Pop Culture

Keith Richards calls Mick Jagger ‘unbearable’

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards says in his new autobiography that Mick Jagger became unbearable over the years and reveals he also calls the imperious lead singer “Your Majesty” and “Brenda.”

The memoir is peppered with references to other celebrities — from Johnny Depp to John Lennon — but it is the prickly dynamic between Richards and Jagger that dominates the 527-page book, which is to be serialized in The Times newspaper. “Mick is very much interested in controlling things, and I’m very much interested in being uncontrollable,” is how Richards described it to TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an interview that aired Friday.

Richards, 66, who met Jagger at the age of 4, says he has not stepped foot in Jagger’s dressing room in 20 years.

“It was the beginning of the Eighties when Mick started to become unbearable,” Richards writes in the memoir, “Life,” which brought him an advance of 4.8 million pounds ($7.7 million) after a massive bidding war among publishers.

“I felt that he’d really let the band down, let alone me,” Richards told Lauer of that time. “Not just a personal thing — I felt he was really shucking the band.

“But we went through that: The only important thing is, we got back together,” Richards added. “Mick’s my greatest mate ... 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 it’s a damn good baby.”

Richards and Jagger were two of the Stones' founding members in 1962 and wrote its hit songs, leading the group to sales of more than 200 million albums worldwide.

“Sometimes I think: ‘I miss my friend,’ ” Richards writes. “I wonder: ‘where did he go?’ ”

But Richards told the Times that his bandmate had read the book and wanted to take out only one thing — a reference to Jagger using a voice coach.

Richards refused, saying: “I’m trying to say the truth here.”He added about Jagger: “We've had our beefs but, hey, who doesn’t? You try and keep something together for 50 years,” adding the band was considering going on tour again.

“I think it’s going to happen. I've had a chat with ... Her Majesty. Brenda.”

The band’s last tour ended in August 2007, sparking the customary speculation that there would be no more.

Star-studded life
Richards is similarly frank about other big names. He said he had long failed to recognize Depp when the Oscar-nominated star had been hanging out with his son for two years.

“Then one day he was at dinner, and I’m like, ‘Whoa!’ Scissorhands!”

Depp, who played the lead role in the 1990 movie “Edward Scissorhands,” credits Richards for inspiring his character Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the two are currently shooting the series’ fourth installment, in which Richards reprises his role as Sparrow’s father.

Richards also throws in a few choice remarks on the Beatles' Lennon: “Johnny. A silly sod, in many ways,” he writes.

“I don't think John ever left my house, except horizontally.”

He describes finding Lennon lying by the toilet, mumbling: “Don't move me — these tiles are beautiful.”

Richards himself is famous for his insatiable appetite for drugs, although he gave up heroin in 1978 after a fifth drug bust and stopped using cocaine after a 2006 fall in Fiji forced him to undergo brain surgery.

He said he does not regret his exploits.

“I loved a good high. And if you stay up, you get the songs that everyone else misses because they’re asleep,” Richards said.

Still, he told Lauer Friday, “I don’t wanna say here that taking drugs makes you a better musician. That’s — it’s crap, you know?”

During his addict days in the 1960s and 1970s, he spent a decade on the “People Most Likely to Die List.” “That one is the time I topped the charts longer than anybody,” Richards told Lauer with a laugh.

“Life” is published on Oct. 26.

TOP