samedi, octobre 30, 2004

Inrocks hors-série sixties

Ca y est, il est sorti. Comme celui sur les trésors cachés du rock, il est pas épais parce qu'il y a un CD joint.
Pour les Stones, c'est Keith qui est interviewé par Kaganski en 94. Pas encore lu. Dialogue de sourds ?
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lundi, octobre 25, 2004

Mick Jagger Octobre 2004

Pêchée tout récemment dans le SFJ :
With Jagger's help, 'Alfie' making a comeback
October 17, 2004
How does it feel ? A rock legend asked that question years ago and now Baby Boomers must revisit the inquiry. Specifically, how does it feel when the AARP starts sending that magazine? How does it feel when the gray hairs stage a mutiny and outnumber the darker ones ? And how does it feel when on a Saturday afternoon in SoHo, the guy in the Scholastic bookstore buying educational materials for his grandchildren is none other than Mick Jagger ? The lead singer of the Rolling Stones is 61 years old. When did this happen ? It's not like he's slowing down.
On another day in New York City at the Essex House, that randy rock 'n' roll twinkle remains in Jagger's eyes when he enters a hotel suite. Looking fit in a gray sweatshirt and jeans, he's athletic-looking, thanks to those marathon rock shows and daily swimming sessions. Despite a road map of facial lines, hints of a rebel remain.
"I can't handle the big questions today!" he says, feigning exhaustion. But he's not the least bit tired, just simply amused that his mere presence in a hotel means bodyguards in the hallways, publicists in large groups and second glances from every single woman in the vicinity. But he's not here to talk about being an icon -- more on that later. Jagger just released a critically acclaimed CD featuring the music from the upcoming film"Alfie." He sings several songs and was the soundtrack's producer, along with Dave Stewart. In November, a new double live CD set of Stones songs is due out in stores, plus a new Stones album is in the works. All of the above leave him with little time to be buying little train books for the grandkids, but that's fine with him."The key is to keep going. You never stop," says the man who is living thelyrics: "Start me up and I'll never stop."
Q. You recently wrote the music for the new film "Alfie," about a notoriousplayboy. Is this a topic you know well ? And how is the life of a rock star differentfrom the life of a playboy ?
A. First of all, there aren't any playboys anymore. They don't exist thesedays. It's rather sad, really. Our modern playboys just wrap themselves around treesin badly driven sports cars. I don't know what the difference is between a rock star and a playboy.
Q. So, you are not a playboy ?
A. I've always been a rather career-minded person and any vague resemblance of my life to a playboy's is merely coincidental.
Q. How did you link up with Dave Stewart to write the "Alfie" songs ?
A. One of the first things we ever did was a song for this movie "RuthlessPeople," which starred Bette Midler. We got paid lots of money, which we then spent on worthless consumer items. [Laughs] So it was easy to say yes again.
Q. What are the challenges ?
A. Doing a soundtrack, you don't have this complete freedom to write. You have to write a specific song around a specific character and enhance a specific scene. So it's very disciplined in that way. In a way it's kind of interesting because it'sanother form of writing. You have to get it right for the scene, which is ratherinteresting. And on top of that, there's a lot of craft that goes on. You have to look at other scenes and make these songs work in other scenes. For example, one of the lead songs on "Alfie" is "Old Habits Die Hard," which is a rather happy-go-lucky tune when you first hear it. But when you put it in another scene and slow it down and take out some instrumentation, it becomes a much more romantic or sadder tune than it initially appears. You need to fit the movie's mood.
Q. Was it different writing songs with Dave vs. Keith Richards ?
A. I write songs a lot with different people. I write a lot of stuff with Dave, I write a lot of stuff with Keith, and I write a lot of stuff on my own. There's hundreds of different ways of writing songs within that formula. I just spent two weekswriting songs with Keith and some are songs where I'm just there on my own and Keith walks in and plays the bass on what I've written. And some days it's the reverse, I go in and play the piano on something he's written. Dave and I are very concentrated and we're quite detailed. We force one another to finish everything. We like to do our work and get it done.
Q. The original movie "Alfie" with Michael Caine was such a hit in the1960s. Were you familiar with his world ?
A. To be honest, I saw the original movie "Alfie" at the time and I don't remember an awful lot about it, except that the character made Michael Caine a bigger star than he already was. But I know of the theme. The Alfie character is a guy that doesn't want to commit to a relationship. I think that's a character throughout the last 300-400 years in literary history that comes off again and again. He's a young guy who has lots of girlfriends before he realizes he has to settle down somehow with one of them.
Q. You've acted in and produced movies. What's the attraction ?
A. It's very exciting to get a good part. But it doesn't happen very often in my case.Some actors don't ever get good parts, so it's very competitive. There aremany good people out there who can sing, dance and act. There shouldn't be a greatdivision between these things. Some people get really annoyed if they specialize in one field and someone else moves into it. But I don't care. A lot of people in music can do all things to varying degrees of success. I don't see why not. I admire people who can do more than one thing.
Q. Will the Stones tour again ?
A. I don't know who's going be ready first -- [the new] Wembley Stadium or the Rolling Stones. Charlie's [Watts] a lot better. He's had all his treatments andhe's been pronounced sort of free and clear of everything, so we're very pleasedabout that. And Keith and I have been writing new material for the Stones' new albums. I don't know when the Stones will actually tour, but I suspect we'll do the album and then we'll do a tour.
Q. So how does it feel to get up onstage these days ? Is it the same thrill as when you were younger, hearing the roar of the crowd ?
A. It's still a wow. Of course, it's the same thrill. It's exactly the same thing. You get in front of an audience. It's a similar feeling to when I first started. when I get up now. You know, in a lot of ways, it's exactly the same. I don't think that the thrill or the excitement that drew you to it in the beginning is the same.But it's still a thrill.
Q. Can you define that thrill ?
A. It's about never really knowing what's going to happen. You never never know what the audience is going to be like. You never know how they're going to behave. You expect them to do certain things, but they don't always do that. You don't always do the same things that you've done the night before. I think that's what brings you into live playing and what makes live playing so interesting as opposed to being in the studio.

Gassian, suite

Bon, donc ce qui précède est un merveilleux bouquin à 38,11 euros "Photographies 1970-2001" où beaucoup de ceux qui portent ou portèrent guitare ou micros - mais pas que - dans le laps de temps en question figurent.

dimanche, octobre 24, 2004

Sir Claude Gassian

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Bouquin paru chez la Martinière, où le photographe égrène ses clichés rock qui n'en sont pas. Du grand grand art, cette faculté de capter l'artiste et ses fêlures, dans des moments particuliers, loin des regards parfois. Mick qui repasse, Keith dans quelque mauvais snack qu'on imagine dans le middle west profond, le regard vague et triste, ou complètement allumé dans cette photo qu'il repiquera sur son 45 t Run Rodolph run... Imaginez un mec comme Doisneau photographiant des rock stars, on en est pas loin, même regard, même humanité.

Inrocks hors-série

Ca, c'est un peu de teasing, deux numéros spéciaux
des Inrocks sur les 50 ans du rock.
Le premier, Trésors cachés du rock est pas top.
Mais le 2ème, spécial 70ies, merveille ô merveille !
Y'en a eu un sur les 80/90 (que je n'ai pas),
et on attend donc celui sur les SIXTIES,
où seront les Stones.
A suivre...

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Mojo 2004

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NME Originals

La machine à fantasmes est en couverture,
mais dedans Keith est interviewé lui aussi :
ça date de 74, c'est à Cheyne Walk
(pas encore vendue pour payer les frais d'
avocats), et il parle à Nick Kent.
Pas encore lue.
Numéro toujours en vente à ce jour.
Signaler leur très beau hors-série spécial
Stones années 60 avec plein de coupures
de presse de l'époque. Hélàs je l'ai filé à
quelqu'un et n'ai pu le retrouver ensuite en

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petite bête qui monte

Oooooopppssss.... les ayatollahs vont mugir (et alors ?!)
Dommage que Mojo ne fasse pas des éditions françaises
pour les numéros stoniens également.
Le marché du scarabée serait il plus porteur ?

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Mojo 2003

Ah celui-là, pour tout l'or du monde...

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Uncut 60 ans de Keith

Ils en parlent tous, ils prennent des pincettes,
mais ils disent quand même quelques vérités,
à l'anglaise, entre les lignes...

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Uncut 2002

Contient une belle et très longue interview du K
à la veille de la tournée US,
l'occasion de vérifier une nouvelle fois que la presse
musicale anglaise, c'est quelque chose !!!

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Mojo à 4 couv' (2002)

Special Keith edition, c'était la seule qui restait !!

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Stones News

Très beau numéro du fan club français des Stones,
tout entier consacré à Exile à l'occasion de la sortie
du bouquin de Tarlé.

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Inrocks 2002

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R&F 99

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se définissant comme le magazine des Stones (mais Monsieur Manoeuvre vous z'avez encore du boulot avant de savoir l'interviewer comme vos confrères anglo-saxons !)

Peellaert & Cohn

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Encore des images pieuses...

lundi, octobre 18, 2004


... la seule qu'on s'autorisera à mettre ici...

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Des amygdales en or...

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Lucie de la Falaise & Marlon

Elle (1994)

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Quand Bill m'écrit...

Merci à Jean Mi pour cet autographe, merci aussi de lui avoir raconté l'anecdote du Little Red Rooster, et de m'avoir dit que ça l'avait fait rire...
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Anita - Marie Claire (1ère page only)

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dimanche, octobre 17, 2004

Best cover (1974)

En attendant de me décider à le mettre ici, au moins la couverture.
A venir aussi : Rolling Stone 71 & Guitar Player 76 (2 itw du K.).
Vu sur le site journaux collection, les vieux Rock'n Folk y sont (pas tous !) à des prix prohibitifs (45 euros ceux de 1970!!!).
On va regretter longtemps encore d'avoir jeté tout ça...

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STP cover (new US edition)

Bouquin disponible sur Amazon, sans, hélas, les photos centrales de l'édition française (objet rare et précieux !) :

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Liens divers

(en relation avec la musique :
presse, photos, …)

Another blog

Paris & MJ - 2004 (4)

Et sinon... plus au sud... pour l'hiver...
chercher Stargroves

Paris & MJ - 2004 (3)

La rue ? L'étage ?
Ah non !

Paris & MJ - 2004 (2)

On approche, vers chez l'Idole, c'est sur la droite

Paris & MJ - 2004

L'église qu'on voit là, et ses cloches bruyantes qu'on n'entend pas ici, sont causes de probables réveils matinaux de l'Idole...
Ora et labora, même chez les Stones.

