ON A PHOTO
TO ENLARGE IT:
On a friend's yacht in Newport Beach,
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
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.
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
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
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,
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
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
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?"
"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
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?"
"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
owe you one!"
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