December 4, 2017

Keith Richards looked back at the Rolling Stones' early years as featured on the new BBC archival release, On Air, which collects a smattering of the band's UK radio appearances between 1963 and 1965. Richards told The Los Angeles Times, "At the time we were doing this, we were like ‘Oh, my God -- the BBC! We were just trying to disguise our actual terror. Once you got out there -- that’s the thing about the Rolling Stones. Once we started playing, we didn’t give a (damn). They still don’t -- bless their hearts. We just got off the road, and I wish there were a few more shows. We were just hitting a groove! The BBC wanted us and we didn’t know really why or what we were doing. We were playing blues in bars, for Christ’s sake, but then we got a Top 10 record and suddenly we’re the other alternative to the Beatles, bless their hearts. Yeah, I mean, they broke the doors down, especially Johnny (Lennon). We always got along."

Richards touched upon the tracks, which feature the band long before his and Mick Jagger's songwriting partnership fed a multimillion-dollar franchise, explaining, "When I hear it, I hear a lot of energy and enthusiasm -- and then I want to go in and remix it. But there was no remixing done then. You think -- you believe, the way you’re brought up in London -- that the BBC know what they’re doing. Then you get there and find out they have no idea how to record a band like this."

He went on to say that back in the early-'60s, when you played a radio gig, you simply plugged and hoped for the best: "On those shows you had no idea what the microphones were picking up and what was actually coming out of the radio. You just winged it and hoped for the best. Listening to it now, I think they captured the spirit of it all. I could argue about whether Brian (Jones) was too loud or not, but apart from (stuff) like that, I think it’s a fascinating record as a piece. . . For me it’s hard to imagine people want to listen to BBC live recordings of the Stones from 1964 or 5 or 3 or whatever it was. What I can say is I’m amazed there is so much interest in it. And that you people in America know more about it than we do."

Richards gave a little tease as to what fans can next expect from the Rolling Stones: "We’re working on some new (material) now. There’s a new album in the works. We’re slowly putting it together." He went on to joke: "I’m going to sound like (Donald) Trump now: 'Trust me. We’re working on it.''"

in the 1960's, simply going to work could be the most dangerous part of the day. Richards remembered some of the hairier situations he’s found himself in: [“I mean, I’ve been scared a few times -- I’ve been shot at a few times -- nothing’s scared me as much as being caught in a crowd of 13-year-old girls, who have just lost it. I mean, they’re tearing you to bits . . . But if there’s one way to die (laughs), y’know, ‘might as well be it, pal!”] SOUNDCUE (:16 OC: . . . be it, pal)

READ: Full Keith Richards interview:


Newly released is The Rolling Stones - On Air -- the band's first official album featuring selections from their 1963 to 1965 BBC radio performances.

Highlights on The Rolling Stones - On Air include live in-studio takes of "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," "The Last Time," "It's All Over Now," "The Spider And The Fly," "Cry To Me," "Confessin' The Blues," "Route 66," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Mercy, Mercy," "Mona," "Around And Around," "Walking The Dog," "Crackin' Up," "I Just Want To Make Love To You," and the Lennon/McCartney-written "I Wanna Be Your Man."

The collection is released in conjunction with the just published Rolling Stones On Air In The Sixties: TV And Radio History As It Happened, the first full compendium of the band's television and radio appearances during their early years.