Elder Gene R. Cook and Mic Jagger

In 1989, Elder Gene R. Cook gave a speech at Ricks (Now BYU-Idaho) about a time he sat next to Mick Jagger on a plane.  I’m guessing in first class, as I have a hard time seeing the lead singer of the rolling stones in coach.  Most people don’t know it, but GA’s always fly first class on tithing dollars, coach is for missionaries.

Oh yeah, and he wears swaggy pants

In the talk, Elder Cook makes an astounding claim, that is pretty much all anyone remembers from the talk.

…What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people? He said, “Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.

What we’re going to do is re-write the talk as though Mic Jagger was telling the story.  And see why that exchange might have happened

“I was headed to Houston.  Maybe Dallas.  I don’t know I’d had a few quick drinks before I got on the plane, some place in Texas, I was blitzed I don’t know.  This old guy in a white shirt sits down, like next to me.  And he starts praying.  And I was like, oh dude, he’s scared of planes.  But no it was worse.  He was some kind of religious big-wig.”

“And he didn’t even recognize me.  Me.  Like, the guy has no clue what rock music is even.  So I showed him that I was in the plane’s own magazine, dude.  ”

“The the guy totally checks out my legs for a n awkwardly long time.  I have no clue why.  And even though I was reading a magazine the dude would not, shut, up.”

“So then he says ‘Can I ask you a question’, and I’m like, ‘Whatever’ ”  And then, get this, this is his question:

“I have opportunity to be with young people in many different places around the world, and some of them have told me that the kind of music you and others like you sing has no effect on them, that it’s okay, and that it doesn’t affect them adversely in any way. Then other young people have told me very honestly that your kind of music has a real effect on them for evil and that it affects them in a very bad way. You’ve been in this business a long time, Mick. I’d like to know your opinion. What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people?”

“So I think for a second, cause he really believes that music is like devil stuff.  I mean he had no clue who Mic Jagger was, ya know?  And so I *laughter* I totally told him it made kids have sex.  Now he’ll probably go and tell all the kiddies in his church they can have sex if they listen to my music, and my sales will probably go up.”

Cook then says:

I’m sure I had a real look of shock on my face in receiving such a bold response. He quickly added, “Well, it’s not my fault what they do. That’s up to them. I’m just making a lot of money.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not the record of an honest response, a confession of the devil that rock and roll is bad.  This is a troll.  Before the internet, this is a rock star punking a religious old guy on a plane.  

After that, Mick Jagger ups the ante by explaining that music videos contained sex acts and he was on his way back from filming one in Mexico.

Let’s see, which Rolling Stones Music Video was filmed in Mexico


Ah yes, about a teenager and a femme fatal.  Clearly the ultimate in scandal.  Lyrics like “Strapped in a bed on life support tubes in my nose” so sexy.

Whatever I told him in our discussion was white he said was black. And whatever he said was white I told him was black.

The thing is, acting as a missionary, one meets people who have no interest in your particular brand of religion your selling, and they’ll try to turn things on their head because really, they want to enjoy their public transportation without a sales pitch.  And this sounds like a classic case of trying to spook the old guy to get him to go away, or at least provide 2 hours of amusement.

Mr. Cook also informs us of Mick’s scandalous out-of-wedlock children. I don’t know if Mick was pranking him there or not, or if Mr. Cook just decided to make that up to support his case.  We can read about his children in wikipedia with sources cited:

Jagger has seven children with four women (wikipedia sources even for them):

And there you have it.  Yes he has children by 3 different women by the time he was on that plane in 1989, but he had most of them with women he was married to.  Guess that bit needed to be left out, eh Mr. Cook?

He said, “As I listen to you Mormons, your problem is that you think you have things all figured out. Life isn’t that simple.” Then he would go on and explain some complex things, some theory of man. I would answer him in a very simple way from the scriptures, and he would say, “See what I mean?” He was always trying to make things much more complicated than they really were.

And I think this gives it away.  He was familiar with the sales pitch.  He knew what the church was selling, and even says he had taken  three discussions.  When he would bring up a deep thought, the leader of a church answering him would give a rehearsed, scripted  answer like “Pray”.  Mick new the result to whatever he was going to say before the conversation really got going.

So why should we expect Mick’s answers about the music to be sincere?

A little more about Mick, other than he is a scary musician that wants kids to have sex:

  • “one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll” (wikipedia)
  • In 1989 Jagger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones. 
  •  In 2003 he was knighted for his services to music.

Now I’m not saying that Mick is a good guy.  I’m not particularly a fan of his music.  I’m not saying his lifestyle wasn’t crazy.  All I’m saying is, that a general authority was probably being played, and instead of realizing it, he wrote a shocking talk to explain the wickedness of Rock and Roll to college students.

After all, Mick was known for songs such as “You’ll never make a saint out of me” (perhaps a response to Mr. Cook after hearing their conversation was published?) and putting imagery on albums that made southern baptists STILL make websites about it.

Basically, Mick drove his rock groups success on shock and counter culture; and Elder Cook played right into it.


