallucinogenically strange and disturbing as ever and Pallenberg will be for ever remembered as Pherber: sexually omnivorous, dangerous, sweetly amoral. The movie… captures the psychosis of the end of the 60s, where art, crime and sex open up the gates of social mobility but identity becomes fragmented.”
Pallenberg spoke of drugs freezing her, so she did not grow emotionally. Faithfull has spoken of not being able to have sex without being semi-anaesthetised with drugs. Their stories remind us of what sexual liberation could mean for women in the 60s. These great beauties paid a huge price for being the â€œgirlfriendsâ€ of rock stars. Both these clever, multilingual, arty women educated their boyfriends (Jagger and Richards) about culture and art and style. Pallenberg got the boys to wear her clothes. Everyone, Faithfull once told me, was in love with Keith, even Mick of course â€¦
“I like a high-spirited woman. And with Anita, you knew you were taking on a Valkyrie â€” she who decides who dies in battle.” â€” wrote Keith Richards.
It was Anita Pallenberg who did the unusual voice backgrounds in “Sympathy for the Devil.”