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June Shelley is a woman who has been determined to get the most out of life-
as demonstrated in a worldwide saga of movies, men and music.

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On a friend's yacht in Newport Beach, California.




Jack and I called this our "wedding photo". It was taken by our friend, actor Lee Van Cleef.




Taking it easy in Shirley's chair on the set of "My Geisha", Japan.




Yves Montand starts to flirt with me on the set of "My Geisha".




Bob Cummings gave me some special vitamins he had brought to Japan with him.




Edward G. was always lots of fun to be with.




I wrote some stories for this English language newpaper in Tokyo. My friend George was the editor.




I fell in love with Michael Anderson, the director of "Flight from Ashiya".




My leopard coat was a gift from Michael when he was leaving Japan.




Shirley Knight had one of the leads in "Flight from Ashiya".




With my second husband, Sidney Shelley at the Cannes Film Festival.




I wore my hard hat while we were setting up in the stadium for a music festival in Kinshasa, Zaire. It was on the occasion of the Ali/ Foreman championship fight.




I attended the Shanghai Film Festival and ran the AFMA booth.




Shooting "Shelter From the Storm" in Pioneer Town, near Yucca Valley, California.






Mick Jagger, as he looked when I worked with The Stones.




Charlie and Keith taking it easy on the back terrace of the Villa Nellcote, the same terrace where I had my interview with Mick and Keith for the job.




The Stones decided to rehearse for their upcoming European tour in an unused cinema in Montreux, Switzerland. Keith was living nearby in a chalet. I was recruited to bring up five guitars from Keith's house in France to the rehearsal. That was a plane trip I won't forget.

 
Inspired by glimpses of the silver screen from her father's projection room in the local cinema, she became a child actress and then in her teens toured the States doing one night stands in theater companies. Settling in California to try and conquer the movies, she starred in a film that writer, producer, actor, director Hugo Haas (known as the poor man's Orson Welles) wrote for her. She heard Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a folk singer-guitar player (Jack has inspired Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Donovan and a whole generation of musicians) perform at Will Geer's herb farm in Topanga Canyon, married him and embarked on an adventure that would last 5 years.

Visiting Woody Guthrie in his hospital room, playing for royalty in London, sailing from England to North Africa to Spain with a friend, sometimes starving and cold on the streets of Europe, June and Jack lived the lives of itinerant "buskers".

Leaving Jack, June worked for Otto Preminger in Israel and became an object of his hate. She traveled all over the Orient, taking an exotic range of lovers. In Japan, she dubbed Japanese films into English and worked as Shirley MacLaine's stand-in, learning the surprising truth about Yves Montand when they had a location affair. She recently found out that Shirley also took Yves as a lover soon thereafter.

She eventually met and lost the love of her life, a well-known movie director. Heading back towards Europe, she danced with a princess in Cambodia and, settling in Paris, ran a film dubbing company and acted in French and American films. Moving to the south of France with her writer second husband, she became the personal assistant to the Rolling Stones during their scandal-filled tax exile, ending up taking Keith Richards and a pregnant Anita Pallenberg for a drug cure in Switzerland.

She "talked dog" with George Foreman and met Mohammad Ali and Don King in Zaire, while working for the groups putting on the championship fight and its accompanying music festival, highlighted in the Oscar winning film "When We Were Kings".

She presently works in International Sales & Marketing at RKO Pictures in Los Angeles. She is a consulting producer on and appears in "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack", a feature length documentary which won the Special Jury Prize in the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.

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After working for the Rolling Stones for more than two years I finally got to see them play live at performances in Switzerand and France.

Excerpt from "Even When It Was Bad... It Was Good" by June Shelley:

CHAPTER 15, THE STONES


Sidney always used to read the International Herald Tribune in the morning before he sat down to work on his new book.

"This is an interesting ad," he said one day, wandering into the sitting room from his study. "I think you should answer it. It might be just what you've been looking for." I took the paper from him and read:

"Wanted. For English organization in the South of France, bilingual, organized woman, salary plus expenses, 25-35 years of age. Please contact Mlle. Bergman, Hotel Grand Bretagne, Cannes."

