The Beatles were so big that it's hard for people not alive at the time to realize just how big they were. There isn't a real comparison with anyone now. I suppose Michael Jackson at one point, but it still doesn't quite seem the same. They were so big that to be competitive with them was impossible. I'm talking about in record sales and tours and all this. They were huge... They certainly were not a great live band. Maybe they were in the days of the Cavern, when they were coming up as a club band. I'm sure they were hilariously funny and all that. And they did have this really good onstage persona. But as far as the modern-day world, they were not a great performing band. But... (t)hey were the Beatles. They were this forerunning, breakthrough item, and that's hard to overestimate.
The Beatles, obviously, I throw them in. Obvious.
The Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there's not a lot of roots in (Sgt. Pepper). 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 mish-mash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties - Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.
Whatever these sweet young things who dig Dylan say, I bet they don't understand much of what he is doing. We play a lot of his LPs, Brian and I, and quite a lot of his lyrics don't mean anything to us. I have nothing against Dylan or Donovan but I'm sick to the back teeth about the characters who are just climbing on a craze, that think they can make quite a fortune.
Who do I see as my peers? Bob! Bob, I love Bob. Mind you, you never see him. We exchange the odd note here and there. The fact is that Bob's band has now since, well, for the last 15 years, been run by Georgie Recell, who's the drummer. I leant him to Bob for six months, and that was in 2001... Bob, I love. That guy's got white line fever, he works constantly. It's unbelievable.
I always loved Pete (Townshend). He's very bright, always thinking. He had this insane, rebellious, self-destructive streak.... But I love Pete. He was an exciting performer in the heyday of the Who.
I mean, I always thought (Roger) Daltrey was all flash. And I love Pete Townshend, but I always thought the Who were a crazy band, anyway. You would say to (Keith) Moon, if you were in a session with him, Just give me a swing, and he (couldn't)... He was an incredible drummer, but only with Pete Townshend. He could play to Pete like nobody else in the world. But if somebody threw him into a session with somebody else, it was a disaster. There's nothing wrong with that; sometimes you've got that one paintbrush, and you rock it. I just was never really interested in that many English rock & roll bands actually, at all. I mean, I usually like guys like Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and that was before I was even recording.
I was influenced by her. She's one of the first women performers I worked with who has the same aggressive thing that I've got. A lot of women performers are quite static - or certainly were in the '60s... She was a female version of Little Richard and would respond to the audience - really go out and grab them.
I always liked Steve Marriott very much, from the English point of view. You know, the Small Faces. And then he had Humble Pie.
Jimi Hendrix could play the ass off anyone. I think he was as good a blues player as B.B. King is. I think he could do it standing on his head, you know what I mean?
I loved Jimi Hendrix from the beginning. The moment I saw him, I thought he was fantastic. I was an instant convert. Mr. Jimi Hendrix is the best thing I've ever seen. It was exciting, sexy, interesting. He didn't have a very good voice but made up for it with this guitar.... I was quite friendly with him. He was a really sweet guy. A bit confused.
I mean, Jimi Hendrix. Love him dearly. Incredible. (But h)e ruined guitar. That whistling saw sound. That's what they say about Coltrane with saxophones. Fantastic player. Unfortunately, he ruined the instrument, because after that everybody growled through it.
Ginger is the best drummer to come up through this era. I first saw him playing in jazz groups with Jack Bruce. He's got it all. I mean, he's a white African. Ginger wasa very influenced by another guy I love, Phil Seamen. Phil was one of the first African-type western players, a beautiful player, and Ginger is the same.
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE
When people say What bands do you listen to? Like quite often new bands don't make that good records, because making records is not the same as playing. SEEING a new band is the thing. I haven't really seen that many new bands that have really knocked me out. I mean, I haven't seen Sly and the Family Stone onstage. Their records are nice, you know; some of their records are very good. But onstage they're supposed to be fantastic but I've never seen them....
THE GRATEFUL DEAD
The Grateful Dead is where everybody got it wrong. Just poodling around for hours and hours. Jerry Garcia, boring shit, man. Sorry, Jerry.