Nellcôte 2003 (10)

Vue depuis Nellcôte sur Villefranche :
& pour prolonger sur Nellcôte :

Nellcôte 2003 (9)

Nellcôte 2003 (8)

Nellcôte 2003 (7)

Un bout de l'arbre monstrueux qui cache la maison...

Nellcôte 2003 (6)

Le portail, mal cadré (plein de bagnoles qui gênaient). Un type de l'EDF venait de sortir du domaine, espérons pour lui que le compteur était à la cave...

Nellcôte 2003 (5)

Domaine de Nellcôte, ça c'est juste la maison du gardien !

Nellcote 2003 (4)

Nellcote 2003 (3)

Nellcote 2003 (2)

Nellcote 2003

dimanche, octobre 10, 2004

Archéo (James Phelge)

No Stone Unturned
Author James Phelge provides a first-handlook at the early days of the Rolling Stones
by Chris Parcellin
Have you ever wondered what Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were like before the models, private jets and drug busts? Well, get ready, because your questions are about to be graphic detail. Just released in the United States Nankering with the Stones (originally titled Phelge's Stones ) chronicles the early, poverty-stricken days of Rolling Stones Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones---living in a small flat in London's Edith Grove section. The man who provides us with this window into the making of the legendary rock group is James Phelge. Phelge was a roommate and friend to the Stones in the early-'60s, and had a front row seat as they evolved from an unknown local band into international superstars. And Phelge proves to be more than up to the task of capturing the real people behind the public facade. His biting humor and incisive commentary show the Stones as three-dimensional human beings, as no other biography has. And his genuine fondest and respect for the band shows through at all times. D-FILED had the privilege of speaking to Phelge recently, and he did not disappoint.
How long did it take you to write Nankering with the Stones?
James Phelge: I suppose the real answer is thirty-five years, although physically, it was only three. There were lots of little myths and facts about the Stones that were getting out of perspective, or just being told totally wrong. I decided to write the book just to correct some things and also tell what actually happened. It became an evening job after I returned home from running my business. I did have 'off' periods though, where I did nothing for two or three months.
Was it something that you'd planned to do for a long time?
JP: I had thought about it occasionally over the years but it was really a part of my life that was extinct. I'm not a great believer in going back. You usually get disappointed
When you first heard the Stones---what did you think?
JP: I thought they were great. Maybe it was just that they were playing a different kind of music compared to the pop pap being put out at the time. And playing it good. Maybe it was because they were my age and part of my local scene. Whatever it was, they had an air of rebellion about them. Maybe we all did back then, and it was a mutual recognition among those visited the clubs on Stones nights. On the other hand maybe it was just the fact that it was cheap to get in.:-))
It seems like Bill Wyman didn't like you very much. What was his problem?
JP: Wyman is aware that they never wanted him the band from the start. One of the Stones office staff told me after Bill left the band that Wyman had himself said that it had stayed like that for thirty years. Although he was in the band, I still don't think he ever grasped or understood what the Stones were about. Maybe it was because he was boring......yawn.
It sounds like--from reading your book---that even in the early days, Keith was someone who'd never backdown from a fight. Did you see him get into many scraps?
JP: Not really. It is just that he would stand up for himself. He was never afraid to be outspoken. I could not imagine him giving way to someone if he thought he was right or had just been insulted. Sometimes people would find with Keith they'd bit off more than they could chew and backdown. Talk is cheap as they say...unless you're Marlon Brando, then it's about ten dollars a word. In Stanley Booth's book The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones he gives a brief overview (mostly from Keith's perspective) of the same era your book covers.
Did he have his facts straight?
JP: Dunno. I never read it. Nothing against his book but I have never read any Stones book. Never felt the need. Most of the people who write about them don't or won't ever really know them. Anyone from the outside is going to already be tarnished by the hype around band. They will never get to grips with the normality of the guys as ordinary people. They never knew them then of course.
Is the stuff about Jagger wandering around Edith Grove in a housecoat true? Do you think his sexuality was questionable---or was he just goofy?
JP: He had a womans nylon dressing gown he wore occasionally. I think he nicked it from one of the girls downstairs. His sexuality is not worth arguing over. Mick's been in the papers for 30 years with a different chick each week and the same before he was famous.
Where does this gay bit come in...? Do you think Brian Jones has gotten a bad rap over the years?
JP: There is no doubt that his memory has been maligned over the years. It's sad to still see that no one ever quotes anything nice about him. I don't mean just in terms of his music ability which would have grown over the years and moved with the progressive music, he was that capable. People always quote his drugs problem and the various kids etc. He could be difficult to deal with, sure, but so are many people. I can think of one or two others who have had a drug problem not to mention illegitimate kids. Should be easy to pick two names to go in that last sentence. Maybe the fact that Brian's memory won't die bugs some people.
Did success change those guys a lot?
JP: I can still see the original guys and their attitudes come through on occasion. They were bound to have changed in someways - maybe a few airs and graces with Jagger. As I said earlier, most people never knew them so would not know what to look for. They are expected to be entertainers now and that is what they do. They still have their original attitudes, if you know where to look. I sometimes see the fleeting looks that cross their faces when they're pissed off, although the mask only drops for second.
Has the book been a big success for you?
JP: Not as much as I would have liked. Distribution was the problem. Big book stores won't buy books anyway, they want them on consignment. Like, I wanna sponsor Barnes and Noble? Things have improved for me. The US rights have been sold to a Chicago publisher and the new American Edition came out April 1, 2000. It is now called Nankering with the Rolling Stones. Not my choice of title, but I guess it's better than Eating Shit with Keith, Maybe not tho'...
Where can fans order it?
JP: It is now available from any US bookstore, as well as It is also now part of official Stones merchandising and will be available from their website soon. More details are on my website.
Any plans for a follow-up book?
JP: I'm working on a second, but nothing to add to that at the moment.
Have you heard any reaction to Nankering with the Stones from Keith or the other Stones?
JP: Not at all, apart from the fact Jane Rose rang after a year saying 'If I give Mick my house he won't sue.' Just kidding. She rang about it becoming official merchandise, so I guess it's okay. Wyman actually bought a copy while I was in America. I gave another copy to Keith personally, but he was on his way to gig. Knowing him, he probably lost it.
©2000 Chris Parcellin, All rights Reserved.

Long View Farm 1981

Jane Rose
"People think I get my way a lot more than I do," Keith continued." You don't know what it's like dealing with the people I have to deal with. If it wasn't for the music, I wouldn't be doing it.""Oh, Keith! Keith!" Jane Rose tends to shriek a bit when she talks. Her job is to take care of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and she's very protective of them. "Oh, I knew I'd find you in here, in this ice-cold control room, talking to Greg and listening to records." Keith hit the "mute" button on the console, lowering the volume level in the room. "Gil's his name," he said. "Gil, then. Listen, Keith-eee, we simply must begin to think about getting on our way. Greg, here — Gil, I mean — has those two pilots waiting inside that gorgeous airplane, and we simply can't keep them waiting, can we? You know what you have to do for tomorrow. There's the dentist again, and there's the Consulate, and there's Renaldo, in Rome, and we're way up here in goodness-knows-where. And I know Patti must get back to the city, too, mustn't you, dear, and I know ..." "We're not going anywhere," Keith said, returning the level of the studio monitors to full, undistorted blast. "We're not going anywhere," he said again, I think, judging from the way his lips moved. I smiled, having only moments ago taken Keith behind the moose head in the library with our two full glasses of Stolni' and orange juice. "You don't have to go anywhere tonight, Keith," I had said. "It just starts to get fun here after supper. You can hang out, listen to some records, fool around, anything you want. The place is yours." "Yeah," he muttered through a smile. "I don't have to go anywhere, do I?" "No, Keith," I said, "you don't." And he didn't go anywhere. Jane brought the word back outside to Alan, who was tired and just as happy to stay, and the pilots were released from any duty within Gil's gorgeous airplane. Keith stayed, and stayed largely inside the control room, playing and listening to music, for the better part of three days.
"Get Jane up," he said at one point. It's always dark in the control room, particularly when the black velvet curtains are pulled, and so it's difficult to tell what time it is, or whether it's night or day. I think it was about 5 AM. We had just gone through a half a dozen versions of Merle Haggard's "Sing Me Back Home," Keith singing and accompanying himself on the piano. "Tell her to get Woody on the phone, and Bobby Keys, too." "Keith," I asked, "do you know what time it is? I don't." "Doesn't matter. I never get a chance to do this. You don't understand. I suppose you think it's all fun being me. Listen, I never get a chance to sing by myself like this — play the piano — without some bastard weirding out and asking me why I wasn't playing the guitar, and looking mean. People have their ideas about me. I bet you didn't think I could play the piano, did you? Or sing classics from the thirties. Well, I can, and I want to talk to Woody. He'll love it here. Where's Jane?" "Upstairs, Keith, in the Crow." "I'll go, Keith," volunteered Patti Hansen, and she slithered out the door and up the staircase to the bedroom we call the Crow. Muffled female voices indicated that Jane had not been sleeping all that soundly, if at all, and that she had some reservations about calling Woody and Bobby Keys. "I know what you mean, Keith," I continued down below. "It's not all that great when you get what you want. Me, I've got a lot of things happening, but also a lot of screwed up relationships, like with my girlfriend, who's the mother of my kids."
"Me, too," Keith said, slapping his vest pocket and looking about for something he had obviously misplaced. "I did the same thing. Her name's Anita. Kid's Marlon." "Here's what you're looking for," I said. "Use the razor in the editing block." "People think I get my way a lot more than I do," Keith continued. "You don't know what it's like dealing with the people I have to deal with. If it wasn't for the music, I wouldn't be doing it." Sniff! "Let's do 'Dream' next, what d'ya think?" "Let's do it, Keith. Gimme a minute, though. I want to put some two-inch tape on the big machine for this one. Something I want to check on the machine first, too." "No hurry, man. No... hurry." Keith stretched out the "no's" until they wouldn't stretch any more, and addressed the mirror once again. Sniff! Patti Hansen leaned her full weight on the heavy studio door, opening it a crack and looking in on Keith and me. "Look at the two of you. I mean, I can't leave the room for a minute. I need to talk to you, Gil. Come here, will you?" "What's up, Patti?" I asked, a bit blinded once outside the door by the early morning light. "What's up?" "You've got to invent some excuse, Jane says. He may never leave here if you don't. You don't know Keith. He likes it here, too much maybe. But he's got to be in Rome before next Monday to get his visa fixed. Jane's worried. Can't you say something about the plane, or something? Really, Gil, he may not ever leave here, at all." Patti Hansen is a very beautiful woman, and it was clear that she was asking me to take action, too. Not just Jane. "Something about the plane?" I asked. "Like there's bad weather coming in, and we'd better make a move soon." "That would be great," Patti said, eyes flashing. "Not before the Everly Brothers' tune," I said, somewhat automatically. "He wants to do the Everly Brothers' tune, and he really should. That's next. Don't worry, Patti," I said. "He's really doing fine in there." "O.K., Gil, that's all great. But what do you think, I mean, what should I tell Jane?" "Tell her after the Everly Brothers' tune," I laughed. "O.K., Gil," Patti said, smiling. "You know, you're not bad for forty-one. That's how old you are, right?" "You read the article in the magazine in the plane?" "You put it there for us to read." "Yeah, I guess I did. Listen, don't worry about Keith. I'll get him out of here somehow. Just so long as it's not before we do the Everly Brothers' tune, O.K.?" "O.K.," Patti said.

