Mick Jagger has never been able to establish himself as a megastar outside of The Rolling Stones. For whatever reason, there’s just something that doesn’t feel quite the same when the singer is taken out of the comforts of a band, something that Keith Richards has taken immense pleasure in reminding him over the years.
Jagger began his solo career in 1985 with his debut outing She’s The Boss, which received mixed reviews from critics. Since then, he’s released three more albums, with his most recent coming in 2001 with Goddess In The Doorway.
For that album, The Stones singer recruited a series of famous associates to participate in the sessions, including Pete Townshend, Bono, Lenny Kravitz, and Joe Perry. It was a shift, sonically speaking, from his bread and butter, a decision that allowed Jagger to test himself in a way that he simply wouldn’t be able to do with The Rolling Stones.
Keith Richards has also regularly dabbled in the sphere of solo work throughout the years, but this was never because he fostered any ambitions to hog the limelight. Instead, after Jagger went solo, the guitarist decided to put his spare time to good use by getting in on the act.
“I only did my records because [Jagger] wasn’t working with us,” he told GQ in 2015. “[Jagger’s solo records] had something to do with ego. He really had nothing to say. What did he have, two albums? She’s the Boss and Primitive Cool?” he added.
Richards’ brutal assessment didn’t stop there. He then asked the reporter if he’d ever persevered in listening to an entire album of Jagger’s solo work, and when he responded by saying, “No,” Keef added, “Nor have I. I’ll leave it at that”.
Furthermore, the guitarist knows full well that Jagger has released more than two solo albums, and this snide comment was just another way of him being able to belittle his bandmate. We know that Richards is well aware of the full extent of Jagger’s solo career because he’s referred to his other records by name previously. Although, he deliberately got the project’s title incorrect as he poked fun at the singer.
Speaking to Guitar World in 2002, Keith said: “I think that everybody — with the possible exception of Mick himself — has learned the lesson that Mick Jagger’s really good when he’s with The Rolling Stones. But when he ain’t, I don’t think anybody gives a fucking toss. Whether he gets the message or not. Obviously, he does”.
The aforementioned interview was given shortly after the release of Goddess in the Doorway and, when asked for his thoughts on the album, Richards replied: “What, Dog Shit in the Doorway? I listened to three tracks and gave up on it. Sometimes you wonder. With the Stones he’s great. It’s best to keep him on a short leash”.
Perhaps Jagger did get the message because he hasn’t released another body of solo work since. However, he did once again experiment outside of The Rolling Stones with the ill-fated ‘supergroup’ SuperHeavy in 2011. Still, the occasional faux-pas is insignificant when you’re as ethereal as Mick Jagger.