While in rehearsal, we stopped to watch the royal wedding [of Charles and Diana]. Can’t recall a time I’ve seen him more jealous. For all his chart success, the monarchy was one prize Mick could never quite grasp. So seeing jug-eared Chuck walk down the aisle with that dewy-faced blonde lass was quite the bitter blow—like 20 years of hard touring had come to naught.
Next day, Mick is ready to hit the stage—in white gown, tiara and these Victorian-age knickers he bought at Sotheby’s. Show Di who’s boss, you know? We talked him out of it. And it all seems silly now. Thirty years on, we’re still the Stones, and where’s Lady Di? Six feet under, that’s where.
Writing Classic Songs
You need a power source—something to plug into to get the tunes. Could be God, your old lady, a pint of Jack Daniels.
For me personally, it’s Troy. He’s a Maori tiki-head man I picked up on vacation in ‘64. Comes to life in my dreams.
Fell asleep one day, and there he was—singing a riff that went DUNT - DAH - DAH - DAH - DUNT - DUNT. Woke up, grabbed the guitar, and wrote “Satisfaction.” Turned to my pal Johnny Depp and said, “That’s a real corker, isn’t it?”
Another time, he was singing the same riff but with all the DAH - DAHs in a different place. Ergo “Jumping Jack Flash.”
I call him my “wee wooden angel”—always watching over me. In fact, he’s on my desk as I type this.
Sympathy for the Devil?
We dabbled in the black arts. It was the thing to do at the time. But as with anything, there’s always someone willing to push it a bit further.
In ’75 or thereabouts—could be ’87—Jimmy Page invited me to his cottage. Plan: Smoke a spliff and slaughter a live calf. But I just couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t. I kept picturing dear old Mabel, who grazed on my granddad’s farm. I started blubbering, and Pagey shot me a look that would have put the fear in ol’ Mephistopheles himself.
“Richards, I never pegged you for a softie.” Took the hammer from my hands, and kicked me right out.
Naturally, that story made the rounds. Gradually, we lost the Satanist fan base we’d been building since “Paint It Black”. But I don’t care. Some things are more important than sales.
On Accusations of Sexism
Is a lyric like “Under my thumb / The squirmin’ dog who’s just had her day” sexist? Dunno. On the one hand—maybe. But on the other, you could easily turn it around—make it about a bloke. Women have thumbs too. This is something the feminists don’t take into account. And why our appeal is so universal.
We were never really rivals. In fact, we coordinated everything: record releases, tours, accounting errors. But that eventually backfired.
In ’69 it was agreed among the nine of us that both bands would have a “death.” At Stones HQ, we drew straws—very convenient for my habits then—and Brian had the short one. What no one explained is that this “dying” was supposed to be fictitious—just a bit of fun to stir up the press. So Brian ends up at the bottom of a pool. Meanwhile, Paul is standing there on Abbey Road, shoes off, chipper as ever.
Beatles: 1. Stones: 0.
But you can’t begrudge them their financial smarts. Lucky sods.
On a break I happened to catch a show from America. A muscle man was crushing cars and tossing blokes 30 feet in the air. The cat was green—completely green.
That’s when I turned to my mate Johnny Depp and asked, “What’s this green bloke on about?”
“He’s Hulking out.”
Now, I thought I’d heard it all. But apparently, this Hulk dude was a scientist who dosed himself with gamma rays until he had extra-human strength. With a long tour in the offing, I thought, “Aha!”
Found a doctor in South America to dose me with the gammas. Fame does have its perks.
At three times my natural size, I gave the kids in the bleachers quite a show. But it was murder on the guitar techs. And every morning I had to pay for all the water towers myself, Keith Moon, and Cloverfield destroyed the night before.
I felt very fortunate to get out of the gamma scene before it got really bad. Some of my mates weren’t so lucky.
Don’t see the point of hanging around a computer when there’s so much life to be lived. But I do like one thing on YouTube—don’t know what it’s called. It’s where you watch for several minutes, nothing’s happening, and just when you’re about bored out of your skull, this scary bloke pops up on screen for about five seconds. Love that. Could watch it for hours—and have. Always calling the boys over—”Look at this!” One time I clicked on if—and they were using my face! Imagine that.
Kinda touched, really.
When all’s been said and done, you pay your respects to Troy and off you go.