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Keith Richards – “Mick Likes To Think He’s in Control”

Ian Gavan, Getty Images

Keith Richards makes no bones about the fact that the leadership of the Rolling Stones has been a bone of contention between him and Mick Jagger for the past 35 years. Richards was asked by Mojo magazine, if the band’s ascendance to rock’s top stadium act in the late-’70s seemed to give Jagger the edge on calling the shots. Richards admitted, “Maybe to a point. I only wield my power when I think ‘e’s really got his knickers in a twist. I check in with the band and say, ‘maybe we have to put a rein on this.’ But power doesn’t come into it. Power’s like electricity. It has to be a constant source, you don’t want it fluctuating. . . If your light bulb keeps growing dim and bright, something’s wrong, right?”

He went on to say: “I only say things if it’s absolutely necessary. Mick loves to think he’s totally in control of everything. Why dissolution him?”

When asked if it had to do with “on-stage extravagances” — most notably the quickly scotched use of pre-show entertainers during one of the Stones’ tours, Richards said: “Yes, probably. I remember some stilt-walkers and about 100 go-go dancers that went bye-bye. Immediately I said, ‘Forget it.’ But you have to allow some indulgences to prima donnas, y’know?”

Richards spoke about how things came to a head after kicking heroin in 1977 and trying to become Jagger’s partner in the day-to-day decision regarding the Rolling Stones’ operations: “This was a period during the ’80s. And I have to say in defense of my friend — sure, I wrote the songs, and I’m coming out and doing the gigs — but in that period, I had nothing to do with the running of the Stones. He assumed control. He assumed that he was the leader. And so when I stopped dope, and I said, ‘Hey Mick, thanks for holding the fort, y’know, I’ll carry some of — gimme the load, I’ll carry my load now, y’know?’ And it surprised me that instead of the sigh of relief, he didn’t want to relinquish it.”

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