The Rolling Stones have long been referred to as “the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band,” but back in the ’60s, many people felt that the title belonged to The Beatles. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards thought highly of the Fab Four too, but he says he wasn’t a fan of the band’s more experimental work, such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In fact, he’s just trashed that album, considered a masterpiece, in a new interview.
In an article for Esquire, Richards maintains that he thought “The Beatles sounded great when they were The Beatles. But there’s not a lot of roots in that music,” referring to the group’s psychedelic period.
He adds, “I think they got carried away. Why not? If you’re The Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away — you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish.”
Richards also pointed out that The Rolling Stones wound up answering Sgt. Pepper by recording their album Her Satanic Majesties Request, and he’s not a fan of that, either. According to Richards, the Stones’ attitude was, “Oh, if you can make a load of s***, so can we.”
In another part of the interview, Richards addresses ex-Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman’s recent negative comments about a plaque that was put up at the train station in the Dartford section of London to commemorate the spot where Keith and Mick Jagger struck up a friendship before the formation of The Rolling Stones. In an interview with the BBC, Wyman had complained that the marker was inaccurate because the late Brian Jones had actually founded the band, not Mick and Keith.
“I actually don’t know exactly what it said, but Mick just the other day came up to me and says, ‘Do you believe this s***, man? Bill Wyman is complaining about the plaque at Dartford station,” Richards reveals. “I said, ‘A plaque? I thought we had a statue.'”
He adds that he didn’t understand why Wyman had an issue with the plaque, since “Bill wasn’t there when the band was formed.”
Keith maintains that late piano player Ian Stewart “formed the band [and] we gravitated around him.”
Richards goes on to describe Wyman, who quit The Rolling Stones in 1993, as “a quirky, funny old f***er,” but making sure to add, “We love him dearly, and he was a hell of a bass player. We didn’t tell him to leave.”