Singer Marianne Faithfull is in a London hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, according to a statement from her manager.
“Marianne is being treated for Covid-19 in hospital in London,” the statement says. “She is stable and responding to treatment, we all wish her well and a full and speedy recovery.”
Faithfull’s friend Penny Arcade told Rolling Stone that 73-year-old singer had been sheltering in place in London when she developed a cold. Out of caution, Faithfull checked herself into a hospital on Monday, where she tested positive for COVID-19 and then developed pneumonia.
An Instagram post from Arcade cited Faithfull’s ex-husband John Dunbar as saying, “So far so good. But also that she can barely speak and no visitors.”
Faithfull has battled several ailments in recent years, including hepatitis C and breast cancer, and she also struggled with substance abuse, including heroin addiction, in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Faithfull first emerged in 1964 as a 16-year-old with a hit cover of “As Tears Go By,” which (perhaps apocryphally) is purported to be the first song that Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards ever wrote together. Under the tutelage of Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, she enjoyed a string of mid-‘60s hits but soon became more famous as Jagger’s girlfriend; the two were an iconic couple during the Swinging London era, even though Faithfull was married to Dunbar and had a son with him. She fell into drug abuse toward the end of the 1960s and attempted suicide after losing custody of her son.
She and Jagger split in 1970 and she spent much of the decade addicted to heroin, but made a major comeback in 1979 with the excellent, harrowing “Broken English,” the first in a series of albums for Island Records that found her music moving into a sort of stately new wave consistent with but separate from the synth-based sounds of the time. Her voice had grown husky, which suited the unvarnished songs, many of which were about betrayal, infidelity and guilt; a cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” is particularly bruising. Faithfull continued the streak with two more albums before relapsing into heroin addiction in the middle of the decade.
However, she recovered and pursued a career as a latter-day chanteuse, collaborating with producer Hal Willner on the 1987 album “Strange Weather,” with “Twin Peaks” music producer Angelo Badalamenti on 1995’s “A Secret Life” and frequently recording Kurt Weill compositions, for which her voice is well-suited. She even guested on Metallica’s 1997 song “The Memory Remains.”
She veered back into an alternative direction in the early 2000s with the “Kissin’ Time” and “Before the Poison” albums, which saw her collaborating with many younger musicians she had influenced, including Beck, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn and Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan, among others. Later in the decade she reunited with Willner; her most recent album, 2018’s “Negative Culpability,” was recorded with Cave/Harvey collaborators Head and Rob and Warren Ellis. Despite her ailments, she has continued to perform concerts over the years.