It’s no surprise that with a Rolling Stones tour underway, Rolling Stone magazine has put the legendary band on the cover again. But is there any stone (cough) still left unturned by the magazine when it comes to Jagger, Richards and company?

It turns out, the answer is yes. For better or worse, the tension between Mick and Keith is still there. That may not be fun for the band and their inner circle, but it makes for interesting reading. And Mikal Gilmore, who interviewed the band in 1986 (during the period the band now refers to as “World War III”), went pretty deep with his questions.

Here’s six things we learned from his story, which features interviews with all four Stones:

  • Keith Richards’ position in the band may have been in jeopardy, and not just because of his book, LifeGilmore says that, “According to a source close to the band, when the Rolling Stones convened in London in December 2011, it wasn’t merely for rehearsals but, as far as Jagger was concerned, to see if Richards could still get the job done.”
  • But Life didn’t help matters: Much of Richards’ 2011 memoir, Life, threw barbs at Jagger, taking aim at everything from his control of the band to the size of his manhood. Jagger admits that he required an apology before getting back together: ”Well, I think it was a good thing he got together with me and said that (apologized). I don’t really want to talk about it apart from that, but I think it’s good that he said it, and yes, it was a prerequisite, really.” After a few other questions about Life, Jagger said, ”I don’t really want to talk about Keith’s book.”  Richards told Gilmore, regarding his apology: “I said that I regret if I caused you any, you know, inconvenience or pain, or something. It was . . .I’d say anything to get the band together, you know? I’d lie to my mother.” Asked if he has any regrets about the book, he said, ”I wouldn’t retract a thing, man.”
  • Only one other band has had the Stones’ longevity: Gilmore writes: “As Watts pointed out to me, the only other major band of the past century to enjoy such longevity was Duke Ellington’s, which the jazz pianist led from 1924 to 1974 – 50 years – though there was no lasting core membership during those decade.”
  • Keith is still in awe of Mick’s ability as a frontman (and so is Charlie): Richards said, “There’s moments when you realize, ‘God, man, I love you, baby.’ That can happen onstage a lot. I watch Mick and I’m still astounded. I have to watch out that I don’t become the audience from behind, because when he pours it on, he still amazes me. That’s another reason I love to do this.” Watts added: “Mick is the best frontman going, now that James Brown and Michael Jackson have gone. Being out there, he’s the best. He takes it deadly seriously, as well; he keeps himself together. He looks great – everything you could want.”
  • Keith claims that the band tried to keep prices down on their current tour:  ”It’s like this: We say we want to put a Stones tour together and people come to us with proposals. And these proposals are all basically the same. We actually did push down the prices a little bit. We took the lower offer, in other words. But, um, it’s the price of the market. I don’t really know. I don’t have much to do with it other than I would like people to get in, to be able to afford to get in, without sort of starving their babies and all. And that’s about it.”
  • Keith: Not Totally Sober! Drugs and alcohol have caused Richards a myriad of problems over the decades: from jailtime to strained relationships with his bandmates.  So, does he still partake?  Of course!  ”Being totally straight would be unnatural to me, you know? Everything in moderation, really.”

The Rolling Stones are currently on their “50 And Counting” tour. They perform Tuesday *May 8) in San Jose, California. Get more information about the tour at their official website.

– Brian Ives,


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