The Stones: Is It All Over Now?

Richards and Wyman blame Mick Jagger for the group's troubles

Rolling Stones Mick Jagger Keith Richards Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame
Ebet Roberts/Redferns
Keith Richard and Mick Jagger at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame circa 1989.
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Have the Rolling Stones had it? Officially, no. Spokespersons for all sides insist that the Stones are still a unit. But given the potshots various members of the band have been taking at one another lately, one could be forgiven for assuming that the Stones have finally reached the end of the road.

The fracas erupted into print on March 2nd, when an interview with lead singer Mick Jagger appeared in a London newspaper, the Daily Mirror. Complaining that guitarist Keith Richards wanted to run the band "single-handedly," Jagger said, "I love Keith, I admire him . . . but I don't feel we can really work together anymore."

Richards responded the very next day in another London paper, The Sun. He said that Jagger "should stop trying to be like Peter Pan and grow up" and that Jagger — who, like Richards, will turn forty-four this year — had become "obsessed with age. . . . He wanted to be young, but I don't see the point of pretending to be twenty-five when you're not."

When asked by The Sun if he could foresee any end to "the bitching going on" between him and Mick, Keith replied, "You'd better ask the bitch."

The Sun also announced that Richards had even decided on a replacement for Jagger: Roger Daltrey, the former lead singer of the Who. "We asked Roger about it," said a spokeswoman for Daltrey, "and he just laughed. He said nobody'd even mentioned it to him."

Then, on March 18th, during a film première at a London theater, Stones bassist Bill Wyman was approached by a video crew from Music Box, England's MTV-like cable channel. Asked if the band was indeed finito, Wyman said, "It looks that way. I think the time comes when, you know, all good things must pass. . . . It's a pity we didn't go out with a big bang but instead . . . with a bit of a whimper." And the bassist put the blame for the group's purported demise squarely on Jagger. "He's the guilty one, really," Wyman said. "He's decided he wanted to do his own thing . . . be famous in his own right."

Although the Stones haven't toured as a group since 1982, Jagger is said to be planning a tour with his own band, probably in the fall, to support his soon-to-be-completed second solo LP.

There was considerable backpedaling in the wake of Wyman's TV broadside. A spokeswoman for the bassist, describing the interview as "misquotes, off-the-cuff remarks that were taken out of context and blown out of proportion," said, "There's no story." Wyman's New York attorney sent a threatening letter to Music Box (which contended that the relevant Wyman footage had run unedited) and also successfully browbeat MTV into not running the Music Box interview.

Elsewhere in the Stones camp, however, responses were more measured. A representative for Richards acknowledged that the group wouldn't be performing together in 1987 but said that the reason was outside projects — Jagger's solo album, for example, and Richards's imminent signing of a solo deal. The Stones splitting? "When they get back together," said the representative, "we'll see."

"There's no official end to the group," said a spokesman for Jagger. "You know the Stones, they go through these tribulations. Hopefully, things will settle down to where people can talk again. But you can never write off the Rolling Stones."

This is a story from the May 7, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 499: May 7, 1987
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