My curiosity was aroused and I went to look up the phone number of the Hotel Grand Bretagne. As I was leafing through the phone book, the penny dropped. I remembered where I had heard the name Bergman recently. Whenever a story about the Mick Jagger wedding had appeared in the papers, she had been quoted as his official spokeswoman.

The local papers had had a field day with all the turmoil surrounding the event. And it seemed like everytime they needed a statement from Jagger, it always came through a Mlle. Bergman.

"Yes, the wedding is still on. No, the details of the pre-nuptial agreement have not yet been finalized." Mlle. Bergman this and Mlle. Bergman that. And then finally, "Yes, the wedding will take place as planned, now that the pre-nuptial agreement has been signed, according to Mlle. Bergman, a spokesman for Mr. Jagger".

So now I knew what English organization we were talking about. "My God", I thought to myself, "this is a job to take care of the Rolling Stones". It occurred to me that most people who read the International Herald Tribune were based in places like Rome, Paris, London, Stockholm, the Far East or New York. There would not be many people reading that ad in the South of France, ten minutes from Cannes. We subscribed, so got it every day in the morning mail.

I called the hotel and asked to speak to Mlle. Bergman. The phone was answered by a very nasal, American, female voice. "Hello, this is Jo Bergman."

I decided to play dumb. "My name is June Shelley. I saw your ad in the Herald Tribune. I'm very curious. Could you tell me what it's about?"

I heard her take a deep breath. "The job is to take care of the Rolling Stones. Would that be of interest to you?"

"Let me say this. You haven't met me yet, but that job was invented for me."

She let out a screech of laughter. "I'd like to meet you. Where are you calling from?"
"Mougins. It's about 15 minutes from your hotel."
"When would be a good time to meet?"
"How about in fifteen minutes?"
She let out another screech of laughter. "Okay."

Fifteen minutes later I was meeting Jo Bergman, a short plump woman with a beautiful face. She was dressed in a loose, long dress, a style I was not yet used to seeing in France, and had masses of curly, dark hair. I gave her an abbreviated version of my life story. Jo had a warm and bubbling personality, and I felt as though we became friends almost immediately.

"You're right," she said after a few minutes, "the job was invented for you. So when can you meet the boys?" I was amused that she referred to them as "the boys". They're all getting together tomorrow at Keith's house in Villefrance to do some rehearsing. You'll be able to meet everyone at once. I don't drive, so why don't you pick me up?"

The next day we drove to Villefrance together.

"We're going to use Keith's place as our headquarters and eventually do the recording there," she explained. "All the others are in the process of renting houses, or moving in and getting staffed up and we need someone to look after every aspect of their lives."

"I'll be honest with you, Jo," I confessed, "I do know what Mick Jagger looks like, and I think I know what Keith Richards looks like, but I don't know who the others are, or their names."

"Okay," she grinned, "There's Bill Wyman, bass player, moody eyes, thin face, long black hair, slender. Mick Taylor, replacement for Brian Jones, who died, blonde hair, blue eyes, looks like a little angel, brilliant guitar player, a big fan of Keith's. Charlie Watts, drummer, high cheekbones, blonde straight hair, hawk eyes, stares into the distance a lot, doesn't speak much. He and his wife Shirley are the only ones who aren't going to live near here; they've bought a house in another part of France. When they need him, Charlie will come over and stay with Mick or Keith. Keith has a tooth missing and an earring and long hair and looks like a gypsy. Are you familiar with their music?"

"Yes."

"Well, Mick and Keith write 90 percent of it now. Brian used to do a lot. You do know who Brian Jones was?"

I assured her I did. We passed through some stately iron gates, into a circular drive, sweeping through a beautiful garden, which had been allowed to revert to a wild state. The whole garden was swarming with children and dogs and people carrying instruments and chairs. It was as if the circus had come to town and all moved in together. We pulled up in front of the house where Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were all sitting on the front steps. I recognized them immediately from Jo's descriptions.