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Last edited by Mithryn on June 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm

6 Responses to Elder Gene R. Cook and Mic Jagger

  1. JT says:

    Umm… here’s a better version of that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wdVdS8CmsQ

    If you watch, it’s pretty heavily about sex. There’s even two horses mid-copulation!
    I’m sure Jagger’s responses to Cook weren’t totally sincere, but I don’t think there’s much reason to doubt, in this case, that Mick was sincere. Have you seen him on SNL? Have you read David Bowie’s ex-wife’s account of Jagger’s affair with Bowie? I’d take his comments to Cook at face value in this case.

  2. Alex says:

    I just always assumed Cook made the whole thing up.

  3. bayzing says:

    Some thoughts…

    The story was repeated so much throughout 1990’s. Virtually every Mormon teenager (and most adults) remember a version of this story. About 5 years ago I got into a friendly argument with a co-worker about this very incident… He and I disagreed about the accuracy of Gene R. Cook’s account (he was a friend of Cook’s son). We both went about doing some research on the matter. Here are a few thoughts….

    I was originally of the opinion that the story was completely false. My assumption was that Cook met some musician that pretended to be Mick Jagger, then completely embellished the account. In my mind, how could anyone (especially a person that was a teenager in the 1960’s) not recognize Mick Jagger. He’s a pretty recognizable superstar. Were there no other people on the plane? Certainly someone would have noticed him beyond Gene R. Cook. Also, why would Mick Jagger (who was a huge international superstar by 1989) be travelling on a commercial airliner? Furthermore, why would he engage in a religious conversation with a Mormon General Authority? There’s a lot that just didn’t make sense.

    Ultimately with a bit of research (and some third hand verification done, as my friend did ask Cook’s son for information). Our conclusion was this…

    1 – The story as told was originally given by Gene R. Cook in Rexburg, Idaho in 1989. However, the event actually occurred many years early (probably sometime in late 1983 or early 1984). Cook was doing church assignments in Texas at the time and Mick Jagger may well have been on his way back from filming the Under Cover of the Night video in Mexico City.


    2- I conceded that the incident likely DID occur… at least on some level. It doesn’t seem likely that Cook completely fabricated the entire story. Mick Jagger could have been wearing a hat, sunglasses, etc. Because this occurred in the early 80’s it’s likely that private air travel may not have been available to him on this occasion. The time-frame does seem to line up. It may have just been a freak coincidence that Gene Cook and Mick Jagger were sitting next to each other on a flight.

    2- My friend conceded that Gene. R.Cook must have drastically embellished the incident. The 1970’s and 1980’s are rife with Mormon leaders telling highly exaggerated faith promoting stories. Some of the most famous LDS leaders of the time were later reprimanded – most notably Paul H. Dunn. Why didn’t the story get out sooner (Cook was a LDS General Authority for many years between 1983-1989)? Probably because it was a non-story. The interaction that occurred was likely very similar to how this article portrayed… A conversation between a rock star and a Mormon leader. Mormon leader asks questions, Rock star gives antagonizing answers meant to discuss and shock the pious religious leader.

    In the end, you get a highly exaggerated one-sided account told many years after the incident took place. Plus, the story was told to a group of impressionable youth by Mormon church leader in an era where exaggerated faith promoting stories among LDS people were extremely common.

    • Frequent Flyer says:

      Interesting topic but what caught my eye was “travelling first class on tithing dollars” comment. During the course of my professional career, including a stint on Wall Street, airlines extend large corporate travel accounts (such as the Church’s account when sending out thousands of missionaries a year) (significant) discounts over the published fares. Further, airlines provide senior executives of the corporations (I’m happy to concede the Church is a corporation but that’s another discussion) either (a) free upgrades to first class or (b) free tickets in first class. Thus, based on my experience, I’m confident that the tithing funds were providently used leaving the question as to why first class and not coach. My simple answer is based on my experience of years of business travel where I flew hundreds of thousands of miles a year. That answer? a simple “why not?” especially in the context of my initial comments.

      • Mithryn says:

        >extend large corporate travel accounts (such as the Church’s account when sending out thousands of missionaries a year) (significant) discounts over the published fares.

        This is totally happening. I should have mentioned. Delta gives the church a sweetheart deal on top-leadership travel because they contract to send all the missionaries they can on Delta. The guaranteed revenue of member-funded-at-full-fair travelers in the 10’s of thousands allows GA’s to take their families on decently-discounted trips.

        > either (a) free upgrades to first class or (b) free tickets in first class.

        Part of the deal is that it is not free. (Source: someone who booked travel during their career for General Authorities). The deal should have been that good, but they were just crappy negotiators.

        > I’m confident that the tithing funds were providently used leaving the question as to why first class and not coach

        If you can get first class for free… why not. Ya know? But no; provident use is just not the case. I don’t want to go into details because it would expose my source and they still have active family; but abuse was ripe in this area. Last minute plane switches that cost tens of thousands based on the wife suddenly wanting to go to Niagra falls, or what have you.

        But I should have included that the Delta Center (now energy Solutions Arena) was part of this negotiation and that they do get a discount on full fair. As well, they get a certain amount of upgrade points and frequent flier miles for all the travel done.

        Thank you for replying!

  4. John Taber says:

    Elder Cook told this story at a stake conference in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2002. It was the first time I’d heard it, though I’d heard of it. That talk was consistent with other versions I’ve seen online.

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