Keith Richards 1971 Rolling Stone interview
Brian had some kind of genius for finding people, didn’t he?
He did. He got us together . . . Charlie, Mick and me.
He brought Nico to the Velvet Underground.
He was into Dylan too, very early on. He was the only one of us who hung out with Dylan for a bit. A lot of people know Brian that I don’t know, that I didn’t know knew him who come up and say, “Yeah, I knew Brian.”
He was great. It was only when you had to work with him that he got very hung up. Anita could tell you a lot about Brian, obviously, because she was Brian’s chick for a long time. Brian did have that thing for pulling people together, for meeting people, didn’t he?
Anita: Mixing. Mix it. Mix it, Charlie. Fix it, Charlie.
Keith: We’re just trying to figure out why Brian couldn’t be with Mick and me at the same time. “Why can’t Mick come in?” “No, no,” he’d say . . . he was a big whisperer too, Brian. Little giggles . . . you don’t meet people like that. Since everybody got stoned, people just say what they want to say.
Brain got very fragile. As he went along, he got more and more fragile and delicate. His personality and physically. I think all that touring did a lot to break him. We worked our asses off from ’63 to ’66, right through those three years, non-stop. I believe we had two weeks off. That’s nothing, I mean I tell that to B. B. King and he’ll say, “I been doing it for years.” But for cats like Brian . . . He was tough but one thing and another he slowly became more fragile. When I first met Brian he was like a little Welsh bull. He was broad, and he seemed to be very tough.
For a start, people were always laying stuff on him because he was a Stone. And he’d try it. He’d take anything. Any other sort of trip too, head trips. He never had time to work it out ’cause we were on the road all the time, always on the plane the next day. Eventually, it caught up.
Right until the last, Brian was trying to get it together. Just before he died, he was rehearsing with more people. Because it happened so quickly, people think . . .
Anita: They think he was really down. But he was really up.
Keith: And they also think that he was one of the Stones when he died. But in actual fact, he’d left. We went down to see him and he said, “I can’t do it again. I can’t start again and go on the road again like that again.” And we said, “We understand. We’ll come and see you in a couple weeks and see how you feel. Meantime, how do you want to say. Do you want to say that you’ve left?” And he said, “Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s say I’ve left and if I want to I can come back.” “Because we’ve got to know. We’ve got to get someone to take your place because we’re starting to think about getting it together for another tour.
We’ve got itchy feet and we’ve got Mick Taylor lined up.” We didn’t really, we didn’t have Mick waiting in the wings to bring on. But we wanted to know if we should get someone else or if Brian wanted to get back into it again. “I don’t think I can,” he said, “I don’t think I can go to America and do those one-nighters anymore. I just can’t.” Two weeks later, they found him in the pool, man.
In those two weeks, he’d had musicians down there every day. He was rehearsing. I’d talk to him every day and he’d say, “It’s coming along fine. Gonna get a really funky little band together and work and make a record.”
Do you think his death was an accident?
Well, I don’t want to say. Some very weird things happened that night, that’s all I can say.
It could have as well been an accident. There were people there that suddenly disappeared . . . the whole thing with Brian is . . .
Anita: They opened the inquiry again six months after his death.
Keith: But nothing happened. None of us were trying to hush it up. We wanted to know what was going on. We were at a session that night and we weren’t expecting Brian to come along. He’d officially left the band. We were doing the first gig with Mick Taylor that night. No, I wouldn’t say that was true. Maybe Mick had been with us for a week or so but it was very close to when Mick had joined. And someone called us up at midnight and said, “Brian’s dead.”
Well, what the @#$%&’s going on? We had these chauffeurs working for us and we tried to find out . . . some of them had a weird hold over Brian. There were a lot of chicks there and there was a whole thing going on, they were having a party. I don’t know, man, I just don’t know what happened to Brian that night.
Do you think he was murdered?
There was no one there that’d want to murder him. Somebody didn’t take care of him. And they should have done because he had somebody there who was supposed to take care of him. Everyone knew what Brian was like, especially at a party. Maybe he did just go in for a swim and have an asthma attack. I’d never seen Brian have an attack. I know that he was asthmatic. I know that he was hung up with his spray but I’ve never seen him have an attack. He was a good swimmer. He was a better swimmer than anybody else around me. He could dive off those rocks straight into the sea.
He was really easing back from the whole drug thing. He wasn’t hitting ’em like he had been, he wasn’t hitting anything like he had. Maybe the combination of things. It’s one of those things I just can’t find out. You know, who do you ask?
Such a beautiful cat, man. He was one of those people who are so beautiful in one way, and such an @#$%& in another. “Brian, how could you do that to me, man?” It was like that.
How did you feel about his death?
We were completely shocked. I got straight into it and wanted to know who was there and couldn’t find out. The only cat I could ask was the one I think who got rid of everybody and did the whole disappearing trick so when the cops arrived, it was just an accident. Maybe it was. Maybe the cat just wanted to get everyone out of the way so it wasn’t all names involved, et cetera. Maybe he did the right thing, but I don’t know. I don’t even know who was there that night and trying to find out is impossible.
Maybe he tried to pull one of his deep diving stunts and was too loaded and hit his chest and that was it. But I’ve seen Brian swim in terrible conditions, in the sea with breakers up to here. I’ve been underwater with Brian in Fiji. He was all right then. He was a goddamn good swimmer and it’s very hard to believe he could have died in a swimming pool.
But goddammit, to find out is impossible. And especially with him not being officially one of the Stones then, none of our people were in direct contact so it was trying to find out who was around Brian at that moment, who he had there. It’s the same feeling with who killed Kennedy. You can’t get to the bottom of it.
Anita: He was surrounded by the wrong kind of people.
Keith: Like Jimi Hendrix. He just couldn’t suss the @#$%& from the good people. He wouldn’t kick out somebody that was a shit. He’d let them sit there and maybe they’d be thinking how to sell off his possessions. He’d give ’em booze and he’d feed ’em and they’d be thinking, “Oh, that’s worth 250 quid and I can roll that up and take it away.” I don’t know.
Anita: Brian was a leader. With the Stones, he was the first one that had a car. He was the first into flash clothes. And smoke. And acid. It was back when it seemed anything was possible. Everybody was turning on to acid, young and beautiful and then a friend of Brian’s died and it affected him very much. It made it seem as if the whole thing was a lie.
Did he stop taking acid then?
