One of the first things you see after stepping into the house on Sutters Way is a big family photo.
The color picture, taken in 1995, shows an attractive group of happy people. As is almost always the case with families, though, the smiles don’t tell the whole story.
But now the woman who lives in that contemporary Coeur d’Alene home has filled in some of the blanks.
Anyone wondering about the blond, doesn’t-look-like-the-others young man on the right side of the family portrait can read “Not Fade Away,” Dawn Molloy Young’s autobiographical account of being forced to give up her baby as an English teenager in the 1960s.
It’s not an unusual story from that era. Except, in this case, the baby’s father was Brian Jones, a founding member of the Rolling Stones.
In her e-book, Molloy Young tells about meeting the boys in the then-unknown band when she was about to turn 17. She would go to their unpolished, poorly attended club gigs with a girlfriend. About a year later, after the Stones started garnering attention, she reconnected with them at an out-of-town performance. They gave her a ride back to London.
“We were friends,” said Molloy Young, her fish-and-chips accent intact.
(Photographs of her with the band and numerous accounts in books and the British press acknowledging her as a mother of one of Jones’ multiple children is just some of the evidence corroborating her story.)
She was 18 when Jones took special notice of her. Though there is ample reason to believe the blond guitar player with an iconic perma-sneer was also seeing other women at the time, they were a couple for most of 1964.
Molloy Young, 67, said she was motivated to write the e-book by her conviction that many don’t understand what it was like for unmarried pregnant girls at the time. Hearing a judgmental younger woman say in a snippy way “I never would have given up my baby” was a particular catalyst.
Still, she knows that her long-ago proximity to rock music fame is what might interest many. And the cover page of the e-book features a photo of the early days Rolling Stones.
“I’m not a writer,” she said. “I just wrote my memories.”
As she tells it, she had a front-row seat for a cultural maelstrom. Accompanying Jones and the band on a concert tour of England, she saw the whole clothes-tearing/ naked-girls-lurking- under-his-hotel-bed insanity.
“I was just a teenage girl,” she said. “I was oblivious to the idea that I was witnessing history. But I was there.”
Which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.
How many people living in well-manicured Coeur d’Alene subdivisions can recall running away from a frenzied mob and being caught by Mick Jagger after stumbling and falling backward on some steps? How many can say Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham disliked them? Know anybody else around here who can say Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were good guys? When was the last time you heard an Inland Northwest resident recall killing time backstage with the singing duo Peter and Gordon?
At the center of much of her story is the troubled, pill-popping Jones, who was said to have drowned in 1969 not long after being booted from the band he had formed.
Molloy Young offers a fairly sympathetic portrait of a young man who could be tender and attentive one moment and astonishingly selfish and cruel in the next. “I was so naïve,” she said.
Because of the collision of celebrity and the mundane, some of her stories are head-shakingly surreal … her father getting mad about Jones calling late at night on the family’s only phone … Jones scrutinizing the knickknacks in her bedroom … Jones sitting around talking with her dad about blues music and cars … a postcard Jones sent from the U.S. going on about what an ass Dean Martin had been.
Of course, the relationship does not end happily.
When she tells Jones she is pregnant, he assures her there is nothing to worry about. But soon, she is denied access to the father of her unborn baby.
Several months after being forced to give up her son for adoption, Molloy Young and her father went to the Stones offices where they accepted 700 pounds sterling as hush-money. Jagger signed the document as a witness.
She recalls him greeting her, “ ’Ello, Dawnee.”
Molloy Young said that uncomfortable transaction had been arranged at the behest of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who had met her father in the course of staging social gatherings at a city estate where the elder Molloy was caretaker.
Eventually the hero of the story emerges. Dawn Molloy married her brother’s friend, Peter Young, in late 1965. He knew her story and helped her in an unsuccessful bid to get the adopted baby back.
Brian Jones had been a boy, she said. Peter Young was a man.
They started a family. They were happy. But she never stopped thinking about the baby she gave up. “People say you will forget. But you don’t. Ever.”
Much of her e-book is about that anguish.
When her family moved to Southern California in 1982, Molloy Young looked down from the airliner taking her away from England and thought about the child she never got to know. Now, she reasoned, it was pretty certain she never would.
But in 1994, with the help of a private detective who tricked Molloy Young’s elderly mother, her son tracked her down. Before long, he was on his way to America for a visit.
It was only then that the Youngs’ children heard the story. “They had known none of it.”
The mother and child reunion led to multiple trips back and forth across the Atlantic and a reconnection that the Internet has abetted.
On one trip back to England, Molloy Young and her son got together with Stones alum Wyman. She recalls Wyman telling the young man some hard truths about his dad.
About 10 years ago, Molloy Young moved to Coeur d’Alene. “Peter and I knew we didn’t want to spend our autumn years in California. Our daughter had friends that lived here and I saw pictures of Lake Coeur d’Alene. It was beautiful. We decided to visit. It was snowing and magical. We yearned for the four seasons again, like our British roots, after 18 years in the blazing sun.”
She has not regretted it. “Who wouldn’t love living here?”
Peter Young still operates a business – residential mold remediation. But Molloy Young, now an American citizen, spends much of her time being a grandmother (two daughters and six grandchildren live in the area), going to exercise classes, taking pictures, decorating and meeting with friends – fellow North Idaho College writing class students and British transplants who get together every month, among others.
Asked how her family reacted to reading “Not Fade Away,” Molloy Young said, “Peter has been amazing and my children have been very supportive.”
She said she doesn’t think the e-book will change her life. “I’m not sure anyone is really interested.”
Either way, she wanted to tell her story. Now she has.
A couple of years ago, Molloy Young was in a supermarket checkout line when she saw a magazine cover featuring the Rolling Stones. She paged through it and was surprised to see herself in a photograph from the ’60s.
She didn’t turn to the next person in line and say, “Hey, this is me!”
She just sighed and put the magazine back.
That was then. And having dealt with her past and moved on, North Idaho’s Dawn Molloy Young is pretty happy with now.