I wonder if Mr. Richard has the same views on the people and bands below these days? A very frank point of view it is, and it is kind of refreshing. I don`t think he would be as candid if interviewed today, but who knows?
Keith Richard on Mick, Beatles, Led, Faith, Tull, Gees
Special by Ritchie Yorke
THE news that the Rolling Stones have resumed personal appearances must have gladdened the hearts of pop fans everywhere. The Stones always were the most important performing group to come out of England.
At the Stones’ office behind Oxford Circus in London just before leaving for America, guitarist-composer Keith Richard discussed the tour, Mick`s foray into films and several popular groups.
“The whole tour thing is very strange man, because I still don’t really believe it. We did the Hyde Park concert and it felt really good, and I guess the tour will feel even better. And we need to do it. Apart from people wanting to see us, we really need to do a tour, because we haven’t played live for so long.
“A tour’s the only thing that knocks you into shape. Especially now that we’ve got Mick Taylor in the band, we really need to go through the paces again to really get it back together.”
George Harrison told me that he thought the reason the Stones were going on the road again was money, and Keith didn’t deny it.
“Yeah, well, that’s how it is. We were going to do the Memphis Blues Festival but things got screwed up. Brian wasn’t in that good a shape and we had various problems. I personally missed the road.
“After you’ve been doing gigs every night for four or five years, it’s strange just to suddenly stop. It’s exactly three years since we quit now. What decided us to get back into it was Hyde Park. It was such a unique feeling.
“But in all the future gigs, we want to keep the audiences as small as possible. We’d rather play to four shows of 5,000 people each, than one mammoth 50,000 sort of number. We’re playing at Madison Square Gardens in New York, but it will be a reduced audience, because we’re not going to allow them to sell all the seats.
“We’re certainly going to have to rehearse like hell. That whole film thing in Australia was a bit of a drag. I mean, it sounds dangerous to me. He had his hand blown off, and he had to get his haircut short. But Mick thinks he needs to do these things. We`ve often talked about it, and I`ve asked him why the hell does he want to be a film star.
“But he says, `Well Keith you’re a musician and that’s a complete thing in itself, but I don’t play anything.’ So I said that anyone who sings and dances the way he does shouldn’t need to do anything else. But he doesn’t agree so I guess that’s cool.
“The trouble is that it has disorganised our plans! It happened just as we got Mick Taylor into the band, and just as we were finishing the album. We had one track to do and we accidentally wiped Mick’s voice off when we were messing around with the tape. And there’s Mick stuck down in Australia, about 3,000 miles from the nearest studio. It’s pretty far out.”
Mick’s absence has also been felt in other areas. The Stones have not been able to record a follow-up single to “Honky Tonk Women,” which was the second biggest selling record of their career, after “Satisfaction.”
“I have a couple of ideas for the next record,” Keith said, “and I think we’ll cut it in Los Angeles when I meet Mick.
“I wrote Honky Tonk Women as a straight Hank Williams-Jimmy Rodgers sort of number. Later when we were fooling around with it — trying to make it sound funkier — we hit on the sound we had on the single. We all thought, wow, this has got to be a hit single.
“And it was, and it did fantastically well; probably because it’s the sort of song which transcends all tastes.”
While we were talking, the muffled sounds of a Creedence Clearwater Revival album could be heard in another office, and I wondered if Keith was impressed by the group?
“Yeah, I’m into a very weird thing with that band: When I first heard them, I was really knocked out, but I became bored with them very quickly. After a few times, it started to annoy me. They’re so basic and simple that maybe it`s a little too much.”
Blood, Sweat and Tears
Blood, Sweat & Tears? “I don’t really like them… I don’t really dig that sort of music, but I suppose that’s a bit unfair because I haven’t heard very much by them. It’s just not my scene, because I like a really tight band and anyway, I prefer guitars with maybe a keyboard. The only brass that ever knocked me out was a few soul bands.”
Led Zeppelin? “I played their album quite a few times when I first got it, but then the guy’s voice started to get on my nerves. I don’t know why; maybe he’s a little too acrobatic. But Jimmy Page is a great guitar player, and a very respected one.”
Blind Faith? “Having the same producer, Jimmy Miller, we’re aware of some of the problems he had with Blind Faith, I don’t like the Buddy Holly song, “Well All Right,” at all, because Buddy’s version was ten times better. It’s not worth doing an old song unless you’re going to add to it.
“I liked Eric’s song, “In the Presence of the Lord,” and Ginger’s “Do What You Like.” But I don’t think Stevie’s got himself together. He’s an incredible singer and an incredible guitarist and an incredible organist, but he never does the things I want to hear him do. I’m still digging “I’m A Man” and a few of the other things he did with Spencer Davis. But he’s not into that scene any more.”
Jethro Tull? “We picked up on them quickly. Mick had their first album and we featured the group on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus TV show we taped last December (which still hasn’t come out, but hope remains).
“I really liked the band then but I haven’t heard it recently. I hope Ian Anderson doesn’t get into a cliche thing with his leg routine. You have to work so goddam hard to make it in America, and it’s very easy to end up being a parody of yourself. But he plays a nice flute.”
The Band? “I saw them at the Dylan gig on the Isle of Wight and I was disappointed. Dylan was beautiful, especially when he did the songs by himself. He has a unique rhythm which only seems to come off when he’s performing solo.
“The Band were just too strict. They’ve been playing together for a long, long time, and what I couldn’t understand was their lack of spontaneity, They sounded note for note like their records.
“It was like they were just playing the records on stage and at a fairly low volume, with very clear sound. I personally like some distortion, especially if something starts happening on stage.”
The Bee Gees? “Well, they’re in their own little fantasy world. You only have to read what they talk about in interviews… how many suits they’ve got and that kind of crap. It’s all kid stuff, isn’t it?”
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? “I thought the album was nice, really pretty. The Hollies went through all that personality thing before Graham left them, The problem was that Graham was the only one getting stoned, and everybody else was really straight Manchester stock. That doesn’t help.”
The Beatles? “I think it’s impossible for them to do a tour. Mick has said it before, but its worth repeating… the Beatles are primarily a recording group.
“Even though they drew the biggest crowds of their era in North America, I think the Beatles had passed their performing peak even before they were famous. They are a recording band, while our scene is the concerts and many of our records were roughly made, on purpose. Our sort of scene is to have a really good time with the audience.
“It’s always been the Stones’ thing to get up on stage and kick the crap out of everything. We had three years of that before we made it, and we were only just getting it together when we became famous. We still had plenty to do on stage and I think we still have. That’s why the tour should be such a groove for us.”