“Who can wrap their head around 60 fucking years?” The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards poses that question in the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, referring to the anniversary his band is celebrating this year. “It all seems impossible, that it’s been that long,” he says. Richards is reissuing his classic second solo album, 1992’s Main Offender, on March 18 in various formats, including a super-deluxe boxed set, and he talks in depth about that album and much more in the episode.
“I was offended I had to make solo albums,” says Richards, whose solo work had been prompted by Mick Jagger’s work outside the Stones. “It had never been on my schedule to go solo. Of course, in retrospect, I’d realized that the Rolling Stones were in their own bubble, and there was bound to become a point where we would have to stretch our wings in one way or another. And this was my way, and I enjoyed it immensely.”
Richards reveals that reports of Charlie Watts finishing work on the Stones’ long-in-the-works next studio album before his death are false — and that they plan to finish the album with Watts’ replacement, Steve Jordan. “We do have a lot of stuff of Charlie Watts still in the can,” he says. “We were halfway through making an album when he died… Of course, if we want to carry on recording, we’re gonna need drums, and it’s gonna be Steve Jordan.”
The Main Offender track “Wicked As It Seems” is closely linked with the later Stones track “Love Is Strong” — in fact, it was a deliberate effort to write two songs from the same riff. “‘Wicked As It Seems’ is certainly a cousin of ‘Love Is Strong,'” Richards says. “In fact, maybe a little more closely related than that… Somehow I got to make two songs out of this thing.”
Paul McCartney sent a note to the Stones claiming that his much-publicized comments to the New Yorker dismissing them as “a blues cover band” were taken out of context, and that he was only intending to describe his first impression of the band. “I got a note from Paul about that, saying ‘I was taken totally out of context,'” Richards says. “He said, ‘That’s what I thought when I first heard them.’ Paul and I know each other pretty well, and when I first read it. I said, there’s been a lot of deleting and editing going on here. And the next day I got a message from Paul saying, ‘If you’ve read this shit, it’s all out of context, believe me, boys’… Paul’s a great guy, man. I mean, Jesus Christ, look at the songs he’s written.”
Richards is baffled by Eric Clapton’s vocal Covid-19 vaccine skepticism. “I love Eric dearly,” he says. “I’ve known him since forever and we’ve had ups and downs, but, um, you never know. This Covid thing, it’s split people up and it made people sometimes go awry for awhile, you know?… I just want to get rid of this damn thing, and the only way I can see is everybody does as doctor says.”
When Charlie Watts took ill, Richards was initially reluctant to tour without him. “I was in, ‘Oh, I cannot do this without Charlie.’ But Charlie said to me, ‘You can do it with Steve. He can take my seat anytime. And he talked me into it.’…God damn, I loved that man.”
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