Anita: No. He got further into it. And STP. DMT, which I think is the worst, no? Too chemical. The first time Brian and I took acid we thought it was like smoking a joint. We went to bed. Suddenly we looked around and all these Hieronymus Bosch things were flashing around. That was in 1965. Musically he would have got it together. I’m sure of it. He and Keith couldn’t play together any more. I don’t know what causes those things but they couldn’t.
Was there a gap between Brian and the rest of the Stones because he had taken acid and they hadn’t?
Anita: Yes, as far as I know, Mick took his first trip the day he got busted, in ’67. Keith had started to suss, he saw us flying around all over the place. He started to live with us. Every time Brian was taking trips, he was working, making tapes. Fantastic.
He didn’t dig the music the Stones were making and he really got a block in his head that he couldn’t play with them. Now, he would dig it. He never really stopped playing. It was just so different from what they were playing, he couldn’t play in sessions. I’m positive he could have gotten it together. Positive. He was just a musician. Pure, so pure a musician.
Keith: I remember once in Philadelphia some kids had picked up on an interview Brian had done with somebody, he’d used one of those intellectual words like “esoteric.” And so, right in the front, these kids had big signs that said, “Brian, you’re so esoteric.” It had that aura. It was down to Sixteen magazine. Everything you did in America then, it could all be in Sixteen magazine.
It was a thing when the Beatles and the Stones came over on that first wave . . . in New York, they were on the radio all the time with Murray the K . . .
Ah, Murray. The fifth Beatle and the sixth Rolling Stone. Nobody realizes how America blew our minds and the Beatles too. Can’t even describe what America meant to us. We first started listenin’ to Otis when we got to the States, and picked up our first Stax singles. And Wilson Pickett. That’s what’s so amazing about Bobby Keys, that cat, man, he was there from the beginnin’.
If you come from the city, somehow you’re aware of black music but if, say, you’re from Nebraska . . .
Nebraska. We really felt like a sore pimple in Omaha. On top of that, the first time we arrived there, the only people to meet us off the plane were twelve motorcycle cops who insisted on doing this motorcade thing right through town. And nobody in Omaha had ever heard of us. We thought, “Wow, we’ve made it. We must be heavy.” And we get to the auditorium and there’s 600 people there in a 15,000 seat hall. But we had a good time.
The only thing that went down heavy there was a cop scene. It was then I realized what Lenny Bruce was talking about. We were sitting back in the dressing room. First time in Omaha in ’64. Drinkin’ whiskey and coke out of cups, paper cups, just waiting to go on. Cops walked in. “What’s that?” “Whiskey.” “You can’t drink whiskey in a public place.” I happened to be drinking just Coke actually. “Tip it down the bog.” I said, “No man, I’ve just got Coca-Cola in here.”
I look up and I got a 44 lookin’ at me, right between the eyes. Here’s a cop, tellin’ me to tip Coca-Cola down the bog. Wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for Coca-Cola. But that’s when I realized what it could get into.
Lenny Bruce gave his life . . .
They really got him strung up. He must have read every lawbook. His last gigs were all Constitution and Federal law. In England, that’s where they did him way back. They left him alone in America until the English bothered about him and when he went back, they threw the shit at him.
The same thing happened to Jerry Lee Lewis, man. He was ridin’ on the crest of a wave until he came to England with his 13-year-old wife. The English busted him for it and said, y’know, “Get out of the country. This is scandalous.” When he got back to the States he suddenly found out he couldn’t gig anymore, straight from being number one.
England’s so strange. The way they’ve taken over the Stones, as “our” Stones and “good on ya, boys,” for making it.
The English are very strange. They’re tolerant up to a point where they’re told not to be. You get to a point up there where somebody turns around and swings a little finger. They’ve had it in their hands so long, the power. They haven’t been @#$%& since Cromwell, man.
Three weeks before I left, I was just goin’ out my front door. Up screams a squad car. “Hello, Keith. How are ya, boy? All right? Let’s roll up your sleeve, eh? Let us have a look at your veins. Not on the heavy stuff, are ya?” Just like that. “How’s Anita and the baby? What’s this? This smell like hash to you, Fred?”
In the States, you know the cops are bent and if you want to get into it, Ok, you can go to them and say, “How much do you want?” and they’ll drop it. In England, you can drop fifty grand and the next week they’ll still bust you and say, “Oh, it went to the wrong hands. I’m sorry. It didn’t get to the right man.” It’s insane.
This whole Western Civilization would be fine if everybody works, if they did it right but they don’t. They’re all trying to @#$%& each other, behind each other’s backs. The people in England think their police are the finest police force in the world. They don’t even know, man . . . what goes on. If they were told, they wouldn’t wanna believe it. What goes on in London. They’d turn the other way and pretend they hadn’t heard.
The 1967 bust was arranged, wasn’t it?
The News of the World got hold of someone who was working for us. I think it was the cat who was driving me, at the time. They knew we were going to be down there at a party. Really, just something I’d done a million times before and I’ve done a million times since. I simply said, “Let’s go down to my place for a weekend.” It just so happened we all took acid and were in a completely freaked out state when they arrived. They weren’t ready for that.
There’s a big knock at the door. 8 o’clock. Everybody is just sort of gliding down slowly from the whole day of sort of freaking about. Everyone has managed to find their way back to the house. TV is on with the sound off and the record player is on. Strobe lights are flickering. Marianne Faithfull has just decided that she wanted a bath and has wrapped herself up in a rug and is watching the box.
“Bang, bang, bang,” this big knock at the door and I go to answer it. “Oh look, there’s lots of little ladies and gentlemen outside.” He says, “Read this,” and I’m goin’ whaa, whaa.” All right.
There was this other pusher there who I really didn’t know. He’d come with some other people and was sittin’ there with a big bag of stash. They even let him go, out of the country. He wasn’t what they were looking for.
When it came down to it, they couldn’t pin anything at all on us. All they could pin on me was allowing people to smoke on my premises. It wasn’t my shit. All they could pin on Mick was these four amphetamine tablets that he’d bought in Italy across the counter. It really backfired on them because they didn’t get enough on us. They had more on the people who were with us who they weren’t interested in. There were lots of people there they didn’t even bring up on charges.
Because you were young kids with a lot of money or because they saw you as leaders of some kind of movement?
Both. First, they don’t like young kids with a lot of money. But as long as you don’t bother them, that’s cool. But we bothered them. We bothered ’em because of the way we looked, the way we’d act. Because we never showed any reverence for them whatsoever. Whereas the Beatles had. They’d gone along with it so far, with the MBEs and shaking hands. Whenever we were asked about things like that we’d say, “@#$%& it. Don’t want to know about things like that. Bollocks. Don’t need it.” That riled ’em somewhere.
