On the eve of their 1969 US tour, Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards sat down for an interview with music writer Ritchie York. The location was the band’s headquarters near Oxford Circus in London. Topics ranged from a newly hired guitarist to an upcoming album to truly hilarious band reviews delivered in Richards’ inimitable style.
During the interview, Richards was unable to provide an exact route. But he noted that the band had to “re-test to really get along” with Mick Taylor. The former Bluesbreaker joined the Rolling Stones following the death of founder Brian Jones. However, Taylor, an already accomplished musician, was not the focus of Richards’ hilarious reviews.
Rolling Stone Asks, Keith Richards Roasts
Rolling Stone first asked what Richards thought of the band Blood, Sweat & Tears. Stone, always outspoken, said, “I don’t really like that kind of music.” He explained that while they didn’t listen to BST much, the soul bands were the only horn sections that really “knocked him out”.
From Led Zeppelin, Richards gave props to lead guitarist Jimmy Page. He said that after listening to the first album several times, “the guy’s voice started to annoy me”. The guy he was referring to was Robert Plant who he also described as being “a bit too acrobatic”.
The Hyde Park stage barely had time to calm down after the Rolling Stones concert on July 5, 1969, when Blind Faith performed there two days later. Composed of Steve Winwood, Ric Grech, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, the ephemeral combo only released one album. Richards was unimpressed.
Winwood, according to the Richards, was “incredible” when it came to singing and playing instruments. But “he never does the things I want to hear him do” before explaining that he was “always digging” into the songs Winwood did with the band Spencer Davis, “but he’s no longer in this scene”.
Even Jethro Tull, a band much admired by the Rolling Stones, was not beyond Richards’ acerbic observation that it’s so hard to make it in America. “Ian Anderson doesn’t get into a cliché with his leg routine.”
Few would fault Bob Dylan’s backup band for live performances that sound note-for-note like their records. But Richards did. Saying he “likes a bit of distortion, especially if something starts happening on stage”, Richards decried the band’s lack of spontaneity.
What about the Beatles, the Bee Gees and their acolytes?
Asked about the Rolling Stones’ No. 1 rival on the rock charts, Richards described the Beatles as a group that “passed their prime even before they were famous”.
By 1969 the Beatles had stopped touring and were concentrating on elaborate recordings, so this criticism seems fair. As for the Bee Gees, Richards said the Gibb brothers are in “their own little fantasy world” where they only talk about “kid stuff”.
If you think he sticks to roasting groups other than his own, think again. In his 2010 autobiography, Life, Richards revealed that his nicknames for Stones frontman Mick Jagger were “Her Majesty” and “that bitch Brenda”. He softened the blow slightly by adding that he dislikes Jagger “only 1% of the time”.
About the Rolling Stones concert tour in 1969
The Rolling Stones’ 1969 North American tour, as you may recall, began on November 7, 1969 with a rowdy show in Fort Collins, Colorado. The tour ended in disaster at Altamont Speedway a day before a month later.
Anyone who wants to see the full itinerary and setlist for the Rolling Stones’ 1969 North American tour can check it out on Concert Archives.
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