"Bill, Mick, Charlie," Jo said to them as we headed for the door, "meet June. She's going to be your new assistant." They murmured some hellos.

Inside, everything about the old house was larger than life. We went through a long, tiled corridor, passing doors to other rooms on both sides, and emerged onto a terrace at the back of the house looking out over the Baie de Villefrance. The little village was about a half-mile across the water, and a small beach curved around to our right. Below us were some rocks and a small wooden dock with a boat tied up to it. Large speakers had been erected in the corners of the terrace and there I came face to face with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It doesn't matter how many times you have seen Mick Jagger's picture in the press or on the screen--it is still a startlingly impressive face when you come upon it in the flesh.

Jo introduced me to them and gave a bit of my background. It was obvious that Mick was the leader and was conducting the interview and asking the questions.

"Did I know the region? Was I available all hours of the day and night? What had I been doing recently?"

I told Mick what I had been up to for the past several years. After a few minutes he stopped the questions. "Jo is right," he said, "you are perfect for the job. Are you available to us anywhere else but here?"

"Not really," I said, "I am recently married and I am living down here now with my new husband who's a writer. He's working on a book."

"Okay, fair enough, " said Mick, "But if we need you temporarily somewhere else?"

"No problem, up to a month is fine".

"Can you start work tomorrow? We could really use your help."

They mentioned the salary, which was quite low, and I told them it wasn't enough.

"I was making more than that in Paris." They look startled because that was what they had been told by the French was the going rate. Jo's look suggested she felt somewhat betrayed that I had waited to bring this up until I was in front of the Stones. I asked for about 30 percent more. Mick quickly agreed on the amount. It was still not a great deal, but I really wanted the job. With all the business finished, I got up to go.

As I walked across the terrace, it occurred to me that I should say more. Maybe, after haggling about the salary, I wanted to assure them they were getting their money's worth. "By the way, this isn't my first experience with music; I used to be married to a folk singer and guitar player. We traveled all over Europe together and I was the one who dealt with the bookings and all the rest."

"Really?" said Mick, sounding interested. "Who were you married to?"
I hesitated.
"Who was it?" Keith asked.
"Oh, you wouldn't know him."
"Tell us," Mick insisted.
"Well, his name was Jack Elliott. They call him Ramblin' Jack Elliott."

They both looked at me with open mouths as if I had just said the name "God".


"He's great," Keith said, laughing and disappearing into the house.
"You were married to Ramblin' Jack Elliott?" Mick said, shaking his head.
"You know him?"

"Do we know him?" laughed Mick, choking on his words. "The Rolling Stones are the number one fans of Ramblin' Jack. We've loved him for years, since we were kids. We have every record he ever made." Jo was also laughing, and then the speakers crackled into life behind me and Ramblin' Jack's voice blasted out across the bay. Keith had found a record and put it on.

"There's your old man," Keith shouted over the music as he came back out, playing along with Jack on his guitar. I was astonished. I had no idea that Jack was so well known among rock musicians.

I later discovered, that because the Stones had been ripped off so much in the past by their managers and other people, they were very suspicious of everyone who worked for them. It took a long time to earn their trust. They liked working with Americans because of our energy and the way we worked. They liked working with women. But it would probably still have taken me several months to earn their full trust and to prove that I was "one of them." Because I was Jack's ex-old lady, I had instant acceptance. From then on, whenever I called Keith (which was most days), he would put on a Ramblin' Jack record before he would come back to the phone to talk, making sure I could hear it. When they went on tour in America later on, Mick rang me at three a.m. to tell me that Jack had just been in his dressing room.

Though the ad had said "25-35 years of age", the subject never came up. I was just a few days shy of 36. I found out later that Bill Wyman, the oldest of the Stones, was only four months younger than I was. And I also discovered much later that by putting an age in the ad they were discouraging "groupies" and "hags".

As we walked to the car in front of the house on that day that would change my life, I thought about Jack. I had not had a kind thought about him in almost ten years. But I looked up at the bright blue Mediterranean sky and said:

"Ramblin' Jack, wherever you are…I owe you one!"

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