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Marianne Faithfull (born 29 December 1946) is an English singer and Actor whose career spans over four decades.

Faithfull's early work in pop and rock music was overshadowed by her struggle with drug abuse in the 1970s. After a long absence, she returned with the landmark album, Broken English.

With a recording career that spans over four decades, Faithfull has continually reinvented her musical persona, experimenting in vastly different musical genres and collaborating with such varied artists as David Bowie, Patrick Wolf, The Chieftains, Tom Waits, Lenny Kaye, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Rupert Hine, Metallica and Roger Waters. Faithfull's subsequent solo work, often critically acclaimed, has at times been overshadowed by her personal history.

Early life

Born Marian Evelyn Faithfull[1] in Hampstead, London, her parents were British military officer and college professor Major Robert Glynn Faithfull and the Baroness Eva Erisso, an Austrian Jew from Vienna, of the Habsburg dynasty. Eva was a ballerina during her early years and worked with the German theatrical duo Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

Faithfull's great-uncle on her mother's side of the family is Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the infamous 19th century Austrian nobleman whose erotic novel, Venus in Furs, spawned the word "masochism".[2]

After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Reading, Berkshire. As a teenager, she attended The Abbey School there and was a member of the Progress Theatre student group.

Music career and personal life


Faithfull began her singing career in 1964, landing her first gigs as a folk music performer in coffeehouses.

Faithfull was discovered at a Rolling Stones' launch party by pop music producer Andrew Loog Oldham. Her first major release, "As Tears Go By", was penned by Oldham, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and became a chart success. She then released a series of successful singles, including "This Little Bird", "Summer Nights" and "Come and Stay With Me".

Faithfull married artist John Dunbar in 1965. That same year, she gave birth to their son, Nicholas. The marriage was short-lived, principally due to Dunbar's heroin addiction.

Faithfull fled her home with Dunbar and took their son to stay with Brian Jones and Anita Pallenberg in London. During that time period, Faithfull started experimenting with marijuana and became best friends with Pallenberg. She also began a much publicized relationship with Mick Jagger. The relationship with Jagger lasted throughout the late 1960s, and the couple became notorious. She was found by British police while on a drug search at Keith Richards' house in Redlands, while wearing only a rug. In 1968 Faithfull, by now addicted to cocaine, miscarried a daughter (whom she had named Corrina) while retreating to Jagger's country house in Ireland.

Faithfull's involvement in Jagger's life would be reflected in some of the Rolling Stones' best-known songs. "Sympathy for the Devil", featured on the album Beggars Banquet (1968), was in part inspired by The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, a book which Faithfull introduced him to. Two songs on 1971 album Sticky Fingers were also influenced by Faithfull: the chorus of "Wild Horses" ("wild horses couldn't drag me away") is said to be based on a phrase Faithfull uttered after coming out of a coma after an overdose, while Faithfull herself wrote "Sister Morphine". (The writing credit for the song was the subject of a protracted legal battle; the resolution of the case has Faithfull listed as co-author of the song.)


Faithfull dissolved her relationship with Jagger in 1970, and lost custody of her son in that same year. Her personal life went into decline, and her career went into a tailspin. She only made a few appearances, including a notorious 1973 performance at NBC with David Bowie, singing Sonny and Cher's song "I Got You Babe" dressed as a nun.

Faithfull lived on London's Soho streets for two years, suffering from heroin addiction and anorexia nervosa.[3] Friends intervened and enrolled her in a NHS drug programme, from which she could get her daily fix on prescription from a chemist.[4] In 1976, producer Mike Leander found her on the streets and made an attempt to revive her career, producing part of her album Rich Kid Blues. The album would be shelved until 1985.

Faithfull moved into a squat without hot water or electricity in Chelsea with her then-boyfriend Ben Brierly, of punk band The Vibrators. In 1977 she released the country-influenced record Dreaming my Dreams, which reached the top of the Irish pop charts.

Faithfull's career returned full force in 1979 (the same year she was arrested for marijuana possession in Norway) with the album Broken English, one of her most critically hailed album releases. The album was partially influenced by the punk explosion and on her marriage to Brierly in the same year; In addition to the punk-pop sounds of the title track (which addressed terrorism in Europe), the album also included "Why D'Ya Do It", a punk-reggae song with aggressive lyrics adapted from a poem by Heathcote Williams.[5] Broken English also revealed an astonishing change to Faithfull's singing voice. The melodic vocals on her early records were replaced with a raucous, deep voice, affected by years of smoking, drinking and drug use.


