Video: Richards talks ‘Life’ with Stones
Transcript of: Richards talks ‘Life’ with Stones
MATT LAUER, co-host: Keith Richards , guitarist for the legendary band the Rolling Stones , has penned his memoir. It's simply called " Life ." And it all began with a chance meeting between two former schoolmates on a train outside London .
Mr. KEITH RICHARDS: I was sitting in this carriage with Mick , and we're chugging along towards London , and I see two albums that he's clutching under his arms. And I try to get a glimpse, but I don't want to be obvious, you know? And I see Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry . I finally got a glimpse and they're oh, you know, this is American. Can I have a look?
LAUER: It was the real deal.
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah, I said somebody knows where to find things here, you know.
LAUER: Other than common ground, was there a chemistry?
Mr. RICHARDS: Yes, there always is.
LAUER: Between the two of you?
Mr. RICHARDS: There still is, and there always has been, a certain coming together of energy and a semi-shared vision of what could be.
LAUER: A vision that quickly became a reality. By the mid- 1960s , the Rolling Stones began to stake their claim on a domain once dominated by The Beatles , selling out shows, topping the charts and sending legions of female fans into a frenzy. You say, quote, "The power of the teenage females of 13, 14, 15 when they're in a gang has never left me. They nearly killed me. I was never more in fear for my life than I was from teenage girls ."
Mr. RICHARDS: True . Frightening creatures at that age.
LAUER: Get three teenage girls together, you're in trouble?
Mr. RICHARDS: Man, you know, I nearly got strangled. The frenzy that can be generated. You only have to face it en masse to realize that this, hey, this is something you can't fight. You know, I mean, hey, girls, you know...
LAUER: Sounds awful. You must miss it like crazy.
Mr. RICHARDS: The girls aren't running away, you know, I mean...
LAUER: You tell a wild story in the book, Keith . You talk about "Satisfaction," the song, was one of my favorite songs. I think a lot of people think it's maybe their favorite Stones song.
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah.
LAUER: You wake up one day, you've got your tape recorder by the bed.
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah.
LAUER: And go ahead, tell me. You push play and there's the song.
Mr. RICHARDS: And there it is, yeah, from the night before. I wish all songs came that easy.
LAUER: But you don't remember -- you don't remember sitting up slaving over it?
Mr. RICHARDS: I think I was probably in half sleep, you know, I mean, because I certainly don't remember doing it, and the only thing to remind was this tape machine. Then I played it back, and there is the first shadow, dee-dee, I can't get no satisfaction.
LAUER: Did you know as soon as you heard it that this was something special?
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah, when I heard it back, yes, I thought this -- when I played the tape back, I realized that there was 30 seconds of "Satisfaction" and 45 minutes of me snoring, you know?
LAUER: Keith is candid about the role drugs played in his past. The 1975 tour, he writes, was fueled by cocaine, at times doing lines on stage between songs. Did you ever get the sense that the drugs were ruining the music or hampering the performance?
Mr. RICHARDS: No, I think if I had any sense of that, you know, then you wouldn't have been doing it in the first place . And I don't want to say here that taking drugs makes you a better musician. That's -- is crap.
LAUER: Ten years you were number one on the list of rock stars that people expected to die.
Mr. RICHARDS: Mm. Yeah, this is other people's perceptions, you see? I mean, if one lived off of other people's perceptions, you know, you might as well not live in the first place .
LAUER: But that perception stuck for a long time.
Mr. RICHARDS: Oh, yeah, you know. And I was actually quite proud of it.
LAUER: As a badge of honor?
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah, because I knew different, and I'm here to prove it.
LAUER: You called it a ball and chain. You say, "People think I'm still a goddamn junky. It's been 30 years"...
Mr. RICHARDS: Of course. Yeah.
LAUER: ..."since I gave up dope."
Mr. RICHARDS: More, yeah, yeah. But as I say, an image is like a ball and chain. It doesn't leave you, it's like a very long shadow.
LAUER: You say some very flattering things about Mick , some very flattering things.
Mr. RICHARDS: Come on, bring it on.
LAUER: No, I'll tell you about those in a second. You also do mention the friction.
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah.
LAUER: From the times I've sat down with both of you in the past, I have an armchair psychiatrist theory about this. Tell me if I'm close, all right? Mick 's a control freak . And I don't mean that as a bad thing. I think a lot of successful people are.
Mr. RICHARDS: Well, you said it.
LAUER: Well, a lot of successful people are.
Mr. RICHARDS: Eh.
LAUER: And I look at you and I think nobody's going to control Keith Richards .
Mr. RICHARDS: You put your finger on it. I didn't -- Mick is very much invested in controlling things, and I'm very much interested in being uncontrollable.
LAUER: Matter of fact , I would imagine you bristle at the idea.
Mr. RICHARDS: And so does he because he can't control me.
LAUER: It seems in the '80s it was a -- it's tough...
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah, that was the rough time, yeah.
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah, I felt that he'd really let the band down, let alone me. I mean, not as a personal thing, I just thought that he was shucking the band, you know. And I 've said it in the book, and I say it now. But -- and we went through that. The only important thing is, do we get back together again? We're fighting for the Stones , in our own way, you know, and that's what brings a great band together, you know. You know, you don't do it on milk and honey.
LAUER: But you write some really nice things about him in this book. Let me read you what you said. Quote, "Give Mick Jagger a stage the size of a table and he could work it better than anyone." As a writer, you say, quote, "It's unbelievable how prolific he was, brilliant."
Mr. RICHARDS: Yeah, Mick 's my greatest mate, you know, I mean, and we have this baby called the Rolling Stones . And we may have different ideas at certain times of how to bring baby up, you know, but, you know, it's a damned good baby.
LAUER: You know I love the Stones .
NATALIE MORALES, co-host: That's great.
LAUER: I love Keith Richards . By the way, his wife, Patti Hansen , of many, many years...
LAUER: ...just went through a battle with cancer, and from our reports she is doing well. Our very best to her and of course to Keith .
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