last moon

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Like a longtime fairytale

Don't look at these facts with nowdays's eyes; please don't. It wouldn't be fair doing it. These are far aways' stories, that let me think about Allen Ginsberg' and all beat's generation's poetry and culture; they led me to a very far past, made of flowers, made of dreams, made of hope.... May be only a myth or an illusion.....
This is the story of Tommy Weber's son, the great actor Jake, which crosses with the Rock Band's Rolling Stones reputed best disco "Exile on Main Street" made in Cote d'Azur in 1971, when he was just eight; he took ander his shirt more than a pound of cocaine, a wedding present from Richards to bandmate Mick. The same year, that lost summer 1971, his mother Susan "Puss" Coriat died while she was thinking to rejoin her husband Tommy, hes sons Jake and Charley.

"Though drugs and sex were on the way, under everybody's eyes, it can't be denied these are happy memories to me" declares Jake Weber.

And later on in the interview:"Anita (Richards girlfriend) was pregnant of someone fron the Band (probably Keiths
himself or Mick Jagger) but my mother's friend looked after me and Charley, making sure we were well dressed and nurtured. And nobody never was unkind with us, though they were all the time out of their minds".

So I repeat: see the things the way they were, at that time. Today we could not accept such a situation. But yesterday was another story, the world was so different, may be we ignored so many things but closign my eyes I like to dream of those years when everything was a jump on a better future. Don't make now a jumpbanck to hell. You would just make two great mistakes.....

Read more of this on DM on line by Caroline Graham

Keith hid cocaine under my shirt... his wedding gift to Mick: The truth about the Rolling Stones, by an eight-year-old boy

As the eight-year-old boy walked through the vast iron gates of Villa Nellcote on the Cote d’Azur in the South of France, the scene unfolded like a child’s fantasy.

There was a huge pool complete with diving board, a sprawling toy-filled sandpit and even a selection of miniature motorbikes parked alongside a mansion that housed a menagerie of dogs, cats and a rabbit.

Tugging the sleeve of his six-year-old brother, young Jake Weber could barely contain his excitement as he cried: ‘It’s just like a fairytale palace!’
'I knew what was going on': Eight-year-old Jake Weber sits with the Rolling Stones' guitars behind Mick Jagger at Villa Nellcote as he works on a track for Exile On Main Street

'I knew what was going on': Eight-year-old Jake Weber sits with the Rolling Stones' guitars behind Mick Jagger at Villa Nellcote as he works on a track for Exile On Main Street

But the Villa Nellcote, known locally for having been a Nazi headquarters during the war, was certainly no place for children.

No sooner had the heavy wooden doors to the mansion closed than one of the most famous men on the planet lurched forward.

Pausing to give Jake’s golden hair a half-hearted tousle, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards knelt down and pulled the boy’s T-shirt off, revealing a package wrapped in plastic taped firmly to Jake’s bare stomach.

This, the boy learned, was to be Richards’s ‘wedding gift’ to bandmate Mick Jagger. Inside the package was half a kilo of cocaine.

Jake’s brother, Charley, also had half a kilo wrapped round his body. This would be for ­Richards’s own use.

This, the boy learned, was to be Richards’s ‘wedding gift’ to bandmate Mick Jagger. Inside the package was half a kilo of cocaine

Both consignments had been carefully prepared – and concealed on them by the boys’ father. It was, as Jake put it, ‘pretty outrageous even by the debauched standards of the Rolling Stones. To use kids as drug mules takes some doing’.

Tonight the full hedonistic extent of that ­summer at the 54-room Villa Nellcote will be laid bare when a new documentary, Stones In Exile, is broadcast on BBC1.

The film coincides with the re-release of the Stones’ legendary double album Exile On Main Street, which is considered by many to be the greatest rock and roll album.

Almost as legendary as the music – created in a makeshift basement studio that was so damp that the guitars constantly went out of tune – are the antics of the band and their colourful entourage: heroin-addled Richards and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg; Mick Jagger and his new bride, the sultry Bianca; Charlie Watts; Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor.

At Nellcote, the Stones embarked on an orgy of partying surrounded by drug-pushers and legions of hangers-on, punctuated by occasional visits from celebrity friends like John Lennon and Yoko Ono. They submerged themselves in a bacchanalian haze of hash, cocaine, heroin and alcohol by day before retreating to their basement lair by night, to create classic tracks such as Tumbling Dice, Happy and Sweet Virginia.

But there was a still more extra­ordinary, and some might say dis­turbing, aspect to the dark fantasy playing out beneath the crystal chandeliers: along with the band members, their girlfriends and the groupies, there was an audience of vulnerable children who watched as the mayhem unfolded.

