The recent Rolling Stone cover story on The Rolling Stones alludes rather bluntly to something that, frankly, I think about with every new clip I watch (in horror) of the current Stones tour: Can Keith even still play?
This time, before there could be any serious preparations for a 50th anniversary tour – something Richards wanted to see happen – Jagger made it plain that there would have to be some sort of reckoning. The details of whatever transpired between the two men remain private, but as Wood commented, things were “tense and awkward.” There was even a rumor that Richards’ position as the Rolling Stones’ rhythm guitarist might be in peril. Some thought he was having trouble playing – that perhaps his hands were growing afflicted with arthritis or that his steady intake of alcohol affected his musical agility. Following a critical review of his performance at a 2007 Rolling Stones concert in Gothenburg, Sweden, in which it was suggested that the guitarist was “super-drunk,” Richards demanded an apology from the reviewer, Markus Larrson, who replied that he wasn’t going to apologize to “a rock star who can hardly handle the riff to ‘Brown Sugar’ anymore.” 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.
These days Keith sounds like the “shredded” version of his guitar playing. Listen to this, it’s fucking diabolical. Does his left hand even function anymore? He can’t even play Chuck Berry riffs! How hard can that be?
Yikes! Doesn’t Keith sound like a drunk Jandek? And Gwen Stefani? Keith Urban? This is whole thing seems so preposterously godawful. The current Stones tour could be the last time, it may be the last time, it bloody well should be the last time (but I don’t know…).
At least Mick and the boys will be eternally youthful on YouTube, even if this 50th anniversary victory lap is rather obviously a consumer fraud… In the clip below, David Frost introduces the Stones performing “Honky Tonk Women” when it was high in the charts in 1969. Nevermind if the band is actually playing live, or else this is a doctored track with live vocals (I really can’t tell), in 1969 Keith Richards was one of the greatest rhythm guitar players alive. Time waits for no one…