It came from quite a way up, that thing. It was CID.
Was the bust physically heavy?
No. It might have been. But we were just gliding off from a 12-hour trip. You know how that freaks people out when they walk in on you. The vibes were so funny for them. I told one of the women with them they’d brought to search the ladies, “Would you mind stepping off that Moroccan cushion. Because you’re ruining the tapestries.” We were playin’ it like that. They tried to get us to turn the record player off and we said, “No. We won’t turn it off but we’ll turn it down.” As they went, as they started going out the door, somebody put on “Rainy Day Women” really loud. Everybody must get stoned. And that was it.
What usually happens is that someone gets busted, the papers have it the next day. For a week they held it back to see how much bread they could get off us. Nothing was said for a week. They wanted to see. Unfortunately none of us knew what to do, who to bum the bread to and so went via slightly the wrong people and it didn’t get up all the way.
Mick can tell you how much. It was his bread. Quite a bit of bread.
Eventually after a couple of weeks the papers said the Rolling Stones have been raided for possession. The first court thing didn’t come up for three months. Just a straight hearing. That was cool. The heavy trial came in June, about five months after. It was really startin’ to wear us out by then. The lawyers were saying “It seems really weird, they want to really do it to you.”
I didn’t play it that way anyway. When the prosecuting counsel asked me about chicks in nothing but fur rugs, I said, “I’m not concerned with your petty morals which are illegitimate.” They couldn’t take that one.
The rumor that there was an orgy going on was part of the thing too, wasn’t it?
Nobody was in the state for an orgy, man. They should have come some other times, they would have really . . . They tried to make it seem as bad as they could. So Ok, here come the sentences. Mick and Robert Fraser, who was another cat who got done, already been in the local jail for two days, waiting. They’d already been found guilty. They were waiting for their sentence until they’d gone through with my one. Mick gets three months for those four amphetamine pills. They give me a year, for allowing people to smoke in my house.
Now Wormwood Scrubs is 150 years old, man. I wouldn’t even want to play there, much less live there. They take me inside. They don’t give you a knife and fork, they given you a spoon with very blunt edges so you can’t do yourself in. They don’t give you a belt, in case you hang yourself. It’s that bad in there.
They give you a little piece of paper and a pencil. Both Robert and I, the first thing we did is sit down and write. “Dear Mum, don’t worry . . . I’m in here and someone’s workin’ to get me out, da-da-da.” Then you’re given your cell. And they start knockin’ on the bars at six in the morning to wake you up.
All the other prisoners started droppin’ bits of tobacco through for me, ’cause in any jail tobacco is the currency. Some of them were really great. Some of them were in for life. Shovin’ papers under the door to roll it up with. The first thing you do automatically when you wake up is drag the chair to the window and look up to see what you can see out the window. It’s an automatic reaction. That one little square of sky, tryin’ to reach it.
It’s amazing. I was going to have to make those little Christmas trees that go on cakes. And sewing up mailbags. Then there’s the hour walk when you have to keep moving, round in a courtyard. Cats comin’ up behind me, it’s amazing, they can talk without moving their mouths, “Want some hash? Want some acid?” Take acid? In here?
Most of the prisoners were really great. “What you doin’ in here? Bastards. They just wanted to get you.” They filled me in. “They been waiting for you in here for ages,” they said. So I said, “I ain’t gonna be in here very long, baby, don’t worry about that.”
And that afternoon, they had the radio playing, this @#$%& Stones record comes on. And the whole prison started, “Rayyyyy!” Goin’ like mad. Bangin’ on the bars. They knew I was in and they wanted to let me know.
They took all the new prisoners to have their photographs taken sitting on a swivel stool, looked like an execution chamber. Really hard. Face and profile. Those are the sort of things they’ll do automatically if they pick you up in America, you get fingerdabs and photographs. In England, it’s a much heavier scene. You don’t get photographed and fingerprinted until you’ve been convicted.
Then they take you to the padre and the chapel and the library, you’re allowed one book and they show you where you’re going to work and that’s it. That afternoon, I’m lyin’ in my cell, wondering what the @#$%& was going on and suddenly someone yelled, “You’re out, man, you’re out. It’s just been on the news.” So I started kickin’ the shit out of the door, I said, “You let me out you bastards, I got bail.”
So they took me to the governor’s office and signed me out. And when it got up to the appeal court, they just threw it out in ten minutes. This judge had just blown it. I mean, he said things to me while I was up there that if I’d caught him by himself I’d have wrung his neck. When he gave me the year sentence, he called me “scum” and “filth,” and “People like this shouldn’t be . . . “
Was the bust some kind of confirmation of things you already knew?
Yeah. It kind of said, “Ok, from now on it’s heavy.” Up till then, it had been showbiz, entertainment, play it how you want to, teenyboppers. At that point you knew, they considered you to be outside . . . they’re the ones who put you outside the law. Like Dylan says, “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”
They’re the ones that decide who lives outside the law. I mean, you don’t decide, right? You’re just livin’. I mean your laws don’t apply to me, nobody says that, because you can’t. But they say it. And then you have to decide what you’re going to do from then on.
It was the summer too. You had just started to turn on to acid.
Yeah, we had picked it up in America in ’66, on that last tour in the summer and we came home and just laid back and started to get it on. We had been working for a long time without stopping, without thinking for a long time. For three years. The bust ended it. We knew it was going to be heavy. We split England about a week after the bust.
Keith: We just carried on down in Morocco for a while. Soon after then, it’s “You have to come back to England to speak to the lawyers.” Slowly you start to straighten out again.
Anita: Mick was on his first trip at the bust.
Keith: I’m not sure. I know he took a lot more after that.
Was ‘Between the Buttons’ cut after the bust?
No, that was done after the American tour. The album that was done while we were waiting to go in and on trial was Satanic Majesties. It was made in between court sessions and lawyers with everyone sort of falling apart. I ended up with chicken pox. At the appeal, when I got up, I was covered with spots, man. It was too much. It was the last thing, they couldn’t take it. They couldn’t even get me into court because I was diseased.
Flowers was put together in America by Andrew Oldham, just to put something out because they were begging for product. In fact, all that stuff had been cut a year or so before and rejected by us as not making it. I was really surprised when people dug it, when it even came out. Andrew was kind of getting pissed off with us by then because we were getting stoned and been busted. It hung him up that he couldn’t carry on hustling because he didn’t know if we were going to jail or what. And we kept saying, “Andrew, Andrew . . . “
I remember “Dandelion” as a single in the States in flower power summer.