Today Jake Weber is 46 and a successful Hollywood actor. It is to his credit that he survived this particular journey to the wilder fringes of celebrity life – although, in his own way, he too would later become a victim of the culture of drugs and hedonism that was celebrated so recklessly during that summer with the Stones in 1971.

There had been something of the fairy tale in Jake’s own family background. His parents, who had married in 1964, had been regarded as one of Britain’s most beautiful couples, albeit with a dark, hidden secret.

His mother was Susan ‘Puss’ Coriat, the exquisite but emotionally fragile heiress to a large trust fund. Susan was the daughter of Priscilla Chrystal Frances Blundell Weigall, who inherited a fortune worth the equivalent of £120 million today, and Harold Coriat, a land agent for Priscilla’s first husband, Viscount Edward Curzon.

'I can remember the smells of Villa Nellcote, the roses in the garden, the sea foam when we went on the boat with Keith, the smoke and booze fumes that would hang in the air every morning when we would go downstairs'

The family’s wealth came from Priscilla’s grandfather John Maple, who transformed a modest furniture store on Tottenham Court Road in London into the world’s largest luxury furniture empire during the Victorian era.

Jake’s father was Tommy Weber, the son of a Danish aristocrat. Tommy’s grandfather was Reginald Evelyn Weber, a good friend of King George VI (they shared a love of stamp collecting) who built his fortune with the coffee, tea and spice importing firm Weber, Smith and Hoare.

Tommy was a socialite and racing-car enthusiast who was also a notorious gambler and drug supplier to the rich and infamous – including the Stones.

Puss became steadily more consumed by drug dependency and a thirst for spiritual fulfilment. She was being treated in a clinic in England when Tommy took Jake and his brother to France for Jagger’s May 1971 wedding – and stayed for five months.

Jake says: ‘I remember it vividly. I was eight years old but I think that is the age when you first start to have vivid recall. I can remember the smells of Villa Nellcote, the roses in the garden, the sea foam when we went on the boat with Keith, the smoke and booze fumes that would hang in the air every morning when we would go downstairs.’

The Stones had fled to the mansion near Cannes, which was being rented by Richards for £1,000 a week, to escape Britain’s top tax rate of 93 per cent.

Jake and his brother were given rooms at the very top of the mansion. They were not the only children there. Anita and Keith had brought their toddler son Marlon to the South of France and, according to Jake, there were other children who came and went.

Presented with such freedom, Jake is happy to admit that he enjoyed his weeks at the mansion, for the most part at least. ‘I can’t complain and say how terrible it was because I don’t remember it like that. We were in a castle with endless toys, sandy beaches, food and sweets.’

Jake and his new summertime playmates enjoyed the treats to the full.

‘The adults were very kind to us,’ he says. ‘I had a rabbit and no one could figure out how to lift it out of its cage properly until Keith came along one day and grabbed it by the ears. I remember going out with Keith on his motorboat and he’d play at being a pirate and pretend to board the yachts in the harbour. My brother and I were pageboys at Mick and Bianca’s wedding. Those are the happy memories.’

He describes Anita Pallenberg as kind and nurturing, even though she admits to being ‘wasted’ on heroin at the time. Anita, who spent the summer in a striking leopard-print bikini, was pregnant with someone’s child, but was not entirely clear about the father. Pallenberg, a friend of Jake’s mother, had slept with both Jagger and Richards that summer.

Jake recalls: ‘Anita always made sure we ate and were dressed well. I knew what was going on with the drugs and sex. You would have to be blind not to see it. There was dope and lots of cocaine and heroin. People would be wasted but no one was ever unkind to me and my brother.

If he survived Villa Nellcote, the wider consequences of the drug ­culture that surrounded him were inescapable. ‘Yes, there was a dark side too,’ he concedes

‘We were allowed to wander freely around. There was no such thing as “bed time” – you just took yourself off when you felt tired. The days were endlessly sunny. We had a series of chefs who would cook you anything you wanted. There would be piles of pastries alongside the bottles of wine for breakfast.

‘My brother and I never drank or did drugs. We were too young. We would dance around the room to Brown Sugar while everyone else got stoned.’

If he survived Villa Nellcote, the wider consequences of the drug ­culture that surrounded him were inescapable. ‘Yes, there was a dark side too,’ he concedes.

His handsome father, for example, preferred louche living to spending time with his boys. ‘My father didn’t know how to be a father,’ says Jake. ‘He would be off doing drugs or having sex. I did my own thing and was happy to sit and watch Mick and Keith create long into the night.’

