It’s a mystery that must have plagued the lead singer of The Rolling Stones for decades, but we have finally solved the secret of Mick Jagger’s missing maracas.
Back in the early 1960s the Stones played a gig alongside Medway band Chris and the Breakaways – who left with the impression the future rock ’n’ roll giants were a pretty arrogant bunch. And because of that they left with a little more – Mick’s maracas.
Former Strood lad and lead singer Chris Easdown is resurrecting those heady days in an effort to track down fans and memorabilia, and recalled how the Breakaways brushed with several famous groups in the early 1960s before disbanding.
“We played with all the big groups except the Beatles,” he said. “We played with The Searchers, The Hollies, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Screaming Lord Sutch, The Undertakers…”
"They were in a world of their own. Charlie Watts sat in the dressing room, sitting like a Buddha" - Chris Easdown
But five decades on, it’s another band that – while not the Breakaways’ favourite – certainly left a lasting impression.
“Our encounter with the Stones was not good,” he said, speaking of the time they shared a bill in Tunbridge Wells in 1964 in front of a crowd of 5,000. “They were an arrogant bunch. When they arrived they didn’t take much notice of us.
“There was probably about 10 minutes while their roadies set up, and you would have thought they would have said ‘are you OK?’ They were in a world of their own. Charlie Watts sat in the dressing room, sitting like a Buddha.”
When Bill Wyman’s amp blew up halfway through the gig, the Stones’ roadies pulled The Breakaways’ bass amp on stage without asking – the final straw for drummer Clive Davies.
“All that Bob [bassist Bob Ellis] got for that was Bill Wyman gave us a couple of plectrums,” said Chris. “So Clive stole Mick Jagger’s maracas.”
Despite their unfavourable run-in, Chris says the Stones were “technically brilliant” and clearly destined for greatness.
And in hindsight, he wishes he had followed the Stones’ example, because while the Breakaways built a strong following by covering popular hits very well, they never branched out into writing their own.
When playing gigs and practising became too intensive, Chris quit the band. “After a while we had no social life,” he said. “It was stifling us. One day I walked out – I didn’t give notice and I’ve carried that guilt for years.”
So the band went their separate ways, Chris into the plastics industry and a career that took him around Europe, and Clive to Australia as a commercial driver, while the Stones skyrocketed to superstardom.
And all the while Mick’s lost maracas stayed in a box in a loft at Clive’s parents house – until one day they got thrown out with the rubbish. In fact, whether it was one or two maracas no one can remember precisely.
Clive thinks it was just one. He wrote on the band’s Facebook page: “When they appeared on Ready Steady Go on the telly the following Friday he was only shaking three to Not Fade Away.”
But Chris thinks it was two – “I remember every time we did a Stones number, shaking his maracas and smiling.”
Perhaps the only man that can clear this up once and for all is Mick Jagger.