Keith Richards Bags on the Beatles: ‘Mishmash of Rubbish’

Keith Richards is a venerable 71 years old, but there’s a few things that the legendary musician will never be able to leave behind with age. First, his music, of course – he has a new solo album coming out, Crosseyed Heart, on September 18, which marks his first in 23 years. Second? That age-old competition: The Stones vs. the Beatles.

In the September Issue of Esquire, Richards addresses the Fab Four and notes without pulling any punches that he thought some of their later music was sub-par.

“The Beatles, chicks wore those guys out. They stopped touring in 1966 – they were done already. They were ready to go to India and shit,” he says, adding, “There’s not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper.

What’s wrong with Sgt. Pepper? “Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish,” Richards opines. “Kind of like [the Rolling Stones’ 1967 release] Their Satanic Majesties. If you can make a load of s**t, so can we.“

Some—many, actually—might disagree that either album is of that caliber, but, well, it’s hard to argue with Richards himself, who states that musicians such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard are “heroes, warts and all,” to him.

Oh, and by the way. Another thing he’ll never be able to shed? “I’m probably more well-known because of my image rather than the music,” Richards admits. “I got used to it—he’s like a ball and chain you drag around and it’s some guy you maybe were 25 years ago. But he’s always there.”

Regardless, the iconic guitarist notes it’s all been worthwhile. “Yeah, it’s been worth the price. To become a musician, that was the dream—just to get into a band. You didn’t care if you were stuck in the back strumming away.

“You know, I would have gladly done that,” he adds. “I wouldn’t have minded being a sideman, but things turned out another way. Maybe it was the haircut or something.”

The September issue of Esquire containing the full Keith Richards interview will hit newsstands August 11.