What the Rolling Stones Thought of 1990s Rock

June 1964: From left to right; Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones (1942 - 1969), Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones pose for a photo in a New York street, while a policeman holds back some curious spectators. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

The 1960s and the 1990s are considered two great decades for rock — but that doesn’t mean 1960s rock stars always liked 1990s rock stars. The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were known for speaking their mind and creating controversy. Did they ever speak their minds on 1990s rockers?

The similarities between 1960s rock and 1990s rock

Rock music was a huge cultural force in the 1990s. Some of the bands of the time took obvious inspiration from 1960s music. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden clearly incorporated some of the heavy sounds of Led Zeppelin into their work. In addition, the unorthodox lyrics of many 1990s rock songs are indebted to the strange lyrics of 1960s acts like the Beatles and the Moody Blues.

The Rolling Stones arguably exerted a certain amount of influence over 1990s rock. A number of their best songs, from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to “Angie” are about angst, and angst was the major lyrical theme in grunge music. So what did Jagger think about 1990s rock?

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones

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Mick Jagger on Nirvana and other 1990s bands

“I’m not in love with [rock music] at the moment,” Jagger told Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner in 1995. Jagger admitted he “was never crazy about Nirvana — too angst-ridden for me. I like Pearl Jam. I prefer them to a lot of other bands. There’s a lot of angst in a lot of it, which is one of the great things to tap into. But I’m not a fan of moroseness.” Jagger added, “I don’t think any of these bands would claim to be daringly different.”

Wenner asked Jagger about the influence 1960s bands had on 1990s bands. “In that there’s four people playing guitars and so on, there’s a lot of ’60s influence. It may appear that they’re playing the same thing or look the same on MTV, or there’s certain haircuts you’ve seen on the Byrds. But the grooves are different.” In addition, Jagger felt none of the American bands of the 1990s shared the Rolling Stones’ sense of the theatrical, save for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Keith Richards on the Rolling Stones’ influence on Generation X rock

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

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Keith Richards opened up about the same topic. In a 1994 interview with Guitar World, Gary Graff noted how the Rolling Stones fell out of favor with other bands in the 1970s while “younger bands” from the 1990s revered the Rolling Stones. Richards attributed this to “a matter of fashion and timing.” He also felt things had come “full circle” now that current bands revered the Rolling Stones. In addition, Richards admired how many current guitarists were getting involved in music at an early age.

On the same token, Richards admitted he wasn’t too familiar with Nirvana, the band which was often seen as the voice of the mid-1990s. Richards didn’t even know Kurt Cobain’s name for much of Nirvana’s existence. Some fans could see that as a slap in the face to 1990s rock! Regardless of what Jagger and Richards said, the Rolling Stones still clearly meant something to the rockers of Generation X, and their influence on other musicians lasts to this day.

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