I played their album quite a few times when I first got it, but then the guy's voice started to get on my nerves. I don't know why; maybe he's a little too acrobatic. But Jimmy Page is a great guitar player.
I just read in Sounds the poll for awards. (Shakes his head in disagreement) For best songwriter, it said Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, followed by Ritchie Blackmore and some amazing people I don't know. England is very strange, as far as its music goes.
I'm not going to say Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath. I'd only be lying, they're not my favourites. They're all good, I owe them - they're all good players and everything. But as a band, nah. They're thrown together and you always feel it. You can always see the join.
I love Jimmy Page, but as a band, no, with John Bonham thundering down the highway in an uncontrolled 18-wheeler. He had cornered the market there. Jimmy is a brilliant player. But I always felt there was something a little hollow about it, you know?... I think (Robert Plant is) doing better stuff now — he did that that thing with (Alison Krauss). I heard that and thought, Finally, he's getting his chops! But no.
IGGY POP & LOU REED
Iggy (Pop)'s all right. I saw him with David Bowie on that last tour - the band was pretty ropey, I thought. Here, but listen, I know who started all that! Lou Reed. Lou Reed started everything about that style of music, the whole sound and the way you play it. I mean, even WE'VE been influenced by the Velvet Underground... No, really. I'll tell you exactly what we pinched from the very first Velvet Underground album. You know, the sound on Heroin. Honest to God, we did! (see "Stray Cat Blues", opening guitar lick)
JOHN LENNON, PAUL MCCARTNEY
I liked John very much to start. We all had a good relationship with John. He seemed to be in sympathy with our kind of music, so we used to go out to clubs a lot... He was educated and very smart and cynical and funny and really amusing company. He had a very funny take on the rest of the Beatles... But I used to get on with Paul as well. Paul is very nice and easy to get on with - didn't have the acerbic side. You always knew with John, you're gonna be on the end of a lot of sarcastic remarks that you weren't always in the mood for.
No, I'm not at all interested in what (Paul McCartney) does. Unfortunately, John Lennon's dead...
I like Paul. I don't know if I could do that all by myself. And as long as Paul enjoys what he's doing. A lot of people enjoy it, and there it is. But I don't see any push out of it. Maybe you shouldn't expect it at our age (laughs)...
BLACK SABBATH, METALLICA
(Most rock music) sounds like a dull thud to me. For most bands, getting the syncopation is beyond them. It's endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift, no syncopation. Millions are in love with Metallica and Black Sabbath. I just thought they were great jokes.
THE NEW YORK DOLLS
Ugh, the New York Dolls! What a load of rubbish!
Lovely bloke, but posing.
Yeah, (seeing Elton John singing at the Princess Di funeral) did jar a bit. Songs for Dead Blonds. But he was a personal friend, after all. I'd find it difficult to ride on the back of something like that myself, but Reg is showbiz.
I would think contrived.
Oh God, Aerosmith! They're just rubbish - absolute bullshit. The singer (Steve Tyler) is quite a nice guy, mind you. He's almost too bloody sweet. He's very kind to me, anyway (smirk). Yeah, you know what I mean. He's such a little sweetheart, really - what can you do with him? Punch 'im in the mouth? Here, what are you playing at, fuckin' impersonating me? - Slam! (Laughs)
and his other Twin, Steve Tyler, 1994
THE SEX PISTOLS
Well (if Johnny Rotten said we should have retired in 1965), then he should definitely retire next year. He was on Tops of the Pops in England and that was a cop-out for the Sex Pistols. It's difficult for Americans to know what Top of the Pops means, but it's the only pop music show on television - and I do mean pop - and the only place for Top Twenty records and it's the most banal - it's aimed at a real teeny market, people with clean hair ad all that.... Now they're on the front of the Rolling Stone. That's a real cop-out. If I was Johnny Rotten, I wouldn't do either. I wouldn't do Top of the Pops and I'd tell Rolling Stone to go fuck themselves... I don't care what Johnny Rotten says. Everything Johnny Rotten says about me is only 'cause he loves me 'cause I'm so good. It's true. (Grins)... I'm not pleased at Johnny Rotten, who says all these nasty things about me. I know that he feels he has to because I'm, along with the Queen, you know, one of the best things England's got.
