The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger Said He ‘Copied’ His Dance Moves From Another Singer

Mick Jagger knows how to bust a move — even if he copied his dancing style from someone else. The music legend who inspired Jagger’s dance moves also influenced the Rolling Stones’ music. In addition, Jagger feels this same artist managed to create an entirely new genre of funk music and inspire many famous rappers and singers.

Mick Jagger sitting
Mick Jagger | Adger Cowans/Getty Images

Where Mick Jagger’s dancing style came from

It’s widely known the Rolling Stones took inspiration from American music, particularly the blues. However, they also owe a substantial debt to funk music. Funk singer James Brown inspired Jagger’s inimitable dancing style.

“I used to aspire to be like James Brown in his moves, and so I copied a lot of James Brown’s moves in the early days,” Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. “I don’t do them, really, anymore.” However, Jagger noted a point of similarity between himself and Brown: they were both in-tune to the rhythms of their music.

James Brown performing “Night Train” and dancing

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In an interview with Time, Jagger explained one of the dance moves he took from Brown’s repertoire. “When you move laterally from one side of the stage to the other, twisting your foot on one leg. I could do that one. But it’s a kind of attitude, too, not just a body move.” In addition, Jagger said he took inspiration from the stage presence of Little Richard, one of Brown’s most popular contemporaries.

The connection between Mick Jagger and James Brown

Jagger’s connection to Brown is greater than simply taking inspiration from him. Billboard reports Jagger and Brown were friends for many years. Jagger recalled how Brown treated him with respect even when he was a young man. In addition, Jagger helped produce a film based on Brown’s life called Get On Up. Get On Up was originally going to be a documentary about Brown. Ultimately, it evolved into a biopic starring Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame. 

The Get On Up trailer

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James Brown’s major legacy

Jagger has discussed Brown’s legacy at length. Brown was very involved with the business side of the entertainment industry. Jagger feels Brown paved the way for later musicians who were entertainers and entrepreneurs at the same time like Jay-Z and P. Diddy.

Jagger told Time he could see Brown’s musical influence in a number of other artists, including Prince, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, and many rappers. He also said Brown’s music, particularly his album Live at Apollo, impacted the Rolling Stones’ work — as did other early funk records. In addition, Jagger felt Brown created an entire sub-genre of funk.

“I Got You (I Feel Good)”

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“[Brown] was into repeating these riffs which were normally used for the outro of a song, and decided to just use that as the whole song,” Jagger said. “He stripped away a lot of the melodic themes, and just made it into percussive themes for the vocal and the horn lines. His influence on that is massive, because he and the musicians invented this whole new funk genre of music.”