When Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones were arrested on drug charges at Richards’ home, Redlands, on February 12, 1967, many believed that the two rock stars were victims of a set-up.
Turns out, they were right.
The raid on Redlands was one of the most celebrated drug arrests of the 1960s. It began when the infamous British tabloid “News of the World” received a “tip” regarding a fortuitous time for the police to pay Keith’s house a visit. The paper then negotiated a price for the information with local law enforcement.
Why did the Establishment go to such lengths attempting to hamstring the Rolling Stones? Easy. The Stones were swanning around in posh mansions that belied their working-class backgrounds and flaunting their decadent lifestyles. In short, they were flipping the Establishment the bird every chance they got.
Ergo, in the class-conscious Great Britain of the 1960s, the Stones needed to be put in their place. Firmly. Permanently.
On the evening in question, Keith, his friend, art dealer Robert Fraser, Mick, and his girlfriend singer Marianne Faithfull, along with a drug dealer called “Acid King” (AKA Sniderman, Schneiderman or Schneidermann — take your pick) were hanging out, winding down from the day and listening to music.
George Harrison and his wife Patti were also present earlier in the day but as George himself wryly noted, British law enforcement wasn’t ready to come after the M.B.E-toting Fabs quite yet.
The nice, relaxing vibe ended abruptly when 18 policemen showed up at the door(to Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12&35” no less, much to the Lord of the Manor’s amusement.)
After the inevitable search, Jagger was charged with possession of four tablets of amphetamines, and Richards was charged with “allowing his house to be used for the purpose of smoking cannabis.” Both were later acquitted after a circus-like trial. (Fraser served a six-month sentence for heroin possession.)
Amazingly, the police agreed not to search Acid King’s briefcase, which was stuffed to bursting with LSD and other choice illegal substances. When he told the detectives it contained film that would be ruined if exposed to light, they took him at his word.
And Acid King Sniderman left England the very next day.
*insert raised eyebrow here*
Sniderman changed his name to David Jove, settled in Hollywood and found work making and producing B-films. Eventually, he confessed to friends and family that he had been hired by both British and American intelligence to set up the Stones. he was, he told them, “on the run.”
“Jove” took up with a 60’s talent agent named Maggie Abbot in 1983, and he also confessed his involvement in the Redlands bust to her.
Abbot told the Daily Mail:
“David was a heavy drug user but had a quick wit. He was the perfect choice to infiltrate the Stones. He never showed any remorse for what he did. It was all about how he had been ‘the victim.’ He was a totally selfish person. Mick had been my friend as well as a client and I thought about trying to persuade David to come clean publicly, but he was always armed with a handgun and I feared that if I gave him away, he’d shoot me.”
Abbot was also friends with Jagger’s ex-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull, who was famously present that evening. She will forever be remembered as the naked girl in the fur rug with a Mars bar protruding from her … lady bits. (Naked wrapped in fur rug — true. She was fresh out of the bath. Mars bar in lady bits — untrue. But I digress.)
They were meeting for lunch one day in 1985, and Abbot had her boyfriend David Jove in tow. Faithfull recognized him immediately and advised her friend to steer clear of him because of his involvement in the Redlands raid back in the day.
As for the Acid King’s motivation in setting up the Glimmer Twins? Jove’s brother-in-law claimed the erstwhile Acid King became involved in the plot to frame the Stones in the hopes of avoiding prison after trying to smuggle pot into the UK.
As the Acid King/Sniderman/Jove died in 2004, we can never know for certain what was in it for him.
And, in retrospect, it wasn’t all bad news for the Stones. Their suspicions that they had been framed proved correct. The entire incident won them many new fans and solidified their image as Rock’s premier bad-ass outlaws for decades to come.
As Keith Richards readily admits, “I’ve been playing up to it ever since.”