Keith Richards
Keith looked up at the chimney, then back at me. I saw a gleam in his eye. We had this one.Keith ambled out of the airplane, legs stiff from the 45 minute trip from Teterboro. He smiled. Keith looked like warm, friendly leather. Soft eyes. "I'm Gil Markle, Keith. Welcome here." "Hey, yeah. Nice, man. Nice trip." "And I'm Alan Dunn, Gil. Sorry for the delay, but here we are." I was then introduced to Jane Rose, who was talking to Keith and looking at him while shaking my hand, to Alan's comely wife Maureen, and to a smiling Patti Hansen, who looked me right in the eyes. "Let's go," I said. "Black car, over there. " "We all going in one car?" Keith asked. "Yes," I said. "We'll all fit." I made a mental note to investigate the purchase of a second black Cadillac. (Except they didn't build big ones anymore.) We squeezed into the car. Keith, Patti, and Jane Rose in the back seat; Alan Dunn and his wife up front; me driving. "Car got a radio?" Keith shouted up. I flipped to WAAF, The Police; then to WBCN, an old J. Geils cut; then to some Hartford station, Jerry Lee Lewis. "Yeah," Keith erupted. "Yeah." I turned up the volume, and by the end of the tune, which was "Personality," we were gliding up Stoddard Road, past the Long View pond and rowboat, and up the long gravel drive. The Farmhouse glistened white, and the enormous barn glowed cherry red under a dark but very starry summer's night sky. There was a new moon. It was silent, except for the crickets. "Welcome to Long View, Keith," I said. "Yeah," Keith replied. "Nice place." We were scarcely inside the house, drinks ordered up but not yet in hand, when Alan Dunn motioned to me and took me aside, behind the fireplace. "Look," he said, "this has got to be quick tonight. I've got to be back in the city for a day's work tomorrow. So does Jane Rose. Keith's got to be in Rome before the weekend, and he's nowhere near ready to go. Just got evicted from his apartment, and there're a lot of loose ends to tie up. So give him a quick tour, and let's take a look at your plans for the loft. Don't get your hopes up. There's just not time for us to do much tonight." "Here's your wine, Alan," I said. "And here's a screwdriver for Keith. Where'd he go?" "Into the control room, I think. With Patti. Let's meet up in the loft in ten minutes, and you better call your pilots and tell them to be ready to depart Worcester for Teterboro at eleven, at the latest. Sorry it's got to be so rushed, but this was your idea, not mine." "Ten minutes, Alan, in the loft." It took us twenty minutes to get up there, not ten. Keith was in no hurry, and neither was I, if you want to know the truth. We hung out in the control room for a while, and I explained to him how we have tie lines between the two studios, and how we sometimes record over across the way, in the barn, but mix here in Control Room A. We then took a look at the bedrooms upstairs, the balcony overlooking our antique Steinway, and our collection of records. "You keep all your fifties in one place, too," he remarked with apparent relief. "Easier that way, isn't it? That cassette deck work?" "Sure does, Keith. What you got there?" "Bunch of stuff all mixed up. Starts with some Buddy Holly, I think." Keith slammed the cassette into the cassette deck, which hangs at eye level just as you enter the kitchen, and hit the "go" button. "Select tape two on the pre-amp," I shouted over to him, which he did. On came Buddy Holly, as expected. Keith turned it up, loud, very loud, until it began to distort the JBLs hanging overhead, then down just a notch. Maximum undistorted volume, that's called. He extended his glass to me, which now had only a bit of yellow left in it, way down at the bottom of the glass. He needed a refill. "Good idea," I said. "Then let's go across the way and I'll show you what we have in mind for the stage." "Yeah," Keith said. "Let's go over to the barn. Got to find Patti, though. Hold on a minute." Patti materialized, and we headed out, through the library, under the moosehead, past the fish tank, and out onto the driveway. "Look down there, Keith," I said. "Those lights down there are Stanley's, and he's our nearest neighbor. Farmer." "Hope he likes rock 'n' roll," Keith laughed. "He better by now," I said. "He's been hearing it from us for almost eight years now. Up these stairs here, and straight ahead." Alan Dunn and Jane Rose were waiting for us in the loft, and had already been briefed by Geoff Myers, who was talking in an animated fashion, and moving his arms in wide arcs. He was explaining how deep the stage was going to be, and how strong. Keith listened for a moment, then walked over to one of the massive support beams, and kicked it. He looked up, whistled softly through his teeth, and spun around slowly, on his heel. "Yeah," he said. "What's down there?" "Come on, I'll show you," and I scrambled down the rickety ladder into what we now call the Keith Richards bedroom suite. Keith followed, with Jane Rose telling him to be careful. "We don't really know how strong that thing is, now, do we? Gil, are you sure you need Keith down there? Why don't you just leave Keith up here and you can talk to us from down there. Keith, are you all right? Keith!" "Figured we'd do a bedroom and living area down here," I said. "Right beside the chimney here. A place for people to hang out during the rehearsals, but still be out of the way. Look up there. The stage will be on the level of those transverse beams. You'll be able to see the whole thing from down here. We'll build staircases, fix it up nice. Cassette deck will be over there; speakers hanging so, on either side of the chimney. Should sound good down here." Keith looked up at the chimney, then back at me. I saw a gleam in his eye. We had this one. Keith and I made our way back up the ladder, Keith first, much to Jane Rose's pleasure and relief. Geoff Myers was jumping up and down on the plank floor, trying to make it move. "See? And this is just one layer of two-inch pine on top of two-by-eights. Nothing compared to the strength of the stage, which will have three layers: beams of hemlock, pine sub-flooring, and oak finish. You could drive a truck up there and the floor wouldn't give a bit." And that's all Keith needed to hear. He walked up to Geoff, and gave him a friendly slap on the lapel with the back of his hand. "It won't bounce, right?" "No bounce, Keith." "We're coming, then. What a place I found!" "We're what?" Alan interrupted. "We're coming to this man's barn. Where's Mick now?" "India, Keith." "Let's go ring him. What a place I found!" "How's your screwdriver, Keith?" I asked. It was plainly down to its ice cubes, and needed refreshing. He looked at me, and at my screwdriver, which was still quite yellow, and full of Stolni'. I poured my glass into his; he laughed, and we walked back across the driveway to the Farmhouse. Keith and I were getting on just fine.

Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts turned, looked me straight in the eye, and lifted his glass of Tequila. "Think if I ever grew up I'd get out of rock 'n' roll, too," he said."Charlie Watts," I said. "What are you doing up this early in the morning?" It was 7 AM, and I was getting no sleep at all in the water bed in the Flat. I had been dreaming my nightmare, which had been recurrent for me now ever since the Rolling Stones arrived. Was always the same. Nancy, my sweetheart, making love to some other guy, yet smiling at me with her tender, enigmatic Mona Lisa smile — checks becoming ever more flushed — until I would end the dream and wake up terrified in the heaving, sloshing water bed, aware once again that it was the Rolling Stones playing upstairs on our new and gleaming sound stage, and that I had gotten my wish. I mean, that the Rolling Stones had come to Long View Farm. Charlie Watts was alone in the kitchen in the Farmhouse, looking out over the valley toward the east, and toward a sky which was now gray, streaked with orange, just a few moments after sunrise. "How'd the practice go last night, Charlie?" "Gil," he said, "let me look at you." Charlie was swaying slowly back and forth, seated on the wooden bench overlooking the front porch and the deep valley below. There were patches of mist in the low spots in the valley. "Let me look at you," Charlie continued. "I want you to tell me this one thing, Gil." "What, Charlie?" "What . . . and I want you to tell me the truth . . . what are you going to do, Gil, when . . . when . . . " "When what , Charlie?" "When you grow up, Gil. What are you going to do when you grow up?" Charlie said each word by itself. Distinctly, and without any consideration of count, or cadence. "Jesus, Charlie," I said. "I'm already forty-one." "Know that. Know that, Gil. Know that very well. But the question still remains, what, Gil, are you going to do, when you grow up ?" "Think about getting out of rock 'n' roll, for a start. I can now." I was amazed that I had said that. "Ha, ha! Watts spoke. Ha, ha. That's already a beginning my good man. A beginning for us to con-tem-plate, the two of us. Out of rock 'n' roll. Which way, Gil? Which way is out of rock 'n' roll? That way? Down past the riding ring? Ha! You really forty-one?" "I don't know, Charlie. Sometimes I lose track. That's what it says in the papers — in the articles. I guess that's how old I am." "Treated you easy so far, rock 'n' roll did. Unless you have an aging portrait upstairs in the attic. Ha! Knew someone like you once. Looked great, he did. Didn't show it all as much as me. And I've been showing it a bit. But was that bastard ever miserable! You miserable, Gil?" "Charlie," I said, "what kind of a thing is that to ask?"
"Aw, fuck," Charlie said. "Wasn't asking. Trying to say something. Trying to say something to you, Gil, who's just forty-one. Played drums all night, trying to say something in the morning. In Massachusetts. I don't know why they make such a fuss over us. Never did understand it. Still don't." "You're the Rolling Stones, Charlie. That's why." Charlie Watts turned, looked me straight in the eye, and lifted his glass of Tequila. "Think if I ever grew up I'd get out of rock 'n' roll, too," he said. He then rose unsteadily to his feet, acquired some stumbling momentum in the direction of the fireplace, the staircase, and his bedroom two flights above us, just across the hall from Mick's room. "G'night, Charlie," I shouted after him. "Nite, Gil," he said softly. "Nite, Gil."
Mick and Freedom
Mick's eyebrows arched. He's still holding his empty plate in one hand. I could see that this was going to have to be quick. Just time enough for the abridged version of my prepared speech.It was time for the Rolling Stones to leave Long View Farm. Their first really big show — the first of two back-to-back performances, and in front of 80,000 persons, was scheduled for Friday, in Philadelphia. So they would leave Long View on Thursday. It was now Monday, or Tuesday if I'm wrong. Dr. Rose, who's Jane Rose's father, and a semi-retired physician, had stopped by with his wife and had given vitamin B-12 shots to all the members of the band. That's a no-nonsense measure designed to eliminate the possibility of any sore throats, fevers, or other infectious diseases. It's almost impossible to get sick once you've had a shot of vitamin B-12. Billy Maykel, the local Svengali and chiropractor, had stopped by and had cracked all available backs. Mick requested the treatment, but once Billy was on the premises, his popularity spread like wildfire. Keith, once "cracked" and relieved of a bothersome shoulder pain, instructed Woody to "get cracked, too." Bill and Astrid came next. Patti Hansen officiated at the assembly-line back-crackings, which occurred downstairs in the barn, just outside the sauna. She "got cracked" herself, and immediately joined the ranks of the proselytizers and converted. The Rolling Stones thought Dr. Billy Maykel was a genius, and he's still prescribing adjustments and diet changes for them by mail. I "got cracked," too, over in the Flat, and was briefed by Maykel on the state of the spines of the members of the band. " Mick's the worst," Dr. Billy said, gravely. "Don't see how he can carry on, in the state he's in. Internal organs? I don't want to talk about it. He's better now, though. Three consecutive sets of adjustments I've put him through, and he's obviously improved. Now, Gil, breathe out. That's it. All the way out." "CRACK!" "Hmmm. Not doing too well yourself, if you want to know." "How so, Billy?" "Liver, Gil. I've been telling you this now for years. Liver." "Whaddaya mean, 'liver'?" I asked Dr. Billy Maykel. "You know, Gil. Without my telling you. You're also not doing the pressurepoint exercises either, like you've been told. There, get up. That should loosen you up for a while. Your fourth lumbar was way out. Not as far as Mick's though. His was practically out of joint. Keith, he had another problem altogether..." "Please, Billy, don't tell me things like that. They're all better now, though, you say?" "No problem. They'll perform in Philly, if that's what you're asking." That was good for me to hear. Didn't want it said that we'd sent the Rolling Stones out into the world in anything less than fighting shape. I thanked Billy, and made my way across the driveway to the Farmhouse, feeling particularly light on my feet. The cracking had been a good one. It was now suppertime, or just a bit later than that. Cracking of the back loosens up the mind, that's why I'm a fan of chiropractics. I was thinking particulary well, all of a sudden. Hallucinating for a start; then tying the rush down to earth, in the form of a determination — of an intention. Always works, that. If you start with an hallucination, and then focus, you're home-free-all. The thing will then happen. Some shrinks will charge you $250 per hour, and still not tell you that. Tonight, I intended to say goodbye to Mick Jagger. Mick and I had been circling around one another for almost two months now — keeping our distances, playing our roles, each very well. We had only good things to say about each other, but had never done so directly, to the other, one-on-one. That would have been superfluous, and possibly dangerous to boot. Mick Jagger wasn't a person for me; and I wasn't a person for Mick Jagger. We were instead two intelligent men caught up in rock 'n' roll, with clearly defined objectives. Mick figured temporarily on the horizon of my objectives; I figured temporarily on his. And that was fine with the two of us. All this aside, I still wanted to say goodbye to the man, and had been rehearsing my goodbye speech for at least a month now — tinkering with it, scrutinizing it for any remaining traces of ego, bombast, and bravado, and waiting for my moment. It was now very shortly to arrive. People were just getting up from the table, after an evening meal which must have been fish, since there was a profusion of empty wine bottles in evidence. White wines, from Bordeaux. I know. I selected most of the titles. A fire — large for the month of September — was raging in the fireplace. Keith would occasionally throw on a log. So would Woody, and Charlie Watts. One of them, at least, had done so. I rounded the corner by the fireplace, toward the table, just as Mick was rounding the fireplace, empty plate in hand, heading toward the dishwasher. It's a sign that guests are fully at home at Long View, and aware of what has to be done to keep the place running, when they take their empty plates back to the dishwasher. Mick was doing just that, which impressed me. Now was the time. He knew this, too, and we stopped, facing each other some six feet in front of the blazing fire. "So," I said, jauntily, "looks like you're on your way. Seems like you just got here." "Right, Gil," Mick said. "Very pleasant stay, I'd like you to know. Very pleasant." "Something I wanted you to know, Mick, on your way out. Something I've been meaning to say to you, for some time." Mick's eyebrows arched. He's still holding his empty plate in one hand. I could see that this was going to have to be quick. Just time enough for the abridged version of my prepared speech. "Thought you'd like to know that you've made me a free man. "People often say the opposite to you — I know that. Complain that the Rolling Stones captured them, dragged them along, imprisoned them in a series of events they couldn't control — burned them out. I've heard it all." Mick was now listening intently. "But you did the opposite for me, I want you to know. Finally, after years, I don't have to worry any longer about bringing a bigger and better band to Long View Farm. That cross is off my shoulders, once and for all. And that's a very liberating feeling, and I wanted you to take the credit for it. There's one man, at least, whom you've made free." "Very nice, Gil," Mick said. "A very nice thing to say." I believe Mick would have said more, had he known that this little ceremony was going to occur. We smiled at each other, we shook hands, and he continued on his way to the dishwasher. He was thinking about what I had just said as he slid his plate onto the counter. I could tell.

