Between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, there are just an elite few that gain much traction in the battle for the title of the Greatest Rock Band Of All-Time. Members of the two groups were and still are well-aware of this, which leads to their members occasionally dishing out opinions on their peers like rock and roll gospel.
Keith Richards, the longtime guitarist for the Rolling Stones, recently sat down with Esquire to deliver one such derisive opinion on what many consider to the Beatles’ greatest work — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While discussing the frantic attention the Stones received from female fans, Richards took the time to criticize the Beatles’ album. He also conceded that the Beatles were much more popular with the females in the audience than the Stones.
But Richards didn’t seem to say this with the purpose of aggrandizing the band, but rather to say that it was partially responsible for what Keith sees as a drop-off in the intent the Beatles’ music. In the interview, the Rolling Stones member argues that by 1966, the band was “ready to go to India and s**t.”
“No, I understand—the Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there’s not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away—you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties—’Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.'”
Although many Beatles fans will be irked by the comment, it is notable that Richards compares Sgt. Pepper to the Rolling Stones’ own His Satanic Majesties. That album, often described by rock critics as their own take on Sgt. Pepper, takes a similar experimental tone.
Besides his views on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, Keith also addressed another recent Rolling Stones controversy. Bill Wyman, one of the earliest members of the band, spoke out when a plaque went up at Dartford Station that commemorates it as the location where Mick Jagger and Richards met before “going on to form the Rolling Stones,” reported BBC News. Wyman felt that this was incorrect as it left him out as one of the band’s formative members.
“I know he took umbrage with that, but I can’t understand why. Bill wasn’t there when the band was formed. Ian Stewart formed the band—we gravitated around him. Bill was a quirky, funny old f**ker, but why he should make some kind of public ‘do about it. . . . I think Mick sent a note saying— because Bill comes from a town called Penge—’Bill, if a plaque went up in Penge station that said you were the founding member of the Rolling Stones, do you think we’d complain?’ But Bill—oh, we love him dearly, and he was a hell of a bass player. We didn’t tell him to leave.”
Do you think the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards is speaking the truth or blasphemy about the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper?
[Image via Ian Gavan / Getty Images and Capitol Records]