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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, November 08, 2010

I'm looking forward to reading Keith Richards' autobiography, but in a way I feel as though it has been so thoroughly rebutted by this piece, in which a guy named Bill Wyman ((who is not that Bill Wyman)) channels Mick Jagger's thoughts on Keef's memoir that no more needs to be said. It is beautifully done:

"It is said of me that I act above the rest of the band and prefer the company of society swells. Would you rather have had a conversation with Warren Beatty, Andy Warhol, and Ahmet Ertegun … or Keith, his drug mule Tony, and the other surly nonverbal members of his merry junkie entourage? Keith actually seems not to understand why I would want my dressing room as far away as possible from that of someone who travels with a loaded gun. And for heaven's sake. No sooner did Keith kick heroin than Charlie took it up. In the book Keith blames me for not touring during the 1980s. I was quoted, unfortunately, saying words to the effect of "the Rolling Stones are a millstone around my neck." This hurt Keith's feelings. He thinks it was a canard flung from a fleeting position of advantage in my solo career, the failing of which he delights in. He's not appreciating the cause and effect. Can you imagine going on tour with an alcoholic, a junkie, and a crackhead? Millstone wasn't even the word. I spent much of the 1980s looking for a new career, and it didn't work. If I had it to do over again I would only try harder."

It is an impressive feat to make Mick Jagger a sympathetic figure, but Wyman accomplishes it with the sort of breezy ease that tells me it was a hard bit of writing to pull off. I guess it is pretty much accepted these days that Keef is responsible for most of what is best in what we think of as the Stones at their best, but as Christgau says, "[A]s the Stones defined it, neotraditionalism takes concept, and no matter how fucked Mick is, concept would seem to be his department."

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