I don't think that Bowie or Johnny Rotten or all the Zeppelins are anywhere in the future let alone the present. Jagger believes punk is today, is now. To think you've got to do something new just for the sake of doing it isn't real. It's the equivalent to when a lot of Dixieland bands added electric guitars, calling themselves R&B just to stay up with the times. For a band of the Stones' position to do that would have been ludicrous. It's fatal for the Stones to try that. Why the fuck do WE have to sound like the Sex Pistols for? What's the point of listening to that shit? It's for mass-media consumption.
I don't feel connected with bands like the
Clash, the bands that still play every night. I can only see them as repeats
of everything that happened before. I think it's a bit unfortunate, too,
but I think no one would disagree with me. Most musicians in fact do agree
with me. Bands like the Selector and the Specials, which are good bands,
are repeats too. I mean, I
saw bands like that in 1959. It's the same old thing done slightly differently. I like some of the shows I've seen.
Don't you think the Stranglers are the worst thing you've ever fuckin' heard? I do. They're hideous, rubbishy... so bloody stupid. Fuckin' nauseatin', they are.
PINK FLOYD & ELVIS COSTELLO
I liked the Pink Floyd show - better, anyway, than Elvis Costello's. But I haven't been interested in rock for years - I mean interested in it in the way of wanting to talk about it. It's not really the 100% of everything I'm interested in. I guess, I never have been.
I've always liked AC/DC, all right?
I love Tom dearly - he's a true American eccentric, and we need more of them, you know. Brilliant guy, brilliant musician.
THE STRAY CATS
We wanted the new record (Undercover) to sound very 1983, as opposed to something very period, like the Stray Cats. They're very good, but not what I'm after at the moment.
Mick and I picked up on the Stray Cats before anybody else did and tried to sign them to the Stones' label. Brian Setzer's an excellent player and they're all nice guys.
DAVID BOWIE, TALKING HEADS, THE POLICE, EURYTHMICS
No one seems to be doing anything very innovative in stadium shows. I've seen David Bowie, I've seen Talking Heads and the Police, and I mean, is that all there really is?... I'm still waiting for something I haven't already heard. But, I mean, there's no stopping a record like Eurythmics' - it's just straight pop. Real good for what it is. Better than a lot of the bands earning money in arenas, I think, just for records.
The Police are good old hands; I mean, Andy (Summers)'s from the same era as I am. I thought their reworking of Stand By Me - Every Breath You Take - was a beautiful record. The basic thrust of the song is real Drifters, a classic pop sequence with an extra twist thrown in. And Roxanne was one of our big favorites during the 1978 tour.
Oh, yeah, (I saw the Springsteen show). (Laughs) Sure, through the bear and everything. I liked it. I thought the band sounded wonderful; I thought he sounded wonderfully well. It was better than when I saw him last time around. I thought the drums sounded fantastic. I took the kids also. To tell you the truth, the kids did not like it very much.
That's a tough one, because I like the GUY... I love his attitude. I love what he WANTS to do. I just think he's gone about it the wrong way. These are just my opinions, and OK, I'll annoy the lot of you. Bruce? Too contrived for me. Too overblown.
Do you like their records?
Q: Duran Duran.
Mick: (Closes eyes, smiles, remains silent for 15 seconds.)
Q: Uh, right...
Mick: (Laughs) C'mon, Chris, gimme a BREAK!
I happen to think Prince is probably the best of all the newer (artists)... In his position, doing what he does, with what he does, he's by far and away the best, I think. Most exciting, Prince is... He's a good player, as well. When you're that good, you don't start nowhere. You can't be half of these guys unless you're grounded and, on top of that, have a very good natural ability.
