By Michael Wright
For nearly five decades, they have been rock’s greatest soap opera. Jagger/Richards. The Glimmer Twins. Mick and Keef. One is a keen businessman with an equal eye on the gate receipts and the dressing room mirror, where a carefully groomed image has helped make him the greatest frontman of all time (according to a recent Gibson.com poll). The other is a torn and frayed pirate who wears the scars of his 67-year battle with authority like a badge of honor. Somehow, their irresistible push and pull has generated some of the greatest music of the rock era. And their conflicts have generally remained behind closed doors. Oh, we might have heard grumblings here and there (like in the ’80s when Jagger decided to embark on a solo career). But by and large, the details of their grievances were kept to themselves…until this year, when Keith Richards aired his laundry in a bracingly forthright autobiography, Life. In that book, Richards takes swipes at his longtime partner that are both personal (some exceedingly) and professional. For his part, Jagger has retained his dignity and not addressed the barbs — until now.
In an interview published by the New York Times’ Tmagazine this weekend, Jagger sideswiped Richards’ memoirs, saying, “Personally, I think it’s really quite tedious raking over the past. Mostly, people only do it for the money.”
When asked if he would ever write his own account of the band’s long and sordid history, Jagger retorted, “You don’t want to end up like some old footballer in a pub, talking about how he made the cross in the cup final in 1964.”
Though he maintains the same carefully managed façade that has made him one of the most compelling artists of the past century, Jagger let down his guard just a bit to reveal a certain sensitivity, perhaps rubbed raw by Richards’ words.
“Public people put a lot of energy into what people think about them. Everyone does. I don’t care what they say. Everyone cares about it. You always want to control your image. I mean, you obviously can’t control it 100 percent. But if you’re a famous person, you obviously have a public personality that you try . . . that you want to project.”