>In the Sixties, Morocco was to the Rolling Stones what India was to The Beatles. Whereas the Fab Four were inspired by the possibility of reaching a state of bliss, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and their entourage were enticed by the prospect of danger, magic and the primeval.
Image: Keith Richards ” Smoking Kif ” by Michael Cooper 1967
It’s easy to see what attracted them. Walking through the souks of Marrakech is like entering a phantasmagoria. The narrow streets are organised craft by craft. A wall of brightly coloured slippers elides into an avenue of glinting brass that then turns into a corridor of mirrors or a cavern of freshly beaten metal reeking of oil.
Parts of the medina are positively medieval. Workers sit in small, dimly lit rooms weaving carpets, chickens are sold alive with their legs trussed together, beggars with hollowed-out eyes have their heads encased in cowls. It feels like being dragged backwards through time.
‘We enjoyed being transported,’ was how Keith Richards explained his early experiences of Morocco. ‘You could be Sinbad the Sailor, One Thousand and One Nights. We loved it.’ The Stones also loved the Place Jemaa el-Fna where snake charmers, tooth pullers, fortune tellers, card players, dancers, acrobats and child boxers still perform to mesmerised crowds.