The Rolling Stones had a Number One album and a few legal snafus under their belt when they fled England in search of a proper spot to record in 1971. Where they landed (the South of France) and what they did there (channeled notorious debauchery into some of the best work of their career) would become the stuff of rock & roll legend. It became Exile on Main Street.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards look back on making their gritty 1972 masterpiece — which is due May 18th as a reissue featuring 10 outtakes — in the new issue of Rolling Stone, on sale at newsstands now and available to All Access subscribers today (May 12th). In new interviews, Richards transports writer David Gates back to the filthy basement of Nellcôte, admitting, “It wasn’t a great environment for, like, breathing. It was very Hitleresque — the last days of Berlin sort of thing.” Sessions were stymied by electrical outages, Jagger’s then-wife’s labor pains and the fact that Richards was working on a different internal clock (“It’s not me being arrogant or anything. It’s just that I was asleep,” he says.)
But beyond the myth of Exile is the music: Richards recalls loving working with guitarist Mick Taylor, telling RS, “Mick Taylor was such a virtuoso, and I was just very raw … if I had my way, he’s still be in the band.” Jagger says, “I think it’s kind of sprawling, so that you can always find other little nugget things that you haven’t heard,” musing on the record’s incredible endurance. The frontman goes on to explain the process of dusting off found tracks for the reissue and how he really remembers those epic sessions today. Get the full story in our new issue now, and revisit the best of our Rolling Stones coverage in the RS archives:
Plus, Phish’s Trey Anastasio, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Elvis Costello and more artists reflect on the album’s impact in Shine a Light: Rockers on the Genius of Exile on Main Street . Flip through our best shots of the Rolling Stones Live. And read more exclusive Q&As with Jagger and Richards as they reveal Secrets Behind Exile on Main Street .
Also in this issue: Hanging with bitchy, hard-partying duo the Black Keys; Tim Dickinson on Karl Rove’s new plot to destroy the Democrats; McKenzie Funk on evil investors getting rich off global chaos; Charles M. Young profiles soul great Solomon Burke; inside the Hold Steady’s new masterpiece; Ozzy Osbourne returns to metal thunder. Plus, find out how Grass Roots guitarist Creed Bratton wound up on The Office and watch an exclusive performance live from the RS offices.
Get an early look at Stones in Exile in our exclusive clip: