In a #ThrowBackThursday story, The Rolling Stones book “Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye,” written by journalist Robert Greenfield, documented many dramatic moments from the band’s history, including heated moments between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The book claims that Mick Jagger nearly had Keith Richards fired in the 70’s during a dramatic time in the band, though cooler heads eventually prevailed. Richards has been clean from drugs for years. New York Daily News reported:
They arrived at the intersection of make or break just as Richards’ heroin addiction became harrowing. Before the tour even began, Richards and singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, who would die of a 1973 morphine overdose, had lain side by side in a four-poster bed in Richards’ house on Cheyne Walk, dosing themselves with apomorphine and puking into a bucket for 72 hours in a hellish and failed attempt to clean up.
Jagger, who had ended his long relationship with Marianne Faithfull when Ertegun warned him her heroin addiction was putting the band at risk, told Greenfield the band’s “Chuck Berry era” was over.
It was an ominous statement, given that it was a Chuck Berry album Jagger was holding at a train station in Kent that prompted 18-year-old Richards to stroll over and chat him up in 1961 — and that Richards’ worsening addiction was also putting the band at some risk.
That the bromance was over was clearly evident by 1973, when Jagger coldly plotted to replace Richards with guitarist Jesse Ed Davis to keep the Stones on the road if Richards didn’t beat his latest drug bust.
Keith Richards discussed having a ‘little irritation’ with bandmate Mick Jagger in a recent Rolling Stone interview, though he added that he appreciated him.
“What I was happy about was that I could step out of the Stones and just as easily step back in. But I learned a lot about being a frontman. I appreciated it a lot more — Mick’s angle on things — onstage especially. It widened my perspective of what everybody has to do in a band. It gave me more respect for the frontman.”
“You realize that you’re it all the time; you don’t stop. With the Stones, I’m in a beautiful position of being able to go forward whenever I feel like it, or just hunker down with the band and the groove. I have choices. The frontman has no choice.”
On his differences with Mick Jagger, he said, “That’s the way Mick and I are. That’s the little irritation that makes the pearl in the oyster.”
The New York Daily News book review article later describes a breaking point between Jagger and Richards, that later resulted in somewhat of a reconciliation.
In 1973, [Keith Richards] was busted at his Cheyne Walk home for not only drugs but firearm possession as well, a revolver and a sawed-off 9-millimeter Belgian shotgun. Conviction would have meant an automatic one-year jail sentence.
It was then that Jagger decided the show was going on with or without Richards and planned to bring in Davis to replace him. But Richards beat the rap.
In time, Jagger and Richards reached a détente, an accommodation. There was the music, the money, and the incredible intoxication of being a Rolling Stone. That could only happen if they toughed it out together, no matter their mutual disdain.