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Marianne Faithfull Was One of the Ultimate ’60s Cool Girls — Here’s Why

Learn about her connection to the Rolling Stones and how she was a star in her own right


The ’60s just might have been the ultimate decade for it girls. As the worlds of fashion, music, film and art experienced an unprecedented surge of stylish, youthful energy, countless cool women made their mark on the culture. Chief among these ’60s it girls was Marianne Faithfull, the blonde beauty who was one of the biggest icons of the British invasion.

Faithfull made a major impact with ’60s hits like “As Tears Go By” and “Come and Stay With Me,” and went on the have a tumultuous personal and professional life. At 77, she’s a true rock survivor who has overcome a long battle with addiction and various health struggles.

Here’s a look at Marianne Faithfull young, with some fabulous photos and fascinating facts about one of the ultimate muses — and artists — during a pivotal time for pop.

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Marianne Faithfull in 1967
Marianne Faithfull in 1967Getty

Marianne Faithfull was discovered by the manager of the Rolling Stones

Faithfull was just 17 when she was first discovered. At a party in 1964, she had a fateful encounter with Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager of the Rolling Stones. He asked her if she could sing, she said yes and a week later, he had her come into the studio to record “As Tears Go By.”

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Marianne Faithfull in 1964
Marianne Faithfull in 1964Getty

Her first hit was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

“As Tears Go By” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and was one of their earliest collaborations as songwriters, as the Rolling Stones mostly played covers when they first started.

Jagger and Richards were in their early 20s when they wrote the song, but they managed to perfectly capture the wistfulness and nostalgia of aging with their poignant words — an impressive feat that set them up for decades of unforgettable lyrics.

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The song topped the UK pop charts and made it to Billboard‘s top 40 in the US. The next year the Stones had a hit with their own version of the song. To this day, “As Tears Go By” remains Faithfull’s biggest and best known hit.

She dated Mick Jagger and inspired his music

Faithfull dated Jagger from 1966 to 1970, and the relationship between the two charismatic Swinging London musicians was the subject of much media coverage.

She was also said to have inspired some of the Rolling Stones’ most famous songs, including “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Wild Horses.”

Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull in 1967
Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger in 1967Getty

Looking back on her high-profile relationship, Faithfull told Rolling Stone, “It almost destroyed me. Although it was wonderful, it was only four years. It was a wonderful time, and he was great, but I don’t think I fit into that life or what he wanted in a woman, that’s all. I couldn’t do it.”

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Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger in 1967
Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger in 1967Getty

She was also an actress

Faithfull began acting in the late ’60s, and starred in the kitschy 1968 film The Girl on a Motorcycle, playing the sexy, catsuit-clad title character. She also appeared in the 1967 film I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘Isname and played Ophelia in a 1969 adaptation of Hamlet.

She’s continued to act occasionally since then, with a supporting role in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette. In 2021, her voice was used in the sci-fi blockbuster Dune.

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The singer in 'The Girl on a Motorcycle' 1968
Marianne Faithfull in The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968)Getty

She had a tragic downfall — and a surprising second act

Faithfull will always be seen as a ’60s icon, and the ’70s were a difficult time for her. She faced drama in her personal life and descended into addiction, leading her to fight her demons for the better part of the decade.

In 1976, Faithfull attempted a comeback with her first country album, Dreamin’ My Dreams. Three years later, her 1979 album Broken English put her back in the game in a big way. The album was much darker than her previous work, and her once angelic voice was raspy from years of drug use. While her voice was decidedly different, it was undeniably compelling, and the album became the most acclaimed work of her career.

The singer poses for a portrait in 1976
Marianne Faithfull in 1976Getty

She has continued to release albums, and has dabbled in cabaret music and spoken word performance. Her most recent album, She Walks in Beauty, from 2021, saw her performing British romantic poems set to music.

Few artists have come back up from rock bottom quite like Faithfull, and her journey from sweet pop star to weathered and world-weary chanteuse makes her one of the most unique female artists to emerge from the ’60s.

Marianne Faithfull in 1967
Marianne Faithfull in 1967Getty
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