"Lemme tell you something. I've been in the band for years now. I never ate with them all before. All at one table, I mean. I never saw 'em all together over a bottle of wine before I came here."
Ron Wood, who's sometimes called "Ronnie," and at other times "Woody," is by far the friendliest member of the Rolling Stones. He will always say hello to you, for example — even go out of his way to do so. And he will address you using your first name, and in a manner which is always upbeat, happy, confident, and selfless. Selfless. Yes, that's exactly the word I wanted to use. Woody — who's a most talented guy — doesn't make you wrestle with this fact day in and day out. He seems interested in you, instead. He hangs out with fellow guitarist Keith Richards almost all the time. Keith beats on Woody, which is funny most of the time, and a concern to Woody's friends for the remainder of it. The door to the Game Room was closed, and I figured no one was in it, since it was 11:30 in the morning, so I burst through as though I owned the place, figuring I'd check things out a bit, and see if the Advent TV was working. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn't. "Woody," I said. "Fancy meeting you here!" Woody was prowling around the pool table, taking an occasional shot. He'd not yet been to bed, as I could tell from the prowl, which was a touch unsteady. He relaxed his aim on the ball, which was teetering on the edge of falling into a pocket, straightened up, and smiled broadly. "Hi, Gil!" he said. Woody was genuinely happy to see me. "Howya doing?" he asked me. "O.K., Woody, I guess. You'd know the answer to that question better than me. I'm just hoping things are going well for you guys, and that we're doing a good job for you... " "You mean, you don't know already?" "Well, Ronnie, I've been staying out of sight, mainly — not jumping into the middle of things, you know?" "Gil. The band loves it here. Loves it here. Honored to be here, Gil. First time I heard talk like that from any of 'em."
"Lemme tell you something. I've been in the band for years now. I never ate with them all before. All at one table, I mean. I never saw 'em all together over a bottle of wine before I came here. Here, take this." Ron Wood passed me a large and healthy-looking cigarette. I can only assume it contained English tobacco and black hash. Then he grabbed a cube of blue chalk off the shelf, applied it to the business end of his cue stick, and continued his playful taking-of-shots at whichever ball seemed closest to him on the pool table. "Never happened under one roof before," Ronnie continued. "No problem if more than one roof is involved. Bill and Astrid, they'll disappear almost right away. Mick'll be up in his penthouse with his friends, and his telephone. Charlie not far away probably. Keith and me'll be messin' up in some dungeon downstairs letting out our energy. People in different places, usually. But under one roof? Never saw it before." BLAM! The door to the Game Room flew open, propelled by Keith Richards's right boot. It slammed against the wooden wall, and bounced back again, catching Keith on the elbow, and partially spilling the orange juice and vodka Keith was carrying in that hand. "Ronnie, that was yours. Always carry yours in my right hand." Keith gave the half-filled drink to Ronnie, slapping him on the back as he did, and causing him to spill even more of the screwdriver onto the cement floor. He spied me on the other side of the large TV couch — an infrequent visitor here in the Game Room. "Hey, Gil, whaddaya doin' here in the crypt?" "Just checking out that everything's working, Keith," I said lamely. Keith swings a leg up and over the couch. It lands right in the middle of the cushion. Keith steps up onto that leg. He's now standing in the middle of the couch on one foot, Advent video projector immediately to his right — three circles of blue, red, and green, shining cone-like through the air, and illuminating Keith Richards in three basic colors. Keith lands on the floor beside me, cat-like, and now on two feet. "Haven't seen you to talk to since the time before, when Patti and me were here." "I know. I've been concentrating on the gig. There's not been much time. I want to talk to you about that tape of yours, however. I haven't found time yet to do the edits. So how are we doing, Keith? I mean, the Farm and everything." "Yeah," Keith said. "Everything's fine, man. Just don't schedule any more 'a those meetings down here, or Ron and me'll revolt." Ronnie looked up, smiling over his cuestick.
"Meetings? You gotta be joking, Keith," I said. "You must be joking." "Wasn't much of a joke in here yesterday. A dozen of Mick's clothes designer friends in here watching videos on that damned wide-screen TV of yours. Who brought 'em down here anyway?" "I did. Keith," I confessed. "Yeah," Keith acknowledged. "Good thing you like rock 'n' roll, or Ronnie and me'd gang up on you." Ronnie had just got off a shot from the far end of the pool table which had miraculously put three balls into three different leather pockets. He smiled up at us once again. "Don't listen to him, Gil," he said.
A Typical Rehearsal
"Always a bit rough around the edges. You expect them to be." The band forges on, and starts "Hang Fire" all over again from the top.""Oh, they're playin' tonight, Gil. No doubt about it. Didn't last night, even though everybody was here and ready. Think it was Keith who just couldn't get it together. The night before it was because Mick didn't get back from New York. So that was two nights people were basically just lying around. They'll play tonight for sure." It's Jesse Henderson speaking, Long View Chief Engineer, standing up against the Dempster Dumpster in the shed, nursing a beer. He caught my attention as I walked past. It was now after supper for the "regular schedule" eaters and their guests, of whom there were many tonight. A Saturday night in mid-September. Kurt Loder from Rolling Stone magazine had arrived, hoping to get some material for his cover article on Keith Richards. Nancy Griffin, who wrote the copy for the eventual spread in Life magazine, was also there, demure, out of the way, and taking notes. Abe Brenner and Mark had just arrived. These were friends of Keith's, as best we could tell. It was rumored that Abe Brenner —who looks old enough to be Keith's father — had once gone to jail for Keith in some drug-related police action. We didn't ask too many questions about Abe Brenner and Mark, who didn't seem to sleep much — either of them — and who always seemed to arrive just minutes before the best parties began. They had somewhat sallow complexions and traveled via a different chartered airplane each time. "Yeah," Jesse repeated. "Gotta play tonight. Piano's tuned. Rhodes, too." "Space heater for Bill Wyman?" "That's up there, right beside his stool. He should have no bitches. Works great." "And overall, the place looks O.K. up there?" "Except for the butts on the floor. They won't listen to me, Gary and Chuch. They put 'em out on the floor on purpose. Their way of getting even, I suppose. Everyone else beats on them, they beat on the studio. Weird, but I can understand it." Gary and Chuch were roadies, and this was not the first time that they had worked for the Rolling Stones. They were in charge of all the gear — like the amps, and guitars, and the dozen or so packing cases full of assorted paraphernalia. They also functioned somewhat as court jesters whenever they were in presence of the band. They would do errands, roll joints, and — most important — absorb punishment otherwise meant for the band members themselves. Gary and Chuch would lose things that were somehow fated to be lost; it's either Gary or Chuch who would get his front tooth chipped on the corner of the pool table in the Game Room, not Keith Richards. A door swinging open unexpectedly would catch one of them square in the forehead, not Mick Jagger. Hangovers the morning after? Not the band members, as best we could tell. Gary and Chuch would suffer instead. They provided Karmic insulation, you would say, in addition to the usual services provided by professional road men. They rendered themselves up for poundings and punishment in service of the myth, and that's what they were really paid to do, if you ask me. And they put butts out on the inflammable wooden floor of Studio C — at one point almost prompting an ultimatum from me which would have been served up to Mick himself. Fortunately, this never had to occur. "Thought I'd hang out up there a bit tonight, Jesse," I said. "See how things are going." "Might as well, man. They won't kick you out. That's for sure." "I've been trying to set an example, Jesse. They don't need us up there, even though they say we're welcome. We're welcome, but we're not either, if you know what I mean." Jesse knew what I meant. He'd seen Long View staffers hustled quietly away by Jim Callahan or Bob Bender upon the raising of an eyebrow from Mick Jagger, and hadn't seen me up there very much at all. Oh, I'd take a tour through, once a night, but these were official visits only, not listening visits. As owner, I'd appear sometimes during the first few hours of the rehearsal, pass a remark or two in the company of lovely Patti Hansen, take an approving puff of the everpresent "joint a l'anglaise", dim the house lights a touch in evidence of Owner's Concern for Creative Environments, and then get the hell out of there. In a straight line, no detours, no dallying about, no mesmerization even .nh contemplated, much less acted out. I had to be the one to lead the charge in this whole area of professional self-image. We were doing this as paid "pros," and that left no room for any personal displays — affected or genuine. They didn't come here to see us, or hear our theories about their music, their personal lives, or whatever. Nor did they coome here to be friends with us. So enter, bow, depart; and don't get your feelings hurt if you fail to establish eye contact with all five members of the band. It was a bit earlier than usual that night, when they started playing. Patti Hansen had appeared in the kitchen about 10 PM, willow-thin and a touch wan, wearing only a robe. "Keith's up," she said to John Farrell. "Wants his breakfast." "Usual?" "Usual," Patti said, and John disappeared into the pantry for some raw hamburger and for the potatoes to make the home fries, and for the bottle of H. P. sauce. Patti would bus the completed "breakfast" over on a tray. She didn't mind; it gave her something to do "in the morning."
An hour later, Keith was up on the stage — wire-haired, crazed looking, and full of Long View protein. He stands still as Gary slings one of a dozen or so guitars around his shoulders, which are bare, and rippling with muscle tone. The guitar settles down and hangs low — as low as Keith can reach with his long arms. Keith slices across the metal strings with a guitar pick, and a massive, barn-rattling "SPRONG" issues forth from the Cerwin-Vega monitors. "SPRONG . . ." Keith goes again. That "SPRONG" was in the key of "A", I thought, which made sense, since "Hang Fire" was the first tune on the top of tonight's "list." Mick's list, I mean. He kept it over on the packing case behind the piano, and he referred to it constantly during the night. Mick was very organized, and was writing things down all the time. It's unusual to see people "write things down" in rock 'n' roll. Practically unheard of. We "feel" in rock 'n' roll, and don't need to think. Keith's ready, and the band lurches into "Hang Fire" — little Jade's favorite tune off the new album. The barn sounds great. Loud. Wooden. Almost cathedrallike. There's natural "slap" on the snare drum — echo from the far wall — and it sounds just like the "slap" engineers labor to synthesize in the studio, using delay lines. About a third of a second. House lights are off; only spots illuminate the stage. Red night lights — the sort that glow in the cockpits of bombers and supersonic jets — shine warmly over each of the Rolling Stones packing cases beneath the stage. Some of these cases are open with their drawers slid out —others half open, guitar cords snarled inside — others closed, but with a visitor sitting on top, fidgeting, looking about, and trying to stay out of the way. You'd find your reporters on top of these cases — those few who, after cooling their heels for as long as a week in Sturbridge, were finally allowed in.
Back to "Hang Fire." The harmony "doo-doops" sound terrible; and everyone in the band knows it. They stop playing, and Mick, Ronnie, and Keith try to figure out who's going to sing what. It's easier in the studio, where you can overdub voices, taking them one at a time if you want. Live, it's much more difficult. The three of them reach a consensus. Now they sound better, but not really great. "Always a bit rough around the edges — the Rolling Stones," to repeat what Keith Richards said later that night to Kurt Loder — the writer from New York City. "Always a bit rough around the edges. You expect them to be." The band forges on, and starts "Hang Fire" all over again from the top. "Here, Gil. Do you want some of this?" It's Patti Hansen who has materialized at my side, out of the shadows and the thunder, and she's extending a large cigarette to me which is quite lit, and giving off lots of smoke. She's holding her breath, about to exhale. "Don't mind if I do, Patti," I said, taking the joint from her. I see Gary the roadie only a few feet away, dusting specks of tobacco off the top of the packing case. He winks at me, and gives me the "thumbs up" signal. He had created this cigarette only moments ago, and he was proud of it. We'd get to smoke it for a minute or two — to "warm it up," as it were. Then, upon a signal from the stage, Gary would snatch it away, run with it up the stairs, and feed it to Keith, on whose lower lip the thing would dangle, through several re-lightings, until it was all gone except for the cardboard mouthpiece. This cigarette was not ours forever. So I took another toke. "You ready to give all this up for the movies, Patti?" I asked. Patti was going to be in a movie soon, and there was some question as to how much time she could be on the road, with the band. "I don't think about it," Patti said. "It is great, though. I know what you mean. I've never seen them play this way before. Never. They actually seem to be enjoying it." "Here," I said. "Do some more of this." Suddenly, Jane Rose appears out of the darkness with a screech. "Hi, every-body. Well, don't the two of you look comfortable there. I was wondering where you ran off to, Patti. Here, Gil. Come here, please. I want you to meet someone." I get to my feet, and am given to meet Lisa Robinson — noted rock 'n' roll gossip columnist. I say hi to Lisa, and we chat for a second as best we can with "Hang Fire" playing live, just twenty feet in front of us. Behind her, moving quietly along the wall, are two Japanese photographers. A satellite tracking lens has been adapted to fit a standard Nikon, and brought all the way from Tokyo by these gentlemen. It's set up behind us, shooting over our heads toward stage center. A third, small Japanese gentleman is fussing with it, tinkering, and staring into the viewfinder. Pictures of Mick Jagger for an All Nippon Rock Extra. Printed on glossy paper and sold in millions of copies in Japan. Kurt Loder from Rolling Stone magazine is down by the fireplace, banging loudly in time to the music on our antique oak table. Nancy Griffin from Life is sitting on a packing case, legs crossed at the ankles, wondering how to package what she's seeing for Middle America. A new gaggle of visitors appears in the doorway of Studio B. They nod respectfully toward the stage, and disseminate themselves in ones and twos along the walls — timid, silent, and awed by the dimensions of the room, the loudness of the sound and the spectacle before their eyes — the Rolling Stones, live.
Suddenly the lights come on, the music stops abruptly, and at least two dozen reporters, photographers, fashion designers, free-lance writers and other assorted Stones watchers freeze in their tracks — checking nervously over their shoulders in the direction of the stage. As well they should. Mick is not pleased; that much is clear. His eyes run over the faces in attendance — the writers, the reporters, the gentlemen from Japan — and his scowl deepens. He puts down his wireless microphone, and walks in careful measured steps down the beamed staircase, around the oversized packing case at the foot of the stairs, through the door to Studio B, and out into the night. It's break time.