With the other side, “We Love You” with the sound of the jail door. We didn’t have a chance to go through too much flower power because of the bust. We’re outlaws.
But there’s a time in everybody’s life when they come out, when they bloom and it was just about then for the Stones.
Keith: Brian was like that at Monterey.
Anita: He was on STP at Monterey.
Did he come back from there with a lot of things in his head?
Keith: Yeah, he did.
Anita: With a lot of STP.
Keith: He changed . . . because we changed around Brian, Anita and I. We had that whole thing in Morocco and that kind of blew Brian too, on top of everything else. The thing I’ve forgotten about was when we were in court waiting to hear if there was to be bail before the real trial, that’s when they busted Brian, man. They had it timed down to the minute. When we were actually in the @#$%& courtroom up in London, an hour and a half drive away, they were going into Brian’s house to do him so that the papers would come out with “Rolling Stones Keith Richards and Mick Jagger on trial for this, meanwhile Brian Jones just been found with this” – so they could lay that on. “Well, they must be guilty.”
Anita: They were going to come down and see us . . . and we called from Brian’s house and said, “Don’t bother. The cops are here.”
Keith: “Don’t come down. We’ll come up.” Unbelievable. It’s really weird because people think of England as far more tolerant and genteel than America but when they laid that one on us, when they want to lay it down, they can be just as heavy. They just don’t carry guns, that’s all.
But some good came out of it. There was a rally and Release grew up around it.
Sure. The thing that shocked the cops was the Times coming out in our favor. The Times! The tabloid of the Establishment came out and said, “Why are you trying to break a butterfly on a wheel? What is this? What have they done?” The Times people, they’re the ones that can absorb, see? They’re the ones who can say, “You’re just a butterfly. Let’s just keep you a butterfly and leave it at that.”
To talk about the music then, with Brian into acid before anyone and having been to the West Coast, was there a reluctance to play just rock and roll?
There was a point where it was difficult to do that. People would say. “What you playin’ that old shit for?” Which really screwed me up ’cause that’s all I can play. We just sort of laid back and listened to what they were doing in Frisco whereas Brian was making great tapes, overdubbing. He was much more into it than we were. And we were digging what we were hearing, for what it was but that other thing in you is saying, “Yeah. But where’s Chuck Berry? What’s he doing?” It’s got to follow through. It’s got to connect.
The feeling that a lot of people had first in ’69, that they didn’t want to work for other people, do you think that might have rubbed off on the Stones?
With the Stones though, you’re always involved in that other scene, that financial scene. Another heavy trip. But it’s more under control now. I mean ask John Lennon and Paul McCartney if we aren’t more together than they are with it. They’re not. Because it’s a very hard thing. You can get it any way you want it, but it’s who gets it for you, and how much do you want? For doing what?
I don’t want to go to America and be called a capitalist bastard because of what the tickets cost. In ’69, I didn’t know what the tickets were costing. You just go and play some music and when you get there you find out and you’re in the deep end already.
What were you paying in ’66 to see us? Because I don’t want to make the prices so high that there is a whole stratum of kids that can’t afford to see us. They’re probably the funkiest kids, you know? They’re the ones that would come and dig to see it and have a good time at doin’ it too.
Like in Poland, in Warsaw in ’67. Nearest thing to that Long Beach riot I ever saw.
You did a concert in Warsaw?
Man, fantastic. We get there, behind the Iron Curtain, do the whole bit, all very uptight. There’s Army at the airport. Get to the hotel which is very jail-like. Lots of security people about, a lot like America. And it gets even more like America as it goes along. We’re invited by the Minister of Culture, on a cultural visit, and we’re playing in the Palace of Culture. We get there to do our gig. We go on “Honksi-de-boyski, boysk. Zee Rolling Stones-ki.”
And who’s got the best seats in the house right down front? The sons and daughters of the hierarchy of the Communist Party. They’re sitting there with their diamonds and their pearls . . . and their fingers in their ears. About three numbers, and I say, “@#$%&’ stop playin’ Charlie. You @#$%&’ lot, get out and let those bahstads in the back down front.” So they went. About four rows just walked out. All the mumma and daddy’s boys.
Outside, they’ve got water cannons . . . the only scene I ever seen near it was when we tried to get out of the Long Beach Auditorium in 1965 when a motorcycle cop got run over and crushed. Exactly the same equipment, man. Deployed in the same way. All the cops had white helmets and the big long batons. Exactly the same uniforms.
There were 2000 kids that couldn’t get in because of the sons and daughters. They wouldn’t have had a riot there if they’d let the kids in. Only later I found out Poland is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
There can’t be many bands that have been played behind the Iron Curtain.
I always figured the Beatles were perfect for doing that. They were perfect for opening doors. But somewhere along the line, they got heavy. They wanted to be the ones to actually do it. They copped all the goodies for doing it. Sure enough.
When they went to America they made it wide open for us. We could never have gone there without them. They’re so @#$%& good at what they did. If they’d kept it together and realized what they were doing, instead of now doing “Power to the People” and disintegrating like that in such a tatty way. It’s a shame.
The Stones seem to have done much better in just handling success.
Anita: As far as I can see, it has always been a question of the Stones being from London and the Beatles being from Liverpool.
Keith: Maybe, because you’re not English you can see it that way. It’s true enough that the Beatles’ first obstacle was to get out of Liverpool and get into London. We kicked off in London so it was no hang-up. Brian knew about those problems because he came from a provincial town in England. He had to conquer London first, that was his thing. He felt very happy when he made it in London, when we were the hip band in London.
For Mick and me, it didn’t mean a thing, – because it was just our place. We thought “Well, at least we’ve got a foothold in our own @#$%& town.”
Do you and Mick still write now the way you used to then?
Well, I haven’t seen him for a couple weeks because he went and got married, but basically yes. We do bits that we hear and then we throw them all together on a cassette or something, and listen to it. Mick writes more melodies now than he used to.
The first things, usually I wrote the melody and Mick wrote the words. It’s not gotten like the Lennon-McCartney thing got where they wrote completely by themselves. Every song we’ve got have pieces of each other in it. The only thing in Sticky Fingers I don’t have anything to do with is “Moonlight Mile,” ’cause I wasn’t there when they did it. It was great to hear that because I was very out of it by the end of the album and it was like listening, really listening. It was really nice. We were all surprised at the way that album fell together. Sticky Fingers – it pulled itself together.
