It’s no mystery that the Rolling Stones have left a legacy as a group. However, the individual members have also left their own mark on the rock ‘n’ roll world. In anticipation of the 30th anniversary of Keith Richards’ second solo album, Main Offender, the 78-year-old reminisced about his role as a frontman.
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“I never envisioned doing anything by myself. I don’t. Now, I wonder why. But at the time, it was just that all we did was the Stones,” Richards said in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. “It was pretty much a full-time, all year-round job, by the time the tours and the recording.”
The idea of stopping for a while opened the door for solo work. “We are not going to be working for a few years,’ was a bloody shock, quite honestly. And Charlie Watts had said to me, he said, ‘Listen, if you’re going to do anything by yourself, Steve Jordan is the man to go to.’ And finally, after that, Steve and I slotted in with each other almost by accident. And so once I got over the shock of change, I found it real easy because Steve and I suddenly found a thing going. And I found it really encouraging to write songs with a drama. Because that was new to me. “
Richards released Main Offender in 1992 between the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge. Richards shared that his experience as a frontman was valuable. From Main Offender to Crosseyed Heart in 2015, he found the experience to be “surprisingly different.”
“I had learned a lot more about being the frontman,” Richards said.
“In other words, I came back to the Stones with a lot more knowledge of what Mick’s job entails. And it’s quite surprisingly different, you’re out there all the time. I mean, you are nonstop. With the Stones, I can slide my time. But doing the [X-Pensive] Winos, while I was working the Winos singing and playing guitar too, that tightened me up a lot. And I brought a lot of knowledge and a much tighter feel when I got back to the Stones. One thing could have fed the other.”
Richards’ celebration comes just shy of The Stones’ 50th anniversary of Exile on Main St. still one of his favorites. He reflected on the band’s early start and recalls that many great memories came of their time working on that album in particular.
“Well, Exile is, it is one of my favorite babies, man and it was an incredible record to make in this damn basement,” he said.
“And I sometimes wondered if we’d never get out of there, but one of my favorite. That house in the south of France where we recorded was bizarre to the max, and I have great memories of it. It was Riviera beach time. Everybody’s going crazy. And yeah, that was a hell of a record. We liked it so much it became a double.”