Say it all together (RS - 1997)

Ah les interviews de Rolling Stone ! On se croirait presque revenu aux temps où la barrière infranchissable avec eux n'existait pas. Enfin, Jagger est sur ses gardes, faut pas pousser.
Du Ron, du Charlie, du Jag, et du Keith, séparément mais tous.
Notes from the Babylon Bar
On the road with the Rolling Stones

Backstage, on the second night of the Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon tour, most of the world that will cosset and comfort them over the next year is up and running -- a world that is serviced by at least six chefs, including a dedicated dessert chef, and that allows two full-time tour employees to have their job listed in the tour program as Backstage Ambience. In the area known as Bar Babylon, I float on the edge of a conversation with some non-performing Rolling Stones insiders. The hot topics of conversation: the best face creams, the rise of Krispy Kreme donuts. Over on the other side of the room, Keith Richards greets the visiting blues wives (Muddy Waters', Willie Dixon's). Keith's father, Bert, wanders by, smoking a pipe, talking about the twenty lengths he swims each day. Ronnie Wood has some glitter on his face, which he excuses as (a) "posh cocaine" and (b) a side product of all the women he has to greet. "Where's wardrobe?" he asks. "And why am I asking now? We've already done one show...."
Keith Richards is scooping ice into a glass with his right hand when we are introduced. My first moment with him. Warm pirate grin; ice-cold handshake.
These shows start with a bendy, overexcited, unanchored "Satisfaction." Each Rolling Stone easily slips back into role. On Mick Jagger's face, there's the determination and the scowling effort and, when it's going well, that swagger.
He shimmies and contorts himself in a flurry of hyperactivity, always as though he is trying to prove something. Charlie Watts has that slightly bemused, patient look, his head turned slightly to one side, half-smiling: It's silly, really, isn't it? Ron Wood assumes his customary jack-the-lad demeanor. Whenever a camera for the overhead screen comes close, he displays his casual repertoire of daftness: the stuck-out tongue, the stupid face. As for Keith Richards . . . anyone who is cynical about the Rolling Stones' motives in touring the world once more -- as plenty, quite reasonably, are -- would struggle to explain Richards' exploding grin, at once childlike and old-man wise, stuffed with delight and reverie.
This is the Bridges to Babylon tour. Except . . . well, I'll let Mick Jagger explain it. "We haven't got a fucking bridge yet," he pouts. It won't arrive until ten days into the tour. "I ordered it," he laughs. He says it's like decorating your flat: Everything's supposed to be ready for a party on Friday, but when Friday comes, there are no curtains.
"And," he repeats, "there's no fucking bridge."
What's the worst part of getting old?
Ronnie Wood: When your ankles start to change color [lifts up an ankle and shows off discolored blotches]. It's not serious. It's probably just broken veins. I still feel like I'm twenty-three. My kids are, like, "You're so old." That's the hardest thing about old, when the kids kind of rub it in.
Mick Jagger: I suppose you do think about the time that's allotted to you more than when you were younger. The mortality thing obviously has a stronger pull for you. It's an imminent truth; it's not necessarily a bad thing. You realize -- much earlier than my age now -- that you won't be able to play for England's football team, just to take a really crass example. So you can't have that life again. Unless you believe in reincarnation or whatever. Reincarnation? That's a whole other question. I find people who talk about that sort of thing in interviews idiotic. And I don't want to go down with them.
Charlie Watts: It's only if my wife mentions growing old, because I think it affects women a lot more than men, this stuff. It'd be nice to be rich and grow old -- I'd hate to be shuffling 'round Brixton Market in a pair of slippers. Then again, I'll probably be shuffling 'round the garden.
Keith Richards: I haven't found it yet. I still zoom around and do what I do. I'd hate to have to go 'round thinking about [derisively] health and shit like that. It's never occurred to me. This is what I am, this is what I've got, and I do what I do. It's such a sturdy frame, this; I even abused it to see how far it could go, but that was a long time ago. Hey, I've got the measure of this thing. [Lights a cigarette] There's only one really fatal disease, I've concluded. It's called hypochondria. And it is deadly.
Some Myths Addressed, Some Propagated #1
The Rolling Stones history has been repeated and regurgitated and mulched over and over. I read all the books: the smart ones, the sturdy ones, the dumb ones. It is, I decide, only the occasional pithy detail that demands revisiting.
Me: You are, I believe, one of the few rock stars who actually has pushed a TV out a window.
Keith Richards: Yeah. In the old days, motel TVs were bolted to the floor, so that was the challenge. Room service had pissed us off by refusing to serve us.
Me: They weren't just late?
Richards: No. We didn't do it for little things. That was 1969, and as I say, it was a very strange year.
Me: How far down did it fall?
Richards: About it stories.
Me: Was it exciting?
Richards: Well, by then it had become a project. You do things like that on the road when you've been up four or five days.
Me: Do you still skip nights?
Richards: I'll do two days sometimes.
Me: On this tour already?
Richards: Yeah. A couple of times.
Me: But no three-dayers?
Richards: Not unless I have to. Nine was as far as I could go. And loads of four and fives, especially with Ronnie in the '70s. But after three days, another thing clicks in. It's a fascinating world. I was so interested in what I was doing, whether it was music, songs, tapes, listening, talking, that sleep seemed superfluous.
Me: Presumably you can't do the long multiples without the right drugs.
Richards: [Nods] Oh, no, the chemistry comes into play here. Incredibly important, of course. It was a laboratory. As far as I was concerned, the whole thing was a scientific expedition.
Brief scenes from an interview with Mick Jagger
There are two chairs and a sofa. Mick Jagger takes the sofa. I take a chair. That leaves one chair spare. I move to put my tape recorder on it. "I was going to put my feet up on it," says Mick Jagger. "But it's all right. We can do both." He looks around. It is the middle of the afternoon. "So have we got any drinks? Water, or martinis, or whatever we're drinking?" We are, as I am sure he is aware, drinking Evian. He squints toward the window. "Bit bright, isn't it?" he says.
It's difficult interviewing Mick Jagger. He is not a man who enjoys being pinned down. "Why should you be?" he reasons. "One's pinned down enough in life. You're so pinned down...." There is a way he talks that seems to be a perpetual smirk, as though he wants you to know that the very act of sitting here, answering your questions, is an absurd indulgence. Of the tour he says, "It is a great thrill It's my vocation. It's what I do. If I can do it well, I enjoy it. And if I can't do it well, I'll make sure I do it better." When he says things like this, he seems so careful in what he says that he sounds insincere. In the end, I will wonder whether the strangest thing about Mick Jagger might be that beneath this veneer of insincerity, what he is actually hiding is sincerity itself.
The pre-tour Jagger media frisson has been provoked by Paul McCartney. McCartney says, in his new as-told-to memoir, that he turned Mick Jagger onto drugs. Jagger shakes his head, amused. He has a theory. "It's all to do with John Lennon being a saint and being the edgy one. Paul definitely had his edgy moments.... People now think he's this old wanker, that he never did anything and John did everything." He certainly seems paranoid.
"That's what I think, anyway. And he wants to say stuff that indicates that he was on the edge of things."
Do you mind being brought into it?
"I don't mind at all. Whatever he wants to say. Even though it isn't true. You know -- what does it matter? It's a lot of mythology, isn't it?" Jagger says that he first smoked outside England. "What does it matter? It's a load of old trollop, all of this stuff. How would he even know, unless I said, `Wow! I've never tried it before!' or `I'm so grateful!'? And how would he ever remember?"
Mick Jagger was once, in the early '80s, contracted to write a book. The story went around that when he tried, he simply couldn't remember. In fact, a version of the book was written by a ghostwriter whom Jagger employed. It's locked away in some vault. "It was just boring, trying to remember everything," he says. "It wasn't I couldn't remember everything, it was just . . . 'Euchhhh.'"
Some Myths Addressed, Some Propagated 2
Me: Did you read Marianne Faithfull's book?
Jagger: I couldn't read the whole thing. You only read what's serialized.
Me: Do you mind that she said Keith was a better lover than you?
Jagger: She had to say something. Something to sell it.
Me: So she didn't mean it?
Jagger: I've no idea if she means it. She said to my mother the other week that I was wonderful in bed and embarrassed my whole family.
Me: What on earth was the social situation that allowed this conversation?
Jagger: Do you really want to know? It was a cricket match at Paul Getty's house, in the tea interval. She said it to my mother and my father.
Me: But how does that just come up in conversation?
Jagger: Yes, exactly. She just came out with it, after a few Pimms or something.
I raise the subject with Keith Richards.
Richards: [Grins] She should know.
Me: Did it have the ring of truth?
Richards: Well, I wouldn't know. I've never made love to him.
What do your children nag you about?
Mick Jagger: [Gently indignant] They don't nag me! They're not allowed. [Puts on a daft Germanic voice] You vill not nag me!
Ronnie Wood: There are a few things. 'Oh, are you still in bed, Dad?' And then they jump on you. The worst thing is when they don't jump on you.
Keith Richards: That they don't see me enough. Which is true. But it's the nature of my job. They'll nag me, 'Ok you haven't sent me a fax,' because that's the way we communicate. Drawings, mostly, and little letters. I might be, `Guess who I'm with?' and draw a nose, and they'll know it's Ronnie.
Charlie Watts: My daughter? Playing jazz, I suppose. The same goes for my wife. I think the secret of a successful marriage is separate bathrooms.
Scenes From an interview with Charlie Watts
I am invited to Watts' hotel room, which is meticulously tidy. He reluctantly turns down his jazz, in deference to my tape recorder, but doesn't seem pleased with the compromise. His wife has just flown off to a horse show in Germany; he seems a little melancholy, but he oozes gentle dignity. When I ask a question that seems foolish, he furrows his brow, like a kind uncle trying to be patient with the wayward next generation, and simply says "Good Lord . . . " before gamely attempting a reply. "Mick's good at interviews, you know, and you get only so much, and he doesn't want you to have any more," he says. "Whereas I'll prattle on forever. But it's not of much importance . . . ."
He has mixed feelings about being on tour. "It's still a huge pressure," he says. "All I really like to do is play the drums with this band. The rest of it I find very difficult to take. The world of this is a load of crap. You get all these bloody people, so incredibly sycophantic. Us sitting here doing this is a bit. . " He looks along the sofa at me with friendly distaste. "Well," he says, definitely. "It is."
So we talk about the twenty-nine dogs Watts lives with on his stud farm in the English countryside. The numbers are growing because his wife is on a mission to save ex-racing greyhounds. "I used to have a pig, actually," he says. "Billy Pig." Billy Pig lived in the house until he got too big. Watts tells me of his sports memorabilia; of his earlier cowboy obsession; of the 1937 Lagonda Rapide that sits in the garage because he has never learned to drive; of his vintage guns. He is a collector and, one might deduce, a compulsive.
