Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said working with his ‘80s band the X-Pensive Winos had the surprise side-effect of giving him more appreciation for Mick Jagger.

Richards started the project while the Stones were on an extended hiatus as a result of tensions between him and Jagger, with doubts over whether they’d ever resolve them. Their debut album, Talk Is Cheap, arrived in 1988, while follow-up Main Offender was launched in 1992, although both were marketed as Richards solo albums. Talk Is Cheap was recently released in an extended edition.

“What I was happy about was that I could step out of the Stones and just as easily step back in,” Richards told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “But I learned a lot about being a frontman. I appreciated it a lot more – Mick’s angle on things – onstage especially. It widened my perspective of what everybody has to do in a band. It gave me more respect for the frontman.”

He continued: “You realize that you’re it all the time; you don’t stop. With the Stones, I’m in a beautiful position of being able to go forward whenever I feel like it, or just hunker down with the band and the groove. I have choices. The frontman has no choice.”

He observed that he’d never intended the Winos to continue for long. “It all started because the Stones had this lengthy break in the late ‘80s,” he said. “And it kept going. But maybe it inspired the Stones to get back together. What it did do was, we came up with Steel Wheels, which is not a bad album!”

Reflecting on the pressures associated with the Stones he said: “They’ve sort of gone. I know people want to talk about [things]. But in actual fact, it’s very difficult to put into words because people want to talk about storms in teacups. The large picture remains the same and always will: The way I look at it basically now is, that’s the way Mick and I are. That’s the little grit that makes the pearl in the oyster. It’s that little irritation occasionally that produces the pearl, you know.”


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