It's fashionable to knock Prince now because he seems to have gone off on a tangent (laughs)... No, I think Prince is a great artist, very traditional in some ways. Prince has been overlooked. But he's so incredibly in the mold of the James Brown sort of performer. He broke a lot of musical modes and invented a lot of styles and couldn't keep up with himself. Very prolific, which is rare. Mostly people write three songs and repeat themselves. Prince has a lot of talent as a writer, and I've seen great performances by Prince. He's outperformed almost everyone. I'd rate him at the top. I don't think there's a lot of competition from new artists.
To me it’s got nothing to do with rock’n’roll. What if he played in daytime? (laughs). It’s a light show, for Christ’s sake! But that’s all right, it’s a piece of theatre. I guess what the Rolling Stones are is a little bit of theatre and a little bit of reality at the same time.
I mean, I've had enough of bloody rap. (Imitates rap over knee-slapped beat.) I mean, Mary had a little lamb, her fleece was white as fucking snow. What's the attraction of that? This is kindergarten shit. It's like karaoke. But I'm making records that people can listen to. Obviously, the attraction is there, until they all shoot each other - and they're doing a good job of it. If you want to hear good rap, you should listen to early Jamaican dub, which is some really interesting stuff. At least they didn't keep it to just one meter.
I like U2; I really do. I think Bono, especially, has something special.
INXS I'm quite interested in.
He's a great musician but... he's kind of faceless. A great voice, but that's not enough.
A Holiday Inn band, a club band that made it.
Shave and go home. A wimp in disguise.
GUNS 'N' ROSES
I admire their guts. But too much posing. Their look - it's like there's one out of this band, one looks like Jimmy (Page), one looks like Ronnie. Too much copycat, too much posing for me.
Ziggy Marley I find interesting because he's not just the son of.
NIRVANA & PEARL JAM
I'm not in love with things at the moment. I was never crazy about Nirvana - too angst-ridden for me. I like Pearl Jam. I prefer them to a lot of other bands. There's a lot of angst in a lot of it, which is one of the great things to tap into. But I'm not a fan of moroseness...
THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
The Chili Peppers have a sort of sense of the theatrical, but they can't take it anywhere. It's become a bit cliché, just a guitar thing. Everybody wants to be Neil Young, and Pearl Jam is trying to drive ticket prices down. Doing that, they will never get themselves on a stage this big.
THE HIVES, THE STROKES, THE VINES, THE WHITE STRIPES
I love it. It's gratifying that people are realizing rock 'n' roll is still vibrant. It's great that doors are opening but it's hardly a breakthrough. Imagewise, it looks very much middle-'60s, but musically it's more ironic. Obviously, it's unapologetically taken from that era. They're not trying to hide their influences any more than we were trying to hide that we got lots of ideas from Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. I don't have a problem with that. And I'm sure some of the bands will go on to create their own style.
I haven't really (listened to them). I'm looking forward to seeing them (on the tour). I don't want to listen to the records until I see them. (But it is encouraging to see new guitar music being made.) That's the whole point. What Muddy Waters did for us is what we should do for others. It's the old thing, what you want written on your tombstone as a musician: HE PASSED IT ON. I can't wait to see these guys - they're like my babies, you know?
AMY WINEHOUSEI love it when you meet people and you realize immediately that fame isn't the only thing on their mind. I mean sadly, now, Amy Winehouse could have been that. She already was, but she’s sadly missed. To (think) what she could have done, what she would have done.
ED SHEERAN, JAMES BAY, ST. PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES
Ed Sheeran I really like. The little one-man band. I liked his attitude towards things. I thought, he’s very interesting... What's interesting about him is he's almost a one-man band, to start with, which is always very interesting. I don't know, I feel a very genuine feel from the music and what he's doing. And I love it when you meet people and you realize immediately that fame isn't the only thing on their mind.
And St. Paul and the Broken Bones. He's a cat that can do an Otis Redding. Onstage, he's very interesting to watch. I catch a quick glimpse. Interesting guys, came back to the dressing room and had a chat... I loved James Bay. He's another young cat that I've been interested in lately.