“Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?”

by Jon on January 7, 2013

William Rees-Mogg

As the Rolling Stones celebrated their 50th performing anniversary in 2012, this milestone was due in no small part to the above quote by William Rees-Mogg, who died recently.

In February 1967, Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards threw a party at his home near the Witterings. On Keith’s own admission he was so far under the influence of LSD that when he answered the door to the police, he thought they were a group of identically dressed dwarves. Several arrests were made, famously including Marianne Faithful dressed in nothing more than a fur rug.

At the subsequent court hearings at Chichester Quarter Sessions, now Chichester Crown Court, Richards was sentenced to one year in prison for allowing his house to be used for smoking cannabis, and Jagger to 3 months for possession of four amphetamine tablets.

Rees-Mogg, who was then editor of The Times,  although no fan of the Stones’ music, felt that an injustice had been done with the length of the sentences, brought about because of the Stones’ notoriety . His leader quote above was in no small way a contributing factor to the subsequent appeal in which Richards’ conviction was quashed and Jagger’s was commuted to a conditional discharge. If the prison sentences had stood, it would have undoubtedly have been career ending for the band. Richards later said: “We got saved by Rees-Mogg, because, believe me,I felt like a butterfly at the time and I’m going to be broken.”

There are photo collage art works on display in the Pallant House Gallery commemorating the above events.

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