The classic songwriter Keith Richards called “too contrived”

News The classic songwriter Keith Richards called “too contrived”

Keith Richards has never been one to shy away from sharing his feelings. The outspoken guitarist has offered both his support and his sneering dislike to countless artists over the years. Given his position as the madman at the helm of rock titans The Rolling Stones, along with Mick Jagger, the musical opinions of Richards tend to hold a lot of weight. During the 1980s, one classic artist, in particular, came under fire from Dartford axeman.

By the 1980s, The Rolling Stones had more or less come to form the rock establishment which they sought to tear down during their early days. Far from being adolescent misfits giving voice to the youthful rebellion of the 1960s, the group now consisted of multi-millionaires living in excess and performing to adoring fans across the globe.

To many, the reality of the Stones development from young misfits to colossal figures of rock was a disappointing one – as Jeffrey Lewis so eloquently put it, “The Stones in ’65 want total satisfaction, kid, but The Stones in ’69 see grace in just getting what you need, and if that’s a victory, then I’d hate to see what I’d look like defeated.”

One side effect of being heralded as rock music elders – it is worth noting, at this point, that the Stones were viewed as elders in the 1980s, and yet they released a new studio album only last year – was that the band members would often be asked to voice their opinions on current trends within music. This has been a trope of music journalists for years, allowing young, up-and-coming musicians to be boosted by the praise of someone older and more notable. On the flip side, it also provides an opportunity for famously egotistical musicians to slag each other off, which The Stones regularly did.

Over the years, everybody from Duran Duran to the entire genre of rap and hip-hop has come under fire by Richards. Often scoffing at more modern musical artists or trends, the guitarist could regularly be heard in interviews comparing other groups to The Rolling Stones. During one interview back in 1988, the guitarist took aim at a long-established and beloved artist, lamenting him as being “too contrived”. Surprisingly, given their shared love for blues rock, Richards was talking about none other than Bruce Springsteen.

Some years prior, his bandmate Mick Jagger had opened up about Springsteen, saying, “I liked it. I thought the band sounded wonderful; I thought he sounded wonderfully well. […] I took the kids also. To tell you the truth, the kids did not like it very much”.

It seems that Richards has something in common with the Jagger children then (aside from, presumably, a complicated relationship with Mick Jagger), as he debated, “I like the guy…I love his attitude. I love what he wants to do. I just think he’s gone about it the wrong way.” before eventually affirming that the ‘Born to Run’ singer is, “Too contrived for me. Too overblown.”

In opposition to his thoughts on the man, Richards has actually performed with Springsteen numerous times, reportedly getting along well with the New Jersey-born songwriter. Nevertheless, Richards launched a further attack on him, saying in his memoir Life, “If there was anything better around, he’d still be working the bars of New Jersey.”

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