One of the most fascinating things about Charlie Watts is how, after sitting out some of the most extreme drug abuse of the late 20th century, he quietly and privately became a heroin addict himself for a period in the mid-'8os. I don't exactly bring it up, but he misunderstands a question I ask about Mick and Keith's fractured relationship during that decade. He nods. "I was very fucked up," he says. "I was warring with myself at that time."
We talk about the band. "I'm closer to Mick than I've ever been," he says. "I think Jerry's done that. The children and that. He's grown up a lot."
Would you accuse Keith of having grown up?
"No. He's a bohemian. They don't work by the book. He'll either miss very badly, whatever it is, or he's 100 percent and two weeks ahead of you. I've seen Keith fall asleep at business meetings about millions of dollars for him -- because of heroin, just nod out, and then wake up and answer a question."
And Ronnie?
"I don't really know him as well like that. He's a very likable person. He's not grown-up. He doesn't need to be. He's not at all sensible, Ronnie. It's not his role. He's a maniac."
For decades, Charlie Watts has followed an on-tour ritual. In each hotel room in which he stays, he sketches the bed. (Sometimes other things, too: a lamp, hotel signs, his meals.) It began when he was bored, which was often, and now he has to do it. He can't leave a room without doing it. "It's a panic," he says. "I always try to do it when I get there." It's a diary, of sorts. "All the rooms look the same, really," he says.
Some Myths Addressed, Some Propagated # 3
Me: Did you really use to own a Hovercraft?
Keith Richards: Yes. But it was the size of this table. I bought it for my son to play with. It went 'round the lawn for about two weeks. We hovered in there for a while. Interesting sensation. And then it went in the moat. It never came out the same.
(Perhaps that is the perfect metaphor for true, untrammeled, insulated '70s rock stardom in all its pointlessness and gloriousness. The Hovercraft went in the moat, and it never came out the same. But what the hell. It was your Hovercraft. And your moat.)
What Mick and Keith Did On Their Holidays
Keith Richards is discussing his lead singer's acting career. "As far as I'm concerned, I like to keep Mick busy doing rock & roll to stop him doing those things," he says. "Mick, to me, is a purely physical and audio person. I don't really think acting is his forte and metier. But at the same time, if you've got to do it, have another bash, boy."
You sound like someone who's seen "Freejack."
"No," he says. "Just the ads."
Nonetheless, Jagger has a new film awaiting release. Richards says he had no idea it even existed. The film, Bent, is about gay prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Jagger appears for the first twenty or so minutes as a faded drag queen, both in and out of drag, and he is quite splendid in it.
"Did you like Bent," Jagger asks me carefully, "or did you get bored?"
I reassure him. He says that he was a little wary about slipping into another frock. He's since been offered another drag part: "A gay man that's mad about Latins. I haven't read it yet."
Why do people come to you for that?
"I don't know. Because it's a laugh and they know that I'll . . . do things."
You have a great expression in Bent, as though you have done every last debauched thing but you simply don't care. I was vaguely wondering where you got that look from.
He smirks. "It's acting, darling."
Keith Richards has another new album, Wingless Angels, which he co-produced, played on and shepherded into existence. He has been hanging around and playing with a group of Rastafarians in Jamaica for twenty-five years. This music -- mostly drum rhythms and voices performing slow, soaring versions of traditional songs -- isn't, he says, just nice; it is "good for you. These people understand the necessity for trance in one's life. The beat they play is designed to be just slightly under heart-rate."
This is one of the mistakes people make with Keith Richards: They see him punching out the chords to a rough rock song, and they imagine that's where the whole of his heart is. But, more and more, Keith Richards' strength is his sentimentality. The closing two songs on Bridges to Babylon "Thief in the Night" and "How Can I Stop" -- are, even with Richards' strange voice curled around them, two of the most affecting. "See, chicks see the other side of me, which guys don't," he says. "I have a good empathy with women. I mean, nobody has ever divorced me." Quite who that is directed at, I think we should leave to the parties concerned.
When did you last cry?
Charlie Watts: When I last left home, because I hate leaving home. And I was a bit sad today because our remaining cat died. Jezebel. A bit sad, really. Well, not a bit sad. Very sad.
Mick Jagger: This morning, when my toast was burned. When I read your Madonna interview. She shouldn't have let you in the flat, I reckon.
Keith Richards: I cry quite often. I look at a picture of my grandfather sometimes, listening to music that he loved. And I cry for dead Jackie, my dead Rastaman who is on that record we just brought out.
Ronniee Wood: Watching Princess Di's funeral. All those poor people. So sad. It silenced everything, didn't it? Two days before, I was on the plane with Dodi. My wife used to go out with him. He proposed to her and everything. In fact, she dumped Dodi for me. I think that was a good move on her part.
A Conversation About David Duchovny and Premature Ejaculation
Me: Did you read what David Duchovny said about you recently?
Mick Jagger: David Duchovny?
Me: Do you know who he is?
Mick Jagger: I do indeed. X-Files. Actor. What did he say?
Me: He was talking about how much he liked you when he was young, and he said you "offered the promise of premature ejaculation."
Mick Jagger: [Slightly amused] What does that mean?
Me: I thought you could help me here.
Mick Jagger: The promise? In a sort of gay-sex way, I suppose. I assume. What else could you assume? [Pause] I met him.
Me: And he didn't mention this?
Mick Jagger: [Shakes his head] He didn't talk about premature ejaculation. It was more of a business meeting. About an action thriller called, at the moment, "All the King's Horses."
Me: And not a word about premature ejaculation?
Mick Jagger: No, nothing [laughts] . . . There were other people there.
Me: Do you think it's a compliment?
Mick Jagger: Yeah. Anything that lures you with a promise of something like that has got to be a compliment.
Me: Yes, but premature ejaculation can be a bad thing . . . Mick Jagger: No, I assume it was when he was younger . . . [Stops short, reconsidering] Well, maybe it isn't such a good thing. If I go to the second meeting, we'll bring it up.
Scenes From An Interview With Ronnie Wood
Ronnie Strides In, Bearing Cans
A Guinness for him, a Guinness for me. We are in Philadelphia, two weeks into the tour. I accept enthusiastically, and from then on, whenever I am in the same room as Ronnie, he will get me a Guinness. Perhaps this is a common form of Ron Wood bonding. Later he will recite the last fax he got from Bob Dylan: "Hey, Woody. How are you doing? I'm sending you this from East Asia. You can't get good Guinness down here. Send a truck. Love, Bob." Bob Dylan visited him in Ireland last July. They recorded lots of Dylan's songs and a couple for Wood's next solo album, After School, which he plans to release first as an instrumental because "that way people can't criticize my voice."
Wood is another on-tour sketcher: "I do views from hotel windows when I'm not allowed to go out walking," he says. "There's a lot of old, fat people outside that make it hard for you, and they've usually got guitars in their hands."
Until fairly recently, Wood sometimes had to support himself by selling his portraits. He was made a full member of the band only in this decade.
"I didn't mind doing, like, a seventeen-year apprenticeship," he says with a broad, but somewhat wistful, smile.
Of course you bloody did.
"No. I mean, I wasn't treated like a skivvy," he says. "I was always respected. But it's a hard nut to crack, the Stones' financial side. Everything comes to he who waits." He has other reasons not to be bitter: "Luckily, the big money only came when I got cut in."
A final, odd detail. Ron Wood does not know the lyrics of many of the Rolling Stones' most famous songs: "Brown Sugar" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash," for instance.
"I like to keep them preserved as I've always heard them," he says. Recently he's been sneaking a glance at the teleprompter, particularly during rehearsals, if he's got his glasses on. It's a fresh new world of discovery. "I was reading 'Bitch,' " he says, "and I was cracking up at some of the words."
Scenes From An Interview With Keith Richards Since Our First Chilled Handshake
Keith Richards has been involved in a pop tiff. In an interview for Entertainment Weekly, he was asked about the death of Princess Diana and shared a few thoughts about her funeral singer, Elton John. John's main talent, he said, is writing "songs for dead blondes."
"He's so pathetic, poor thing," Elton John retorted. "It's like a monkey with arthritis, trying to go onstage and look young."
The second part of the accusation is strange -- if a Rolling Stone is guilty of trying to look young, it's not Keith Richards -- but it's the phrase "monkey with arthritis" that caught the public imagination.
Richards ushers me into his Philadelphia hotel room and fixes himself another vodka and cranberry. The room is as you would imagine seeing Keith Richards' Room in a rather heavy-handed biopic. Incense is burning. Scarves are draped over the lamps. There is a photo of '60s soul singer Garnet Mimms across the room, a small framed photograph of Richards' grandfather Gus on the desk. We sit at a table littered with books: The Rastafarian, Erotica Universalis, Antonio Vivaldi. Some Portuguese guitar music booms from a hefty music system.
Richards talks in a deceptively lazy drawl, and -- just as he brazenly ignores the shifting dictates of fashion and still wears thin, colorful, silken shirts open halfway down his chest -- somewhere in his life he found the manner of speech that suited him and stuck with it. Women are "chicks" (except when they are wives, in which case they become "the old lady"); sentences frequently have a ". . . man" appended to their end; and anyone -- including me can be referred to as "baby" if it will help the sentence to roll right.
Keith Richards' room always has a name, and on this tour it is known as the Baboon Cage. The simian reference is a coincidence. "The baboon cage was my room way before Elton got into this thing," Richards says before I can ask. The Elton John feud is not for discussion. "You can forget about that," he pre-empts, "except I'll say this: I guess the truth hurt."
What do you mean?
In his eyes I see the beginning of a glare. "I don't have to explain any more. If you don't get it . . ." He shrugs. "The only reason Elton spoke out like that is in response to something that I said, and I guess the truth must have hurt. I was talking about a funeral, and the rest of it doesn't bother me. It's all on him. He's got to live with it, not me."
I begin another question, but I am clearly pushing my luck. "That's it," says Richards firmly. The glare deepens, and I understand why people used to be scared of Keith Richards. "That's that subject gone."
Almost. He will later note that he is enjoying singing "All About You" onstage -- "There's some lines in there I'm really relishing right now: `Hanging around with dogs like you'; it's nice to sing lines like, 'You're the first to get laid but always the last to get paid'" -- and that on the night the news broke, he dedicated the song to Elton John. And there is one further, small irony worth observing. Elton John triggered these events by singing for royalty in Westminster Abbey. But it is Keith Richards who, more than forty years ago, sang Handel's Messiah for the Queen of England in the very same building, as part of one of the country's finest school choirs. "Some of my most prestigious gigs," he smiles, "were when I was still at school" Those experiences taught him an early lesson about stardom's ugly side. "The real thing I learned was that when your voice breaks -- shrrrmmttt! -- you're out of here. Then you go back to the real world, where you haven't done chemistry for a year because you were let off for the choir."
I think you caught up on chemistry. "Maybe," he grins. "It took me a while. I have a very good laboratory."