How about “Satisfaction”?
I wrote that. I woke up one night in a hotel room. Hotel rooms are great. You can do some of your best writing in hotel rooms, I woke up with a riff in my head and the basic refrain and wrote it down. The record still sounded like a dub to me. I wanted to do . . . I couldn’t see getting excited about. I’d really dug it that night in the hotel but I’d gone past it. No, I didn’t want it out, I said. I wanted to cut it again. It sounded all right but I didn’t really like that fuzz guitar. I wanted to make that thing different. But I don’t think we could have done, you needed either horns or something that could really knock that riff out.
With “Satisfaction,” people start to wonder what certain phrases mean like “smoke another kind of cigarette.”
A lot of them are completely innocent. I don’t think that one is. It might have been. I don’t know if it was a sly reference to drugs or not. After a while, one realizes that whatever one writes, it goes through other people, and it’s what gets to them. Like the way people used to go through Dylan songs. It don’t matter. They’re just words. Words is words.
There was a time when for the Beatles and us . . . Dylan was another punch in the face. Someone said, “You’ve got to look outside what you’re doing.” He was someone else who was working hard but . . . good musicians too, that cat always picked ’em. Robbie Robertson . . . Kooper.
Al Kooper’s a gas to play with. We cut a version of “Brown Sugar” with Al Kooper, it was a good track. He’s playing piano on it at Bobby Keys’, and my birthday party which was held at Olympic Studios. A lot of people came; Eric’s on guitar. We wanted to use it cause it’s a new version but there’s something about the Muscle Shoals feel of the album one, that we got into at the end of the last American tour. Charlie really fills the sound and it was so easy to cut down there. We do a track a day there which is amazing. If you’ve been playing every night you can record quickly.
That’s why we all moved . . . people say, “Why the south of France?” It’s just the closest place where we can relax a bit and then record. That’s why we’re all living in the same . . . to transfer all that equipment, I hope it’s worthwhile.
After you came back to England from the first or second American tour, did you have some kind of acceptance, were you starting to get respectable?
Still came across some opposition. It wasn’t that complete acceptance that the Beatles had. Always being kicked out of our hotel for not being dressed properly or something.
How is it that the Stones are banned from essentially every hotel in Manchester?
It’s from years ago. They’re so ridiculous with their little rules. For us to arrive at a place at 3 o’clock in the morning and be told we couldn’t have anything to eat or that the drink cupboard is locked, immediately it’s “Wadda you mean?” You’re off a gig and you’ve been traveling for five hours and you’ve been doing it every day for a year. Eventually, they just ban you and night porters put up their bars when they hear you coming.
The funniest thing that happened like that was the court case for peeing in the gas station. That was just in that period, when the Rolling Stones were real big biggies. One night coming back from a gig in North London, Bill Wyman, who has this prodigious bladder, decided he wanted to have a pee. So we told the driver to stop. The car is full up with people and a few other people say, “Yeah, I could get into that. Let’s take a pee.” So we leap out and we had chosen a gas station that looked closed but it wasn’t. There they are, up against the wall, spraying away.
And suddenly this guy steps out. And a cop flashes his torch on Bill’s cock and says, “All right. What you up to then?” And that was it. The next day it was all in the papers. Bill was accused and Brian was accused of insulting language. Because what they did them for was not peeing but for trespassing.
All these witnesses come up. “There he was, your Honor, he was facing the wall, and well, he was, uh, urinating.”
How about the wall of the toilet for the corner of Beggars Banquet?
Anita, Mick and I found this wall. Barry Feinstein photographed it. It was a great picture. A real funky cover. The fight they gave us – we dug in our heels. They really wouldn’t budge. It stopped the album from coming out. Eventually it got to be too much of a drag. It went on for nine months or so.
It was like them saying. “We don’t give a shit if your album never goes out.” After that, we knew it was impossible and started looking around to do it differently. The main thing about having your own label is that you’re not solely confined to putting out Rolling Stones material. If we come across anyone else we like or any other thing we dig that people are saying, we can put it on record. It doesn’t all have to be our product. Somebody said they got hold of some tapes of Artaud explaining a few things. That would be great to put out.
Did the Stones sign a film deal for five films when Oldham was handling things?
I think there was definitely a film clause. We were part of Andrew’s hangup. One of the first things he put out in the English press were that talks were going on for the Stones to appear in their own full-length feature movie. Just to make people keep their ears open a little more. It never got together.
Later on we paid for Only Lovers Left Alive, which is a book. I haven’t read it for years. It seemed corny then but . . . it was quite a heavy book, some nice things in it. We saw some very straight English film directors about it and they really put us off. Their concept of how it should be. Them trying to turn us on to it really turned us off it.
Would you want to make a movie?
It would just have to happen. I couldn’t think about going into it. Mick wanted to do something, and nobody was together enough, he didn’t have a band together enough to do anything and he felt he’d like to learn about films. There was only one way he could do that. And after, we understood more about the movies because he went through a whole movie.
What do you think of Performance?
I thought it was a great movie. There were a lot of things in there. It was heavy, I mean Donald Cammel is heavy, he wrote it. We’ve known him since ’65 or ’66. Anita and I went back to England for that, we hadn’t been living there. I mean they did that movie in ’68. In the fall.
Donald had so many hassles getting it out. They kept making him re-edit it, I don’t know how many times. It was the last film Anita did before Marlon.
Did you go to Rome to write that album?
No, to Positano, south of Naples. We’d been there before. We knew the place vaguely and someone offered us their house there. It was empty, barren, very cold. Huge fires and we just sat and wrote. Did “Midnight Rambler” there, “Monkey Man” and some others.
Do you think Let it Bleed is the Stones’ best album?
I haven’t heard it for a long time and I believe things like “Midnight Rambler” come through better live, because we’ve extended it more. Sometimes when you record something you go off half-cocked because maybe you haven’t ever played it live. You’ve just written it and you record it. From then on you take it and keep on playing it and it gets different. I remember I was into 12-string bottlenecks then.
That song is Mick way out on his persona, isn’t it?
Usually when you write you just kick Mick off on something and let him fly on it, just let it roll out and listen to it and start to pick up on certain words that are coming through and it’s built up on that. A lot of people still complain they can’t hear the voice properly. If the words come through it’s fine, if they don’t, that’s all right too because anyway they can mean a thousand different things to anybody.
But the song’s almost psychotic isn’t it?
