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June 21, 2019 32 mins

Icons is joined by Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards for an intimate career-spanning conversation. Richards' melodies and guitar riffs are some of the most instantly recognizable in the history of rock and roll. iHeart Radio's own Jim Kerr digs into what makes Keith's musical contributions so incredibly special.   

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
I Heart Radio Icons presents our bonus extended interview with
Keith Richards as Jim Kerr sits down with the legendary
Rolling Stone to discuss the thirty anniversary reissue of Talk
Is Cheap, Keith's solo album. Keith Richards, you are one
of the most successful composers, musicians and performers in the

history of recorded music, but also a person who is
not known as one who rests on his laurels. As
a matter of fact, you're famously restless. You have to
be doing productive or creative work all the time, or
apparently you just lose your mind. And and that was

the genesis for the Talk Is Cheap album. You had
time on your hands and and you don't like to
waste it. It's true, that's just one way. The other
way of looking at it is is I had time
on my hands and I really personally had no idea

what to do with it. A certain second set of
circumstances occurred, Well, you took the job as musical director
of the documentary Hail Hail, Rock and Roll for the
Chuck Bearer. Because the important other thing about Talking Sheep
is the relationship with Steve Jordan's right, and you worked

with that. We also first done Aretha Franklin Jumping Jack Flash.
It was just a Whoopie Goldberg movie. That and Aretha.
Will you travel to Detroit for that? Yeah? Yeah, but
we I mean I had to, you know, Aretha called

me and the Uh okay, I'd love to do this, Um,
but I hate to fly. I hate to travel. I said, hey,
Detroit's not far from me and will come to you.
You know. So that was where the genesis of Steve
Jordan's and I started to work together, was with a

wreath just for that one track. Immediately after that, the
Chuck Berry movie suddenly came on the horizon. Um, no,
I have no musical director. Hey, I've yeah, the Rolling Stones.
I've never directed anything in my music director for that.

But suddenly I had to put this band together, the
chuck Berry and obviously Steve Jordan's we said we'd take
this on. Well you you you've you've said in in
in interviews that I've read that you and he almost
immediately bonded. Yeah. Yeah, uh Steve and I I know,

maybe I should go back one little step. Before that,
Charlie Watts had said to me it looks like we're
going to have some time off. And if you're gonna
do anything with anybody else, Steve Jordan's your man, I mean.
And this is like one top drummer about another, you know.

And I've known Steve and and also I respect Charlie
Watts his opinion for the Max and so in a
way it fell together like that. Um, after the reason thing,
the Chuck Berry movie came up and Steve and I said, yeah,

that's how can you turn? That is an offer you
can't refuse, you know what I mean. Chuck has been
my man since I was a nipper, you know. And
for our friends who haven't seen it, you really do
have to see it because Chuck Berry obviously one of
the greatest figure he was in the entire history of
rock and roll. Yeah, I mean I as a writer,

as a performer, as a guitar player, he is. I mean,
this is the guy that had it all, you know.
And and and to work with him. Um, and now
I have to go back just a little bit more
to Ian Stuart, who was the Rolling Stones. Actually, you know,

they wouldn't have existed without instudents. It was our piano
player and our sort of mentor, and you know, he
didn't mind even when he got thrown out of the
band for publicity purposes, you know, but he was still
a part of the band. And we and the band
also knew who's really the boss, and it was Ian Stuart.

And he had said to me just before he died
for some weird reason, he said, Keith, never forget that
Johnny Johnson piano is alive and playing in St. Louis.
And this was a few months before we take on

this gig with with Hale Hale Rock and Roll. And
so then I'm gonna, oh, I am Johnny Johnson is
the other half of Chuck Berry. I mean, here is
the other half of all of those brilliant records that
Chuck made in the fifties and late fifties. And so

