The guitarist Keith Richards said played like a “silly sod”

Keith Richards

Just as The Beatles were breaking through with their first two hit albums in 1963, The Rolling Stones, a group of Muddy Waters fans, gained traction in London’s growing R&B scene. While early bandleader Brian Jones laid the groundwork, the songwriting prowess of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger would soon turn the tide.

Despite a press-hyped friendly rivalry later in the 1960s, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones shared mutual admiration during their respective rises as aspiring British Invasion artists. The Beatles, who rose to global acclaim first, famously gave the Lennon-McCartney composition ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ to their London counterparts for one of their early breakthrough hits.

Keith Richards, rhythm guitarist for The Rolling Stones, discussed his relationship with The Beatles in his memoir, Life. Overall, he had only positive things to say about John Lennon. But he mocked him as a “silly sod” in his remarks.

I liked John a lot,” wrote Richards. “In many ways, he was a moron. I used to chastise him for wearing his guitar too high on his back. They used to wear them around their chests, which restricted their movement significantly. It’s as if you’re handcuffed. ‘For Christ’s sake, get your fucking guitar under your fucking chin. It’s not a violin.’  All of the Liverpool bands did it, including Gerry & the Pacemakers.”

According to Richards, having the guitar a little looser at hip level was far cooler. It’s also much easier to club any nefarious stage invaders this way. In return, Lennon probably found Richards’ guitar height amusing and uncool, but the pair admired each other for their respective talents.

The Rolling Stones assembled the groundbreaking concert film Rock and Roll Circus in 1968. He invited Lennon to participate alongside The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Jethro Tull, and others. For the occasion, Lennon formed The Dirty Mac, a one-time supergroup comprised of Richards, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Yoko Ono.

Richards most likely focused his admiration on Lennon’s songwriting. It was his most important characteristic. However, the Stones’ guitarist has always felt a stronger connection to George Harrison. “The thing is, you’ve got your Jimi Hendrix, your Eric Clapton, and then you’ve got guys who can play with bands.” George was a band and a team player,” Richards once said of the so-called “Quiet Beatle.”

“People get carried away with lead guitars, feedback, and it’s all histrionics when it comes down to it.” “George was an artist, but he was also a fucking craftsman,” he added.

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