It’s just something that’s there, that’s always been there. Some kind of chemistry. Mick and I can really get it on together. It’s one way to channel it out. I’d rather play it out than shoot it out.
People come to Stones concerts to work it out.
Yeah, which in turn has been interpreted as violence or “a goddamn riot” when it’s just people letting it out. Not against anybody but with each other. That rock and roll thing, even when it was young, those songs created a domestic revolution. When the parents were out, there were all those parties. Eddie Cochran and all those people, they created some kind of thing which has followed through now and is being built on.
Like “Streetfighting Man”?
The timing of those things is funny because you’re really following what’s going on. That’s been interpreted thousands of different ways because it really is ambiguous as a song. Trying to be revolutionary in London in Grosvenor Square. Mick went to all those demonstrations and got charged by the cops.
The basic track of that was done on a mono cassette with very distorted overrecording, on a Phillips with no limiters. Brian is playing sitar, it twangs away. He’s holding notes that wouldn’t come through if you had a board, you wouldn’t be able to fit it in. But on a cassette if you just move the people, it does. Cut in the studio and then put on a tape. Started puttin’ percussion and bass on it. That was really an electronic track, up in the realms.
Some songs, with a 16-track, I don’t really need all that. It’s nice to make it simpler sometimes. “Parachute Woman” is a cassette track.
“Salt of the Earth”?
No, that’s studio. Mick’s words, but I think I was there for a bit of them too. I’d forgotten about that actually. Nearly all Mick, that one. Funny year, ’68, it’s got a hole in it somewhere. Coming out of the bust and other stuff . . . I was in L.A. for a couple months.
When did you start to meet with Alan Klein?
Andrew got Klein to meet us, to get us out of the original English scene. There was a new deal with Decca to be made and no one really knew, everyone wanted to know about it, in a business we’d never thought of. Who’s actually making the money. He was managing financial advisor for Donovan and the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, who were all enormous then.
The first time we met was in London. The only thing that impressed me about him was that he said he could do it. Nobody else had said that. The thing that he really wanted was the Beatles and the Stones together, to have them both. He did it. But as he picked one up, he dropped the other. A juggling act. Then he didn’t get Paul either, which was a real fuckup, coming at such a time that it really did them in. In a way, he was probably the last straw in the whole thing for the Beatles. To be set against each other in things like that is such a downer. To have to go through that court thing that they did in London.
Did the Stones decide together to go with Klein?
I really pushed them. I was saying, “Let’s turn things around. Let’s do something.” Either we go down to Decca and tell them to do it with us . . . which is what we did that very day with Klein, just went down there and scared the shit out of them.
You originally signed a two-year contract with them?
Yeah, in ’63. He did a good job, man. Andrew told us that Klein was a fantastic cat for dealing with those people, which we couldn’t do. Andrew knew he didn’t know enough about the legal side of it to be able to do it. So we had to get someone who knew how to do it or someone who’d @#$%& it up once and for all. Then it would be up to us to deal with him.
Andrew had gotten together his own label and we had the feeling that he had what we wanted and could go ahead and do his own stuff. He was no longer that into what we were doing and we weren’t sure what we wanted to do, because of the busts. He didn’t want to get involved in all of that, so it seemed the right time. It just fell apart.
Did it feel like an end to anybody?
It did to Brian, thinking about it. Not to me. I just sort of picked it up again. I think Brian felt that was it. He was really a sensitive cat, too sensitive, the thought of going back on the road really horrified him. In ’66 when we last saw America it was 45’s and teenyboppers and in three years it established a completely different order. What a change in America, just amazing.
And he was OK on that last tour?
Yeah, we were all very stoned. The last gig was in L.A. We came back to England with pockets full of acid. In ’65 you hardly saw any grass. By ’66, it was becoming common. It was still a spade trip before that, a spade laid it on you and it was a pleasure to get a joint. It was one of those turn-ons, like when we get to America, we’ll get joints laid on us if we get a spade act with us.
Apart from a visit to New York in ’67 to do the cover for Satanic Majesties, which we constructed in a day, and a couple months in ’68, I was there just before the convention . . . the only contact I had was the underground press and whatever came through.
Were the Springfield going in L.A. then?
Jack Nitzsche had told me about Neil Young and I had seen the Springfield in a club in New York in ’66. Hendrix too, at Ondines. He was fantastic. Doing Dylan songs and “Wild Thing” in a club with a pickup band. Fantastic. One of those cats you just knew you were going to see again. He was like Brian too. We were on the European tour when both Jimi and Janis died, so I didn’t really get into it till I got back, a few months later.
Did it scare you?
Not really, because I don’t feel as fragile as those people.
You live in the same world.
Yeah, but they were very vulnerable. Like Brian was. He really got it all off on stage and he didn’t want to @#$%& with anybody after. I didn’t know Jimi that well, but he had a lot of people hangin’ ’round that he didn’t need and that’s what screwed Brian. We’re talking about people I really didn’t know that well, so I can only relate it to Brian.
Did you do a lot of traveling in the years when the Stones didn’t work as a band?
Went to Morocco for quite a while. I drove down through Spain. It’s incredible. It’s like getting stoned for the first time to go through the Casbah. Mick and everybody ended up there because it was after the bust. Everybody sort of ran. Met Achmed down there, Anita had known him from before, when she went with Brian, but then in ’67 he was just getting his thing together . . . he had this beautiful little shop and he’d tell all these incredible stories, and he made this incredible stuff. I haven’t been there for two or three years and I keep meaning to go back.
It was quiet in Tangier then. Just Ta few American kids. Brion Gysin was there too. That cat who wrote The Process. Weird. I’m expecting him down here, with Burroughs, they’re talking about Naked Lunch and trying to get it together for a movie.
How did that picture of the band in drag come about?
There was a big rush for “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby?” Jerry Schatzberg took the picture and Andrew ordered a truckload of costumes and Brian just laid on me this incredible stuff. He just said, “Take this.” We walked down from Park Lane in that gear and we did the pictures. It was very quiet, Saturday afternoon, all the businesses are shut but there’s traffic . . .
Wearing high heels?
Yeah, and the whole bit. Bill in a wheelchair. It took a while to get this picture and going back, what do you do? Do you take half the stuff off and walk back . . . or do you keep it on? Anyway, I’m thirsty, let’s go and have a beer. We all zip down to this bar. Hey, what voice do you do? We sat there and had a beer and watched TV and no one said anything. But it was just so outrageous because Bill stayed in his wheelchair and Brian was pushing him about.
Do you like that record?