There are others who knock him. In the world of David Letterman, Richards has replaced Bob Dole as the totem of everything impossibly aged. "I can only put it down to jealousy," Richards says. "They can't understand why I can do what I do 'at my age.' What is it with these guys? Because they can't do it? Just because chicks throw their panties at me and I'm fifty-four? So? So I'm sorry, you little boys who can't get that action. Well, stuff you . . .,p> What would you say if you met him?
"If I walked into his studio, I'd say, 'As usual, it's too cold.' It's terrible to play in. It gives a horrible ambience to the whole show. Just because he doesn't want to sweat, you know. Well, I like to sweat, and I sweat every night."
Last night in Charlotte, N.C., he tells me with great excitement, his fingers remembered a little flourish in "Jumpin' Jack Flash" that he swears he hasn't played since he made the record. "Just a curly little lick," he says. "The songs keep on teaching you."
The drinks and questions roll on. I ask him about his dreams, and he says: "The only recurring dreams I can remember are all on cold turkey, and it was always that the dope was hidden behind the wallpaper. And in the morning, you'd wake up and see fingernail marks where you'd actually tried to do something about it."
I ask him what Mick Jagger would never do, and Richards says: "You know, there's nothing I can think of. He'd say he'd never take drugs again. I mean, it depends who he's talking to."
I ask him which cliches about himself have become most tiresome. "Sometimes," he says, "you feel a certain pressure of being wished to death. That kind of can get to you. It just stinks a bit. Shit, they've been wishing me dead since the early '70s, man."
The Baboon Cage is open most nights for anyone on the tour who wishes to hang out. There is a small Baboon Cage suggestion box to which visitors are invited to contribute anonymously. It gets opened once a week. "I've had a few 'Fuck off, you cunt's,'" Richards laughs, "but you expect them. Last week there was 'The wicked get wickeder' and 'You should get some sleep tonight.'"
As a rule, Richards does not get some sleep on any night. He normally crashes out at about 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. in the morning, and he talks about having breakfast or going to the shops as activities you stay up to do. His is a body with its own rules. "The permanent night shift," as he calls it. The night energizes him, he says, but there's nothing like drawing back the curtains and seeing 10-in-the-morning, happy-new-day sunshine to make him feel tired and drive him into bed. He'll generally rise around 3 p.m. in the afternoon and start to get going around 5 p.m.
In this and many other ways, convention is something that Keith Richards has been careful not to respect. But he does not wander aimlessly -- he has thought these things out. "Why do you think there's this three square meals a day?" he asks. "This is about factories. You eat, you go to work, you get a break for lunch; when you're finished you get your dinner. But people should never eat like that. They should have little bits every two hours." And, consequently, that is what Keith Richards does.
Two days later, one of the Rolling Stones gets ill, and they have to cancel an MTV concert. It is Mick Jagger.
That night, backstage in Philadelphia, I am invited into the tuning room. Wood gets me a Guinness. "This is the sanctuary," Richards explains. "This is the string section's room." For a couple of hours before the show, the two guitarists gravitate between here, where they noodle about together on guitars, and the bar, where they play each other at snooker.
Wood stands up. "I've got a bee up my nose," he complains. "It could be anything up to the size of a large bat," mutters Richards. "The sun's not down," he adds quietly.
Wood nods. "Can't wake up till the sun goes down."
Richards breaks into a spirited boogie; Ronnie sits back down and joins in. Richards breaks off and holds up his guitar. "Some guitars are too good for the stage. This is a '54." He points to Ronnie's. "That's a '47." It's a nice flourish, within all the ritual excess of such tours: these guitars traveling from city to city, tuning room to tuning room, never to be seen in public, forever a private pleasure.
An emissary tells Richards and Wood that they will be required in ten minutes for the meet 'n' greet with people of local importance -- in particular the representatives of their sponsor, Sprint.
"Meet 'n' greet," grumbles Richards. "That shit. Sprint in and out. Can we do it by phone?" He plays on. "We had enormous gunfights about which song to play," he says. "Everything was cool. Once the smoke cleared."
Mick Jagger joins us. This is a different Jagger from the one I met in a hotel room or the one I see onstage. Those have a certain swagger and a king-of-the-castle-and-I-don't-care insouciance about them. But this man looks like the other Jagger you see in those early-'60s clips -- already cocky, no doubt, but also delicate, slightly effete and curiously deferential, his arms always likely to fold over in front of his body when they have nothing else to do.
Wood has something to ask Jagger. Tonight is Blues Traveler's final night opening for the band, and maybe this can be the night when John Popper satisfies a small dream. "The bloke from Blues Traveler," Wood says, "offered his services as an extra harp player...." "Fuck off," says Jagger. "I thought you'd say that," says Richards. "The dueling harps -- I don't see it."
"He's a pretty good harp player though," Jagger reflects. "Too good. He plays an awful lot of notes."
Which Book Have You Read Twice?
Ronnie Wood: Silence of the Lambs. I like evil books.
Mick Jagger: Travels With My Aunt, by Graham Greene, comes to mind instantly. I've read quite a lot of Graham Greene twice. He's a very good prose stylist.
Charlie Watts: I've just been through all the Wodehouse books: Jeeves and Wooster. I think he's very funny.
Keith Richards: Loads of them. I never catch it all the first time. There's an excellent book I've quite often read called Hashish, by a couple of French guys. Very interesting. It's an education in chemistry and folklore. I've done the Bible and the Koran a few times. Sometimes just for the prose, sometimes for information. The Kamasutra I've been through a few times, come to think of it. [Laughs] I've done the chandelier, and the revolving table with the melon. I've done it all, mate.
A History of Intraband Fisticuffs in the Rolling Stones
Sometimes they have come to blows. Keith Richards enjoys telling of the Amsterdam Watts vs. Jagger affair in the '80s, when a drunk Jagger phoned up Watts' room at 5 a.m. in the morning and referred to him as "my drummer." Legend has it that Watts got dressed in his best clothes, went to find Jagger and nearly punched him out a window.
"It never actually happened like that," says Jagger. "He pushed me, but I don't think he actually punched me. There's quite a lot of difference, in my book."
Watts acknowledges the incident -- "I was drunk. I was really pissed off" -- but looks mortified at its mention. "It's not something I'm proud of," he says.
Then there was the great Richards vs. Wood set-to sometime around the end of the '70s or the beginning of the '80s. "There was too much stuff going on in his room," Richards recalls. "He had some dodgy people in there."
"He came at me with a broken bottle," remembers Ronnie. "He was going for the face. So I said, 'Keith, I may be stupid, but I'm not a cunt.'" Ronnie fought back: "He'd have gone out the window if someone didn't catch him."
Do you think he would have used the bottle?
Ronnie nods. "Yeah."
And, as it happens, there has been a third, more recent, altercation. Holed up in Toronto before the tour started, the band had decided, unusually, to rehearse on a Saturday. Ronnie had pointed out that he would want to stop to see the boxing: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Hector Camacho. He had a bet on it. "Everyone watched it as well," says Ronnie, "but I got the blame for dragging everyone away from the rehearsal. But, unknown to me, Keith was pacing during the whole fight, waiting for everyone."
After the fight, Ronnie went upstairs to the rehearsal room. "I was totally surprised. I walked back in and . . . hrrggghhhhh-eurgghhhhhhh!" explains Wood. Richards leapt on Wood, his hands around Wood's throat. "Everyone was in shock," says Wood. "But it's something I have to be aware of with Keith, you know. I could say, `OK, I can't live with this shit,' but he's my mate. He's my pal."
Were the others there?
"Yeah," he says. "Just. . . shocked." Keith doesn't look too happy when I bring this up. As it turns out, there is another side to this story. "I had to go to a funeral the next day, and I made a mistake," he says quietly. "I was pissed off at being there, and I was left alone. When Ronnie came back . . . I'd asked him to stay with me, because I should have been with my old lady, whose sister had died, and I felt very bad about that. The next day I had to fly to New York and carry a coffin, so I wasn't really compos mentis. But in a band, anyone got a problem, it's best to flash it out straightaway . . . "
Some Myths Addressed, Some Propagated #5
Me: Have you ever performed with anything stuffed down your trousers?
Jagger: Oh, no. Do people actually do that?
"How you doing, Philly?" Richards beams. "Smells the same."
Often, watching the Rolling Stones in Chicago, I found myself forcing my enthusiasm: Too much of the show was theoretically exciting, but I simply didn't feel it. Two weeks later, in Philadelphia, it's a quantum leap. They play better songs ("Gimme Shelter," for instance, but none of their recent songs with "rock" in the title). The dumb pom cartoons that illustrated "Bitch" and "Miss You" are gone. And they have a bridge, which rises out of the center of the stage and -- extending as it arcs above the audience -- curves all the way, unsupported, to a small stage in the arena floor, which itself rises to greet it. It's hokey and dumb -- it's just a bridge -- but it's worth a little gasp.
The music is rougher and less clipped. Tonight, it is as though Mick Jagger is less concerned with showing off his impressive physicality; it's as though . . . well, it's as though he has joined the band. And it is as if they are all trying less and succeeding more. Afterward, Jagger will complain that his throat is bad and things will start being canceled, so possibly some of this is caused by illness and necessity. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that when the Rolling Stones feel they have something to prove, they're not bad, but it is when they feel they have nothing to prove that they're at their finest.
The Hair Of Keith Richards: A Short Cosmetic Note
Keith Richards' hair is now, Suddenly, authentically gray-white. He can explain. "The last tour, I was talked into 'keeping it constant,' so they kept putting this crap in," he says. "I got sick of that stuff. This is the way it's going to stay. I just couldn't be bothered to fake it."
That individual 17-length, 12-direction, pointy, icicle-and-feather style is sculpted by Richards himself. He says that he last allowed a professional hairdresser to cut his locks when he was fourteen. After that, he realized that he could handle it himself and keep the haircut money for cigarettes. "Nobody's ever touched it since," he says. "I mean, a few chicks have had a snip here and there when I'm asleep. The Samson bit. Those damned Delilahs! Otherwise, no. I never say I'm going to cut my hair. I just walk into the bathroom and there's a pair of scissors and I say, 'That bit's got to go.'" He doesn't look in the mirror. His hair, like its owner below, does what it will. And why would he want somebody else's idea on top of his head?
One other thing that steels his hair-autonomy resolve: "I don't like people around me with sharp objects. That's my job . . ."
It was at this stage of our meeting that Keith Richards produced a sheathed bayonet from the chair next to him and placed it on the table between us. Its blade was about five or six inches long. When quizzed, he replied that it travels with him. "For the unexpected," he said. "One has to be prepared." That devil smile. "You want another beer?"
CHRIS HEATH (RS 775 - December 11, 1997)