Artist of the Year: The Rolling Stones

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When talk turns to the Stones, he again emphasizes the band's currency, "As I said to you when we were talking with Keith," says Jagger, "I was so insistent that we put out a new album, because I thought the Stones were becoming just a nostalgia thing. And they are nostalgia. They're out there selling their catalog and we're playing these old songs because a lot of them people want to hear. But you've got to put out new things. You've got to think for the future. The past is the past. It's gone, thank you very much.

"I hope younger people just see the band as a band, without the baggage of history," Jagger continues. "You can't deny the history's there; I'm not denying it's there. But I'm not really interested in the history of the band. I'm not really interested in what happened then. I'm still interested in the songs — if they hold up. I'm not interested in doing them just as history. I'm more interested in doing new things. I'm just not that orientated toward the past. I think it's a waste of time. It's dumb. It's done, nothing's gonna change it."

As for the Stones' future, Jagger addresses that in pragmatic terms as well. "You can't particularly plan the future that hard and fast," he says. "I mean, they want us to go and tour Japan, which is easy, lots of money, so you say, 'Yeah, okay.' And then Europe. You say, 'Well, yeah, but not hundreds of shows,' because Europe is, like, a terrible nightmare compared to this. It's not so much money, it's much harder work, it's endless border problems, it's huge tax problems. No one gets that much money, you never know how much you're going to get, the stage can't be as good. It's a logistical nightmare. I was just doing that before you came in: How many thousands of hours can the stage be put up and how can we do it and on and on.

"I hate doing these other things," continues Jagger, "because America's like A and everything else is B — and living with B is never as good. It's like you rent a Ferrari and you have to be in a Honda the next day, and it just isn't very good. And you have to live with it.

"I don't know. After that, I don't know what happens, really. I've got enough planning to get to the end of this monstrous week: pay-per-views, special guests, song lists for Axl." Jagger suddenly brightens, his hard, blue-gray eyes lighting up. "It's quite amusing, really. It always comes out right at the end, right?"

But isn't it hard shifting gears between the business and the artistry of the Stones? "Not really," he says, stirring his tea. "I'm used to doing it. I mean, people say, 'You shouldn't do it. Mick does too much.' But if I don't do it, it'll get fucked up. I read these things always: 'Mick's the one calculating; Keith's passionate.' But, I mean, I'm really passionate about getting things right. And if I'm not passionate about the details, some slovenly person that's employed in this organization will just let everything go, and you'll end up with a lot of crap. It degenerates very, very quickly. To be honest, no one can do that for you. Maybe that's one of the reasons the Rolling Stones thing comes off."

Without a doubt. And Jagger is as proud of his version of the Rolling Stones as Richards is of his. "This was the huge challenge: to do a good record and a good tour," Jagger says. "And I think we've done really well. I mean, the record could have been better, there could have been more hits on it; it could have sold more. But, apart from that, the tour did really well. There's not been one night — and I'm a terrible critic of the Rolling Stones, I've said when they've been fucking useless — where I've felt that the band has not been worth the money paid. I'm quite pleased. I think the Rolling Stones have been very, very professional and kept a very high standard."

This is a story from the March 8, 1990 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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