Although a famous Vogue cover shot by Patrick Lichfield of Marsha Hunt, naked, with a huge Afro, as a London cast member of Hair is an indisputably and quintessentially iconic image of the 1960s, Hunt remains under the radar of most music fans. For one (quite good) reason, there are exactly zero CDs of her music on the market currently and there is nothing on iTunes either. This is too bad, because she made some worthwhile music during her career. However, some pretty great clips of her live on European TV have been popping up on YouTube and many of her better known singles have made it to some audio blogs, as well, so there’s plenty for me to illustrate here what still makes Hunt the object of cult fascination. Eventually, I have no doubt, she’ll be rediscovered by music nerds.
Hunt, an insanely gorgeous, highly intellectual 19-year-old model, originally from Philly, who went to Berkeley (and marched with Jerry Rubin!), moved to swinging London in 1966. She married Mike Ratledge of the Soft Machine so she could stay in the country (and is still married to him to this day, although they have not been together for decades) and sang back-up vocals for blues great Alexis Korner. She became a cast member of Hair, having but two lines as “Dionne” in the West End production.
Below, a clip of Marsha Hunt performing her cover version of Dr. John’s Walk on Gilded Splinters:
Next up, my favorite Marsha Hunt track (Oh No! Not) The Beast Day. To my ears this sounds way, way, way ahead if its time, reminding me (a lot) of Demon Days by the Gorillaz or mid-career Talking Heads. Turn this up LOUD, you’ll be really glad you did:
She fronted several different groups, including one called White Trash, which was organized by former Deep Purple bassist, Nick Simper. In the below clip you can see an interview with Hunt and a performance with White Trash of the Supremes’ My World is Empty Without You at the the Bilzen festival in 1969:
Her association with Hair aside, Hunt has other roles that assure her a place in rock history, such as the fact that Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones was written about her and that she is the mother of Mick Jagger’s eldest daughter, Dangerous Minds pal Karis Jagger. She also had a passionate affair with Marc Bolan, after they were introduced by a mutual friend, producer Tony Visconti.
Above, a performance on Italy’s Teatro 10 television program in 1972. Below, a performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s Keep the Customers Satisfied:
Hunt went on to a career on stage and in film and she recorded a few disco numbers in the late 70s. In the 80s and 90s she reinvented herself as a documentarian and novelist. She is a proud cancer surviver and on the cover of her 2005 autobiography, Undefeated, appeared naked just weeks after having her breast removed, recreating the famous Vogue cover again with Lord Lichfield. At age 64, Marsha Hunt is still wicked hot.
Marsha Hunt: ‘I’m glad Mick didn’t help raise our girl’ (Daily Mail)
Originally posted on 08/05/10.