I loved the track of it. I never did like the record. It was cut badly. It was mastered badly. It was mixed badly. The only reason we were so hot on it was that the track blew our heads off, everything else was rushed too quickly. Tapes were being flown . . . and lost. It needed another couple weeks. The rhythm section thing is almost lost completely.
Along with “Stupid Girl” and “Under My Thumb” and other songs of that time, there’s a real down-on-chicks feeling in it.
It was all a spinoff from our environment . . . hotels, and too many dumb chicks. Not all dumb, not by any means but that’s how one got. When you’re canned up – half the time it’s impossible to go out, it’s a real hassle to go out – it was to go through a whole sort of football match. One just didn’t. You got all you needed from room service, you sent out for it. Limousines sent tearing across cities to pick up a little bag of this or that. You’re getting really cut off.
Of course, there was still “Lady Jane.”
Brian was getting into dulcimer then. Because he dug Richard Farina. It has to do with what you listen to. Like I’ll just listen to old blues cats for months and not want to hear anything else and then I just want to hear what’s happening and collect it all and listen to it. We were also listening to a lot of Appalachian music then too. To me, “Lady Jane” is very Elizabethan. There are a few places in England where people still speak that way, Chaucer English.
Brian played flute on “Ruby Tuesday.”
Yeah, he was a gas. He was a cat who could play any instrument. It was like, “there it is, music comes out of it, if I work at it for a bit, I can do it.” It’s him on marimbas on “Under My Thumb” and mellotron on a quite a few things on Satanic Majesties. He was the strings on “Two Thousand Light Years From Home,” Brian on mellotron, and the brass on “We Love You,” all that Arabic riff.
How about “Goin’ Home”? It was one of the earlier jams to be put on a pop album.
It was the first long rock and roll cut. It broke that two minute barrier. We tried to make singles as long as we could do then because we just like to let things roll on. Dylan was used to building a song for 20 minutes because of the folk thing he came from.
That was another thing. No one sat down to make an 11 minute track. I mean “Goin’ Home,” the song was written just the first two and a half minutes. We just happened to keep the tape rolling, me on guitar, Brian on harp, Bill and Charlie and Mick. If there’s a piano, it’s Stew.
Did you record during those years you didn’t gig?
A lot of recording, and getting together with Jimmy Miller in ’68 or late ’67 when we started Beggars Banquet. It’s really a gas to work with Jimmy. We’d tried to do it ourselves but it’s a drag not to have someone to bounce off of. Someone who knows what you want and what he wants. I wouldn’t like to produce, there’s too much running up and down, too much legwork.
John Lennon said that the Stones did things two months after the Beatles. A lot of people say Satanic Majesties is just Sergeant Pepper upside down.
But then I don’t know. I never listened any more to the Beatles than to anyone else in those days when we were working. It’s probably more down to the fact that we were going through the same things. Maybe we were doing it a little bit after them. Anyway, we were following them through so many scenes. We’re only just mirrors ourselves of that whole thing. It took us much longer to get a record out for us, our stuff was always coming out later anyway.
I moved around a lot. And then Anita and I got together and I lay back for a long time. We just decided what we wanted to do. There was a time three, four years ago, in ’67, when everybody just stopped, everything just stopped dead. Everybody was tryin’ to work it out, what was going to go on. So many weird things happened to so many weird people at one time. America really turned itself round, the kids . . . coming together. Pushed together so hard that they sort of dug each other.
For us too, we had always been pushed together . . . not bein’ able to get hotel rooms. Even now, it’s one of the last things I say, you never pull that thing . . . that you’re a Rolling Stone. I like to be anonymous, which is sort of difficult.
How long did Satanic Majesties take to cut?
It wasn’t meant to be that ambitious, it just got that way. It must have taken nearly all of ’67 to get it together. Started in February and March and it came out in November.
The design was yours?
Michael Cooper was in charge of the whole thing, under his leadership. It was handicrafts day . . . you make Saturn, and I’ll make the rings. I forget the name of those people, those 3D postcards. Thing is, everyone looks round on that one. They take pictures at slightly different times and distances and they’re put together and the heads move but after it gets scratched you don’t really see it anymore.
People always ask, “Are John and George in there?” I don’t even know. I’d forgotten if they’re all in there. They are all in there. And Paul and Ringo.
And who else?
Lyndon Johnson and Mao . . . We just started . . . we had to put a stop to it. We were getting the whole of Sergeant Pepper in there, just for the hell of it. It was gettin’ late and Michael finally got Saturn suspended. . . It was really funny . . . we should have done a gig that night.
Hidden things like that . . . like Paul is dead.
Ohhhhh. We were in L.A. when that came down. Just playing before the tour started. It’s incredible. I’ve never heard the things they say are on the albums. I’ve read about it but I’ve never gotten into it enough to sort of try and slow down a track. Somebody should make a tape of the whole thing and lay it down. All those connections and pictures. But the thing is, he’s alive.
It’s a weird kind of paranoia. To think that people are working on you that way.
“Two Thousand Lightyears From Home.” Were you into reading science fiction then?
Not so much. We got into a lot of those English eccentrics. People finding out all about these magnetic lines. We hung around a lot with John Michelle, wandered around England a few weekends, and he showed us obvious things. I mean, bloody obvious. He’s into the pyramids in Egypt. There are an awful lot of straight professors who are aiding in that thing. Michelle’s incredible. I haven’t seen him for ages. He’s the sort you never see for years . . . and then he pops up.
And all those flying saucers kept appearing. A whole rash of them in England. There was one right near my place that two cops had seen. We all rushed out to a village about fourteen miles from my place. They’d seen it and chased it and lost it. The whole story got lost and you never heard any more about it, but two cops around our way, man, were really spaced out.
Is that where “God ride the music” comes from?
There was a cat in America, Charles Foot, who collected useless information, about levitating plates with violin notes. I don’t know where he is now either.
Where did the title Beggars Banquet come from?
It comes from a cat called Christopher Gibbs. Mick laid it on me but it was Christopher who arrived at that mixture. Although we had all been throwing around Tramps’ Mushup or something. On the same idea. We wanted to do the picture, that idea came first, the beggars thing came first. Sticky Fingers was never meant to be the title. It’s just what we called it while we were working on it. Usually though, the working titles stick. Mick was very into that tattered minstrel bit then.
Did Let It Bleed have anything to do with Let It Be?
