A new Stones album, a massive museum exhibit, and a historic concert in Cuba: The indefatigable Keith Richards, 72, fills EW in on the rock & roll legends’ big year — and what he thinks of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize win.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Rolling Stones are releasing an album of covers called Blue & Lonesome on Dec. 2. Is it true you recorded it in just three days?
KEITH RICHARDS: Actually, I think it was about five days. For the Stones, that is express! Blues album. It wasn’t planned to be such. We just went in the studio last December, and for some reason we were overtaken by the blues. It was an album the Stones had to make but would never have planned to make. It just happened. It’s like they got the blues off their chest at last!
The band also has a new concert DVD, Havana Moon, which captures your historic March concert in Cuba. What
was it like to play Havana?
Cuba’s incredible, man. We were playing to a million-odd people. And they were all saying, “The times they are a-changing.” Just one great incredible rush of adrenaline and joy. Never thought I’d get there. Mind you, I didn’t think I’d get to Moscow, either! But it’s incredible to go to places that have been so isolated from us all for so long. A beautiful feeling.
How did the Stones’ museum retrospective “Exhibitionism,” which opened in New York City this month, come about?
These people who do exhibitions said, “We think it would be an interesting idea.” The more they laid it out to us, it got more interesting, until eventually I ended up looking at my old apartment!
You’re referring to a re-creation of your apartment in Edith Grove, West London, which you shared with Mick Jagger back in the ’60s.
Yeah, exactly. You’ll see what a hovel we lived in!
One of the instruments in the exhibit is a Gibson Les Paul guitar that you hand-painted. What’s the story there?
I must have been on acid. [Laughs] Yeah, I remember doing that. I think I was waiting to go to jail. There’s not a lot to do when you’re waiting for a trial. That’s the sort of thing that happened! I used to paint my kids’ shoes. You give me some paints, I’ll paint anything!
What’s the vibe among all the Stones members these days?
Oh, absolutely as it should be. Everybody’s obeying me! [Laughs] No, we’re all getting along real well. We had a couple of great shows out in the desert with Bob Dylan [at the Desert Trip festival]. Just got off the road. I want to get them back in the studio as soon as possible.
What do you think about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature?
Why not? About bloody time! It’ll be me next, I think.
Yeah. For Chemistry!
Remember, folks, Keith Richards is (apparently) indestructible. You are not!
Watch a trailer for the Rolling Stones retrospective, Exhibitionism, below.