Keith Richards Compared a Mick Jagger Album to ‘Mein Kampf’

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger have had their issues over the years, but Richards’ frustration over Jagger’s solo career threatened to break up The Rolling Stones. The guitarist resented the fact that Jagger prioritized his solo music over a Rolling Stones tour. It didn’t help that he flat-out disliked Jagger’s album. In his memoir, Richards disparaged his bandmate’s album. Here’s the surprising reason he compared it to Mein Kampf.

Keith Richards openly disliked Mick Jagger’s solo album
While The Rolling Stones worked on their album Dirty Work, Jagger simultaneously promoted his debut solo album, She’s the Boss. Richards found this frustrating, at least partly because he didn’t think the album was worth it.

“Mick’s album was called She’s the Boss, which said it all,” he wrote in his memoir Life. “I’ve never listened to the entire thing all the way through. Who has? It’s like Mein Kampf. Everybody had a copy, but nobody listened to it. As to his subsequent titles, carefully worded, Primitive Cool, Goddess in the Doorway, which it was irresistible not to rechristen ‘Dogs*** in the Doorway,’ I rest my case. He says I have no manners and a bad mouth. He’s even written a song on the subject. But this record deal of Mick’s was bad manners beyond any verbal jibes.”

Richards thought the album’s weakness hinted that Jagger had lost his grip on what constituted good music.

“Just by the choice of material, it seemed to me he had really gone off the tracks,” he wrote. “It was very sad. He wasn’t prepared not to make an impact. And he was upset. But I can’t imagine why he thought it would fly. This is where I felt Mick had lost touch with reality.”

Keith Richards was also frustrated Mick Jagger didn’t want to tour with The Rolling Stones
Richards may have only resented the album because he thought it sounded bad. It seems, though, that at least some portion of his frustration had to do with Jagger prioritizing it over the Stones’ record.

“By the time we gathered in Paris to record Dirty Work in 1985, the atmosphere was bad,” he said. “The sessions had been delayed because Mick was working on his solo album, and now he was busy promoting it. Mick had come with barely any songs for us to work on. He’d used them up on his own record. And he was often just not there at the studio.”

Richards said that many of the songs on Dirty Work reflected the tense band atmosphere.

“So I began writing a lot more on my own for Dirty Work, different kinds of songs. The horrendous atmosphere in the studio affected everybody. Bill Wyman almost stopped turning up; Charlie [Watts] flew back home. In retrospect I see that the tracks were full of violence and menace: ‘Had It with You,’ ‘One Hit (to the Body),’ ‘Fight.’”

Given the band relations at the time, particularly between Richards and Jagger, it’s not surprising that the guitarist disliked the album.

The Rolling Stones guitarist released a critically acclaimed album
At least one positive emerged from the rubble of the band’s relations in the 1980s. Richards, who had long avoided a solo career of his own, began working on a non-Stones project. He formed the X-Pensive Winos with musician Steve Jordan. They released their debut album, Talk Is Cheap, in 1988.

“After that I decided, f*** it, I want a band. I was determined to make music in Mick’s absence,” he wrote, adding, “I wrote a lot of songs. I began to sing in a new way on songs like ‘Sleep Tonight.’ It was a deeper sound, one I’d never had before, and it worked well for the kind of ballads I had started writing. So I called in guys I’d always wanted to work with, and I knew the man to start with.”

The album received critical acclaim. It also gave Richards insight into the challenge of Jagger’s job as a lead singer. Still, it only brought in a fraction of the sales of a typical Stones record. Richards didn’t feel too bad about this, especially because Jagger was in a similar position.

“In the end neither Mick nor I sold a lot of records from our solo albums because they want the Rolling bleeding Stones, right? At least I got two great rock-and-roll records out of it, and credibility,” he wrote. “But Mick went out there trying to be a pop star on his own. He got out there and hung his flag and had to pull it down. I’m not gloating about what happened, but it didn’t surprise me. In the long run he had to come back to the Stones to reidentify himself — for redemption.”

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