Faithfull lived in Dublin after the release of Broken English. Despite her comeback, she was still battling with addiction in the mid-1980s, at one point breaking her jaw tripping on a flight of stairs while under the influence. In 1985, she ended up at Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota, U.S. for rehabilitation on the same year. There she started an affair (while still married) with a fellow junkie who jumped out of the 36th floor window of the clinic after the end of the romance. She and Brierly would divorce in 1986.

In 1985 she performed "Ballad of the Soldier's Wife" on Hal Willner's tribute album Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill. Faithfull's restrained readings lent themselves to the material, and this collaboration informed several subsequent works. In 1987, Faithfull again reinvented herself, this time as a jazz and blues singer, on the record Strange Weather, also produced by Willner. The album became her most critically lauded album of the decade. In 1988, the singer married writer and actor Giorgio Della Terza; the couple divorced in 1991.


When Roger Waters assembled an all-star cast of musicians to perform the rock opera The Wall live in Berlin in July 1990, Faithfull played the part of Pink's over-protective mother.

Faithfull’s musical career rebounded for the third time during the early 1990s with the live album Blazing Away; for this album, she cast herself as a neo-cabaret singer, performing works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. She released a recording of The Seven Deadly Sins and performed in The Threepenny Opera. Her interpretation of the music of this era has been critically acclaimed and led to a new album, Twentieth Century Blues, and a successful concert and cabaret tour.

In 1994 she published her autobiography, entitled Faithfull, in which she discussed her life, career, drug addictions, and bisexuality. The next year she recorded A Secret Life, with songs written with Angelo Badalamenti. Faithfull also sang backup vocals on Metallica's song "The Memory Remains" from their 1997 album ReLoad and appeared in the song's music video. The track reached #28 in the U.S. (#3 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart) and #13 in the U.K.

Faithfull's 1999 DVD Dreaming my Dreams contains material about her childhood and parents, with historical video footage going back to 1964 and interviews with the artist and several friends who have known her since childhood. The documentary includes sections on her relationship with John Dunbar and Mick Jagger, and brief interviews with Keith Richards. The DVD concludes with a 30-minute live concert.


Faithfull has been a prolific artist in the new century, releasing several albums that have received positive critical response.

In 2000, she released Vagabond Ways which many critics hailed as her finest album since Broken English.[citation needed] It included collaborations with Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris, and writer (and friend) Frank McGuiness. Later that year she sang "Love Got Lost" on Joe Jackson's Night and Day II album.

Her renaissance continued with Kissin' Time, released in 2002. The album contained songs written with Beck, Billy Corgan, Jarvis Cocker, Dave Stewart, David Courts, and the French pop singer Étienne Daho. On this record, she paid tribute to Nico (with "Song for Nico"), whose work she admired. The album also included an autobiographical song she co-wrote with Cocker, called "Sliding Through Life on Charm".

In 2005, she released Before the Poison. The album was primarily a collaboration with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, though Damon Albarn and Jon Brion also contributed. Once again critics hailed it as one of her best albums since Broken English 26 years earlier.[citation needed]

In 2005, André Schneider performed a cover version of her song "The Hawk", and she recorded (and co-produced) "Lola R Forever", a cover of the Serge Gainsbourg song "Lola Rastaquouere" with Sly & Robbie for the tribute album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.

In 2007 Faithfull collaborated with the British singer/songwriter, Patrick Wolf on the duet "Magpie" from his third album The Magic Position and wrote and recorded a new song for the French film Truands called "A Lean and Hungry Look" with Ulysse. Later this year Marianne will release a second volume of autobiography called Memories, Dreams and Reflections. The book, to be published by Fourth Estate, is a more personal history than Faithfull. It promises to be anecdotal, conversational, intimate and revealing; a no-holds-barred account of her life, her friends, her triumphs and mistakes.[citation needed]

Faithfull currently resides in Paris, with her manager François Ravard. In September 2006, Faithfull called off a concert tour after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.[6] The following month, she underwent surgery in France and no further treatment was necessary due to the very early stage of the tumour. Less than two months after she declared having the disease, Faithfull made her public statement of full recovery.[7]

In March 2007 she returned to the stage with a touring show entitled "Songs of Innocence and Experience". Supported by a trio, the performance had a semi-acoustic feel and toured European theatres throughout the spring and summer. The show featured many songs she had not performed live before including "Something Better", the song she sang on the Rolling Stones' Rock & Roll Circus. The show also included the Harry Nillson song "Don't Forget Me" which features the line "When we're old and full of cancer, it doesn't matter now, come on, get happy" seen as a celebration of her surviving the disease.

