While Keith Richards puts Mick Jagger down at several points in his memoir,Life, he actually describes a close and productive relationship that was key for both of them for decades.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, November 19, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Jagger and Richards - Perfect F'in' Partners
Much has been made of Richards' dissing of his old partner in crime and music - Mick Jagger - in his memoir,Life. This is perhaps the primary example, where he compares his heroin addiction to Jagger's personal style:
I also felt I was doing it not to be a ‘pop star.' There was something I didn't really like about that end of what I was doing, the blah blah blah. That was very difficult to handle, and I could handle it better on smack. Mick chose flattery, which is very like junk - a departure from reality. I chose junk.
So, what did they do for one another? Many pictures in the book remind us that the two were mates - laughing and working together - for decades (they met as school kids, actually, but started living together in London in their teens in very sketchy conditions).
Keith complained about having to put up with Mick's philandering (as described by Maureen Dowd ):
He had the "unlikely role of consoler" for Mick's girlfriends when Jagger cheated. "The tears that have been on this shoulder from Jerry Hall, from Bianca, from Marianne, Chrissie Shrimpton ... They've ruined so many shirts of mine." Including when Jerry found a note from one of Mick's girlfriends written backward that said, "I'll be your mistress forever." "Really good code, Mick!" Richards chides.
Yeah, but what about when his son, Marlon, was 7, and acting as Keith's handler as his father - now in his thirties - stayed up all night and slept through concert starting times in drug-induced hazes? Marlon wrote his impressions for the book:
I do remember Mick on that tour was quite sweet. We were in Germany, in Hamburg, and Keith was asleep and Mick invited me to his room. I'd never had a hamburger, and he ordered me one. "You've never had a hamburger, Marlon? You've got to have a hamburger in Hamburg." So we sat there and had dinner. He was very friendly and charming at that time. He really got to Keith too. He was very nurturing; he took care of him. That stood out.
C'mon, Keith - cut the guy a break!
But what is most remarkable is their decades-long collaboration -- several times the length of either of their relationships with women. The story of Andrew Loog Oldham locking the two in a room overnight until they wrote a song -- which turned out to be the all-time classic "As Tears Go by" -- is true. And they continued collaborating on hit after hit (they were ranked as the fourth-greatest rock group of all time).
Time and again Richards describes the two of them working together -- sometimes the initiative coming from Richards (more often with the music -- but not always - -Richards rates Jagger as one of the all-time-great harmonica -- that's "harp" -- players), some times from Jagger. Here is Richards' description of the two working on Some Girls in the late 1970s, after being partners for nearly 20 years.
Because we hadn't been together for a while, we needed to get back our old form of writing and collaborating - doing it all on the day, there and then, composing from scratch or semi-scratch. We jumped straight in, back to our old ways with remarkable results. "Before They Make Me Run" and "Beast of Burden" were basically collaborations. "When the Whip comes Down" I did the riff. Mick wrote it and I looked around and said, shit, he's finally written a rock-and-roll song. By himself! "Some Girls" was Mick. "Lies" too. Basically he'd say, I've got a song, and then I'd say, what if we do it this way or that way?
That's hard to do with two rather large personalities, talents and egos!
So Keith and Mick are actually models for a long-term relationship. Nothing lasts forever -- and, anyway, Keith says he still loves Mick.