We ask the artist everything from what he's listening to to how he feels about the death of Princess Diana

Once they hit middle age, classic rockers tend to mellow into diplomatic elder statesmen — all except the ever-roguish Keith Richards. The still-rolling Stone shares his thoughts on everything from hip-hop to Princess Di.

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT? Mozart. Miles Davis. The blues. I’ve been basically listening to the Stones record for six months [laughs]. So I haven’t had much of a listen to what’s around at the moment. But if that MTV show is any indication, I’m not missing a lot. [Snorts]

DID YOU WATCH THE ENTIRE TELECAST? [Dismissively] No. Enough. Enough.

WHICH OF YOUR PEERS DO YOU STILL KEEP UP WITH — DYLAN? Yeah, I’ll give that [new Dylan CD] a spin, y’know. Bob’s been marking time, but I love that he’s still working on it.

PAUL MCCARTNEY? No, I’m not at all interested in what he does. Unfortunately, John Lennon’s dead.

WHAT ABOUT THE SUPPOSED DEATH OF THE GUITAR? Aah, people just want something to write about. I’m rapped out. I’m sick of ”Mary Had a Little Lamb” with a heavy-handed drum machine going. I wish those guys would all shoot themselves. They’re doing a good job of it. Carry on, boys, y’know.

HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO ACCIDENTALLY SWIPE PART OF K.D. LANG’S ”CONSTANT CRAVING” ON YOUR NEW SINGLE, ”ANYBODY SEEN MY BABY”? Mick had written this really nice song, and Bernard Fowler and myself were doing backup vocals, and we just had a feeling about something. There was something familiar, y’know. And then we forgot about it. About a month ago I was in England with a test pressing. I was playing it in the front room, and my daughter arrived with her friend in the kitchen, and they were starving. And in between mouthfuls they started singing ”Constantly Craving” [sic] over the hook. I went, ”Ohhh!” Nobody had any idea about that. You can inadvertently put in things without ever realizing. It’s just lucky we caught it in time. We called them the minute we realized and said, ”We got a little oops here!” Anyway, I’m keeping my 50 percent! [Laughs]

AS A BRIT, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH? Only that a pretty young mother had died and what a shame. And then when I saw the funeral on TV — who could avoid it? — what I really saw was Britain trying to focus what they really think about the monarchy. It was a bemused, confused thing. They’re probably having family meetings right now [laughs].

WHAT ABOUT THE SIGHT OF A ROCK STAR — ELTON JOHN — SERENADING ROYALTY? Yeah, it did jar a bit. Songs for Dead Blonds. But he was a personal friend, after all. I’d find it difficult to ride on the back of something like that myself, but Reg is showbiz.