Not a thing. Just a coincidence because you’re working along the same lines at the same time at the same age as a lot of other cats. All trying to do the same thing basically, turn themselves and other people on. “Let It Bleed” was just one line in that song Mick wrote. It became the title . . . we just kicked a line out. We didn’t know what to call that song. We’d gone through “Take my arm, take my leg” and we’d done the track. We dug that song so . . . maybe there was some influence because Let It Be had been kicked around for years for their movie, for that album. Let it . . . be something. Let it out. Let it loose.
Do you sing for the first time alone on that album?
Please. My voice first appeared solo on the first verse of “Salt of the Earth.” We did the chorus together, me and Mick. If I write a song, I usually write it all but it’s difficult. Somebody’s always got their finger in there. I thought I wasn’t on “Moonlight Mile” but the last riff everybody gets into playing is a riff I’d been playing on earlier tapes before I dropped out. “Wild Horses,” we wrote the chorus in the John of the Muscle Shoals recording studio ’cause it didn’t finish off right.
Does it have to do with Marian’s birth?
Yeah, cause I knew we were going to have to go to America and start work again, to get me off me ass, and not really wanting to go away. It was a very delicate moment, the kid’s only two months old, and you’re goin’ away. Millions of people do it all the time but still . . .
How about earlier stuff like “Paint It Black”?
Mick wrote it. I wrote the music, he did the words. Get a single together.
What’s amazing about that one for me is the sitar. Also, the fact that we cut it as a comedy track. Bill was playing an organ, doing a takeoff of our first manager who started his career in show business as an organist in a cinema pit. We’d been doing it with funky rhythms and it hadn’t worked and he started playing it like this and everybody got behind it. It’s a two-beat, very strange. Brian playing the sitar makes it a whole other thing.
There were some weird letters, racial letters. “Was there a comma in the title? Was it an order to the world?”
How about “Get Off My Cloud”?
That was the follow-up to “Satisfaction.” I never dug it as a record. The chorus was a nice idea but we rushed it as the follow-up. We were in L.A. and it was time for another single. But how do you follow “Satisfaction”? Actually, what I wanted was to do it slow like a Lee Dorsey thing. We rocked it up. I thought it was one of Andrew’s worse productions.
“Mother’s Little Helper”?
In those days, Mick and I were into a solid word-music bag unless I thought of something outstanding, which could be used in the title or something. I would spend the first two weeks of the tour, because it was done on the road, all of it was worked out . . . an American tour meant you started writing another album. After three, four weeks you had enough and then you went to L.A. and recorded it. We worked very fast that way and when you came off a tour you were shit hot playing, as hot as the band is gonna be.
“Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown,” “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” they’re all putting down another generation.
Mick’s always written a lot about it. A lot of the stuff Chuck Berry and early rock writers did was putting down that other generation. That feeling then, like in ’67. We used to laugh at those people but they must have gotten the message right away because they tried to put rock ‘n’ roll down, trying to get it off the radio, off records. Obviously they saw some destruction stemming from . . . they felt it right away.
The Mayor of Denver once sent us a letter asking us to come in quietly, do the show as quietly as possible, and split the same night, if possible. “Thank you very much, we’ll be very pleased to see you in the near future.” I’ve got that letter with the seal of Denver on it. That’s what the mayors wanted to do with us. They might entertain the Beatles, but they wanted to kick us out of town.
Part of the Stones’ image is sex trips.
Yeah, on our first expedition to the United States we noticed a distinct lack of crumpet, as we put it in those days. It was very difficult, man. For cats who had done Europe and England, scoring chicks right, left, and center, to come to a country where apparently no one believed in it. We really got down to the lowest and worked our way up again. Because it was difficult.
In New York or L.A., you can always find something in a city that big if that’s what you want. But when you’re in Omaha in 1964 and you suddenly feel horny, you might as well forget it. In three years, in two years, every time you went back it was . . . the next time back it was like, it only took someone from outside to come in and hit the switch somewhere.
Did you have guys trying to hustle you?
Yeah, in America we went through a lot of that. In France and England too, not groupies as such, they have some concrete reason for being around. They work for a radio station, they contribute to some obscure magazine. It’s hard to suss if they want to know what’s going on or if they just want to be around for a second-hand thrill. Out of just being around.
Unlike the Beatles, the Stones, and Mick in particular, have always had the uni-sexual thing going.
Oh, you should have seen Mick really . . . I’ll put it like this, there was a period when Mick was extremely camp. When Mick went through his camp period, in 1964, Brian and I immediately went enormously butch and sort of laughin’ at him. That terrible thing . . . that switching around confusion of roles that still goes on.
Anita is something very special for the Stones.
It’s because she’s an amazing lady. She’s worked with Mick, Mick and I work together . . . she’s an incredible chick. She found us, through Brian. A long time ago. She’s been involved in it all . . . Anita . . . yeah . . . there are some people you just know are gonna end up all right. It’s really nice. That’s why we had Marlon . . . because . . . we just knew it was the right time . . . we’re very instinctive people. He’s traveled around, though, even before he was born, to Peru. We found out in South America she was pregnant.
What was South America like?
I really like to go to places I know nothing about. Brazil is an amazing place, aside from the amazing hangovers from the Spanish thing that run it. North of Rio it gets really primitive, and Mick’s been there a couple times.
But even Rio, man, on New Years, on the beach practicing macumba. Whole place turns into . . . thousands of thousands of people living in shacks on hills and every time they knock one down, three or four new ones pop up . . . an even more incredible city is Sao Paulo. Which is, in the south, as fast as New York, as speedy as that in tropical conditions, it pours down rain for ten minutes then the sun comes out and it’s a hundred and twenty, and the place starts to steam. Millions of people rushing about . . . all for Coca-Cola. It’s just like New York.
Lot of good guitar players down there. All over South America, it must be the most widely played instrument.
Did you get the earring in South America?
The one that’s hanging there? Yeah. Not the hole. I bought the earring in Peru. I re-bent this one after I got into a fight . . . I mean that’s why I say I never mention the Rolling Stones when I’m just going about my business. We had a car crash down there and settled it all and some little bureaucrat from the local harbor has to butt in so someone mentioned, “Oh, that’s one of the Rolling Stones.” Is it? Bang. Someone leaps in. Telephones flying. And when someone hits them back, it’s pistols. “They’ve got a gun. Call the police.” Mention the Rolling Stones and get a smack in the face.
I know what we did do in South America. Went to a ranch and wrote “Honky Tonk Women” because it was into a cowboy thing. All these spades are fantastic cowboys. Beautiful ponies and quarter horses. Miles from anywhere. Just like being in Arizona or something.