Keith Richards: going solo taught me to respect Mick Jagger

Greer McNally
Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform on stage at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on June 15, 2018

He’s the co-founder of one of the most iconic bands on the planet, but that doesn’t mean Keith Richards always gets on with his bandmates. He does respect them though, especially Mick Jagger.

Richards and Jagger’s friendship has spanned decades, but the rocker finally started to appreciate just how hard fronting The Rolling Stones is, when he went solo himself, he explained in an interview in The Wall Street Journal.

“I appreciated Mick’s job a whole lot more. Being the frontman is like nonstop, man. It’s constant. That’s what I had to learn. I came to appreciate the pressure of being a frontman. With Mick, the man knows his stuff.”

The rocker found himself with time on his hands after Jagger started working on his own solo work in the 1980s.

“To be honest, I felt lost for a bit. Then, very quickly, I realised this was an opportunity to spread my wings.” He formed X-Pensive Winos with drummer Steve Jordan and picked up a song he’d be working on for a while Take It So Hard.

Take It So Hard was the first song Steve and I worked on. It had been on my back burner for a while, since maybe ’84, when I first came up with the guitar riff.”

The band quickly realised to make the song really work, Richards had to take centre stage. A position usually filled by Jagger.

“The biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to sing as a frontman. With the Stones all those years, I just stepped up to the mic to sing a few words and stepped back. I wasn’t singing for an extended period.

“On Take It So Hard, I had to think, “I’m gonna have to sing these all the way through. How do I handle it?” I learned a lot about being a lead singer.”

Of course, respecting his friend doesn’t always mean he says the right thing in public about him. In fact Richards had to publicly apologise to The Rolling Stones frontman last year after he joked Jagger should maybe get a vasectomy. The 73-year-old had just become a father again, for the eighth time.

Read more: Keith Richards says 73 is too old to be a new dad. Is he right?

The 30th anniversary edition of Talk Is Cheap, Richards’ debut solo album on which Take It So Hard originally featured, is being released next week on March 29.