Tommy had recently ended an affair with the actress Charlotte Rampling and had told his sons that their mother would join them at the villa, once she had completed her rehabilitation. Her experimentation with LSD had led to schizophrenia and a period of hospitalisation, including electroshock therapy.

Pallenberg and Puss had became friends at Bowden House, a rehab clinic in Harrow. They met in March 1971 when both checked in to Bowden, which at the time was dubbed ‘a drying-out paddock for the rich and famous’ by the Press. Both regularly left the clinic to party in London and, according to Tommy, Puss confessed she and Anita enjoyed a ‘brief but satisfying’ lesbian affair.

He later told his children that while he believed Puss was planning to travel to the villa to ­reconcile with him, she may also have been coming to rekindle her romance with Pallenberg. Whatever the motive, the eagerly awaited reunion would never take place.

On June 7, 1971, Richards received an urgent telegram from London and Tommy was left to break the news to his two sons that their mother, newly released from the clinic, had died. At first Jake was told it was an accident, but later he was to learn that she had taken her own life with an overdose of prescription pills. She was just 27.

Jake says: ‘When my brother and I were told of the death I remember us both breaking into pathetic sobs, and then for a couple of weeks I was in a haze of grief.

‘My father was not capable of looking after us on his own. But the group at the villa rallied round. We were surrounded by people who loved us and cared for us, even though they were out of their minds most of the time. That’s how we made it through. I don’t think they were bad people, it was just a dif­ferent time, a different era.’

Neither of the boys attended the funeral, which was thought to be too distressing an occasion. Instead, they remained at the villa for the rest of the summer.

Today, almost 40 years on, Jake lives with his long-time partner, actress Liz Carey, and their four-year-old son Waylon in a sprawling home near the ocean in Malibu.

He has worked steadily as an actor in films such as The Pelican Brief, Meet Joe Black and Dawn Of The Dead and now stars opposite Patricia Arquette in the hit US drama Medium. For this is he grateful to his wealthy godfather, American businessman Peter van Gerbig, who had been best man at Tommy and Puss’s wedding and took Jake under his wing.
Hollywood couple: Actor Jack and wife Liz Carey out together in Los Angeles

Van Gerbig not only paid for his education, he encouraged him to go to Juilliard, America’s top acting school. Jake was nearly 13 when he arrived in the States. The plan had been to bring his younger brother over too but, says Jake, van Gerbig had a new family of his own and bringing Charley over too ‘became too much’. The siblings would not see each other for years.

Charley remained with Tommy in England and did not fare so well. His father squandered every penny on drugs. In a book about the Webers, A Day In The Life, Charley told author Robert Greenfield: ‘I had to give Dad my last five quid so he could get a fix.’ Charley ended up living on friends’ couches and even endured a brief period on the streets before pulling his life together.

Jake says: ‘My brother had some very tough times. He was there one time when Dad overdosed on heroin. He suffered more than I did.’

Tommy Weber was repeatedly arrested and convicted for possession of heroin and cannabis as well as drink-driving. He ended up serving 11 months in prison.

In 1982, Jake saw his father for the first time in years. Tommy gave him a letter which read: ‘Jake, there is a very important secret to life. Work is much more interesting than play and if you are lucky enough to be able to make your work your play and your play pay, well, then you’re in clover.’

Jake says his relationship with his brother, so close at the villa, also suffered. ‘Once I moved to America we were in different worlds.’

In September 2006, after years of ill-health and a series of heart attacks, Tommy was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on his liver.

His veins had collapsed through drug use and nurses were forced to inject pain edication into the soles of his feet. He died on September 21, 2006, aged 66. Charley still lives in England and works as a film editor.

Despite his exposure to the Stones’ rock-and-roll lifestyle, Jake says he has never been tempted by the excesses he witnessed during the Exile On Main Street period.

He says: ‘I think round parents often have square children. I enjoy a cocktail but that’s as far as it goes. I have my own family, my own home, and I treasure what I have built for myself.’

But the summer of 1971 remains with him in the sharpest and most colourful detail. He says: ‘I treasure my memories and of being a very small part of a moment in history.’

By chance, a couple of years ago Jake bumped into Mick Jagger in the garden of Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont hotel. Jake recalls: ‘I went up to him and told him I was Tommy Weber’s son, Jake. He looked at me for a while and said, “Oh right, that was a long time ago, wasn’t it?”

‘He was with some other people so I excused myself and went back to my table. That was that.’

Jagger later left the hotel without pausing to say goodbye.

‘He’s moved on ... and so have I,’ says Jake.

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1 comment:

  1. interesting experience....Thanks for sharing..What about that black and white pic....Its like olden goldies, i like that...location villa piscine espagne