Acting career

In addition to her music career, Faithfull has had a modestly successful career as an actress in theater, television and film.

Her first theater appearance was in a 1965 stage adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Before that she played herself in Jean-Luc Godard's movie Made in U.S.A.. Faithfull has also appeared in the 1967 film I'll Never Forget What's 'is Name alongside Orson Welles (where she notedly became the first person to say "fuck" in a studio picture), as a leather-clad motorcyclist in the 1968 French film La Motocyclette (English titles: "Girl On A Motorcycle" and "Naked Under Leather") opposite Alain Delon, and in the 1969 Kenneth Anger cult film Lucifer Rising. In 1969, Faithfull played Ophelia opposite Nicol Williamson's Hamlet, directed by Tony Richardson and featuring Anthony Hopkins as Claudius.

In 1993, she played the role of Pirate Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. Later she performed The Seven Deadly Sins with the Vienna Radio Symphony. She has also appeared in Patrice Chéreau's Intimacy (2001). Faithfull was featured as Empress Maria-Theresa in Sofia Coppola's 2006 biopic, Marie-Antoinette. Her most recent work is in the film Irina Palm, released at the Berlinale film festival in 2007. Faithfull plays the central role of Maggie, a 60-year-old widow who becomes a sex worker to pay for medical treatment for her ill grandson.[8]

She has played both God and the Devil. She appeared as God in three guest appearances in the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. In 2004 and 2005, she played the Devil in William Burroughs' and Tom Waits' musical, The Black Rider, directed by Robert Wilson.


  • Come My Way (1965) UK #12
  • Marianne Faithfull (1965) UK #15 US #12
  • Go Away From My World EP (1966) US #81
  • North Country Maid (1966)
  • Faithfull Forever (US only release of songs mainly from Loveinamist, 1966) US #147
  • Loveinamist (1967)
  • The World of Marianne Faithfull (singles collection)(1969)
  • Dreamin' My Dreams (1977)
  • Faithless (1978)
  • Broken English (1979) UK #57 US #82
  • Dangerous Acquaintances (1981) UK #45 US #104
  • A Child's Adventure (1983) UK #99 US #107
  • Rich Kid Blues (1985)
  • Strange Weather (1987) UK #78
  • Blazing Away (1990) US #160
  • A Secret Life (1995)
  • 20th Century Blues (1997) UK #147
  • A Perfect Stranger (includes un-released material, 1998)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins (Brecht/Weill songs, 1998)
  • Vagabond Ways (1999) UK #86
  • Kissin' Time (2002) UK #117
  • Before the Poison (2005) US Independent Chart #37


  • Marianne Faithfull's Greatest Hits (1969) US #171
  • As Tears Go By (1980)
  • The Very Best of Marianne Faithfull (1987)
  • Marianne Faithfull's Greatest Hits (1987)
  • This Little Bird (1993)
  • Faithfull: A Collection of Her Best Recordings (1994)
  • The Best of Marianne Faithfull (1999)
  • It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (2000)
  • True - The Collection (2000)
  • Stranger on Earth: An Introduction to Marianne Faithfull (2001)
  • The Best of Marianne Faithfull: The Millennium Collection (2003)
  • Marianne Faithfull: The Collection (2005)


  • Made in U.S.A (1966)
  • Anna (1967)
  • I'll Never Forget What's 'is Name (1967)
  • La Motocyclette (1968)
  • Hamlet (1969)
  • Lucifer Rising (1972)
  • Madhouse Mansion (1974)
  • Assault on Agathon (1975)
  • The Turn of the Screw (1992) (narration)
  • When Pigs Fly (1993)
  • Shopping (1994)
  • Moondance (1995)
  • Crimetime (1996)
  • Intimacy (2001)
  • Far From China (2001)
  • Nord-Plage (2004)
  • Paris, je t'aime (2006)
  • Marie Antoinette (2006)
  • Irina Palm (2007)
  • House of Boys (in pre-production, 2007)



External links

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