I said to Chuck Berry as a taxit, and was chap,
but I thought I tried, and I said, h u,
I hear Chuck Berry's excuse me a bum cut. I
hear Johnny Johnson is around and he's playing. And Chuck

looks at me kind of like nonchalant in was m, yeah, yeah,
I think it's around them as you can. We give
him a coll Okay, yeah, yeah, we'll give him a call.
And to my surprise, the next day at rehearsals, there's
Johnny Johnson and so I now have the two halves

of what made these brilliant records, you know, and they
hadn't played together for years. I don't think they actually
liked it much. But then what else, what else is
that happened? But yeah, the chemistry between them was amazing
and so in a way I sort of fulfilled these

two things from Charlie Watts Steve Jordan and from the
Ian Stuart Johnny Anson, and by putting Chuck and Johnny
back together again, and also as a colliery of that, um,
Johnny went on to have a very successful and were

you know, recognition that he deserved for the rest of
his life, which I'm very very proud of, and I'm
very thankful to Ian Stewart for fill him in on
those little things, you know. Um. So, after these two projects,
the Ruth of Franklin project with the Jumping Jack Flash
and the Child, then then Steve Jordan and I we

finished the Hale Hale Rock and Roll and by then
we have sort of you know, knocked well, you know,
we should do more, you know, and I had actually
to be dragged. Yeah, you did not have a solo
album at the time. I didn't have a solo I

mean you already had. They just were on a hiatus.
But I mean you were all you had a band.
It just happened to be the greatest rock and roll
band on earth exactly. You know. I thought, well, you know,
you only get one good band in the life if
you're lucky, you know. But you had you had music
inside that was fighting to come out. So you and
your friend went into a little studio here in Manhattan

and did a few things and then ended up going
uh with some other musicians. You actually found yourself putting
a band together and ended up in the Laurentians. Was
Steve and I looked at each other. They said, if
I'm going to do a front thing, if I'm going

to do a solo thing, who do we want to
work with? And Steve looked at me and had a
good chi I said what he walked out. I've been
dying to work with that man. I'd love to work
that man. Yeah, make a phone called body five minutes,
I mean, I said, you know, and the keyboards and

extra other talent, I want ivan Neville, I mean, and
it was a color a long story short. Within half
an hour we had the whiners mailed to Charlie Drayton,
Bobby Keys. Yeah, but you went up to the Lawentians,
which is it's a ski area in the wintertime in Quebec,

well north of Montreal, where there's not a lot to do. Well,
that's exactly the point. So but apparently that allowed all
of you to really bond because for me to make
a record, especially with a bunch of guys that have
never worked together before, it it wasn't exactly planned, but
it was the ideal because we're in a compound and

we're just there's no where to go much outside of Quebec.
And they said work and it turned out that we
all you know, and I say, this is where we
find out if guys get along, because that's the other
important thing. And the fact is at that point year

the wine, I started a bond to each other and
we've known each other off and on, but whether you
can live with each other is another thing. And it
was like saying, I love you, darling, but whether I'm
out of town and whether you become a real band
and Uh. And it was in that period that the
band really did become a band and found itself very

quickly as to be uh, a very enthusiastic unit. You know,
it was Steve and I starting to sort of run
out of material, but oh, we don't have a Steve
and I. But it was it was that great failing

of enthusiasm. Uh. Also it was giving me, uh myself
the sensation that this is like, you know, there's a
feeling of when the Stones were just starting. You know,
it was there's something in the air as well. It

was real collaboration because it was a real band. It's
it's a little different when a frontman does a solo
album because generally the producer then goes out and hires
a lot of very competent studio musicians, of which there
are many to choose from, and and different musicians on

different tracks, and the whole emphasis is to put the
spotlight on the front man. It's an entirely different thing
for the guitar guy to put a band together to
make an album. I know, I know, and you don't
think I don't know about that. Uh, I was in
I don't know if I can cover the band the

front man, you know, hey, I was yeah, I was,
you know, dodgy about it, but it turned out to
be a success. Yes, I know. I was celebrating and
the more I got into it, I said, hey, I
can do this, and we're celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of
its release. We sent me Yeah, and uh, I understand.

The first recording session when you guys got together, it
was like a thirteen hour marathon session just was just flowing. Yeah, yeah,
it was. I mean unless you've been part of the band,
and I mean lots of guys have been, you know
and everything, but when you feel something coalescing and and

coming together and that other guys they don't want to stop. Um,
you say, hey, you know this is this is the
the necessary fuel that you need. And then it's sort
of band needs to feel like they're doing something that
nobody else can do. You know. It was and I'm

I'm on the learning curve, you know, with the lead
singing all the time. I did appreciate after a tour
or so with the Whiners Mick Jagger's chop, a lot
more appreciation of what it takes to be there out there.

You don't have a moment off with the Stones. You see,
I can you know, I can put myself out in front,
I can retire back to the rhythm section, and you
have options. You know that as a front man, you
have no options. You know, it's you that's on. And
you know, I learned a lot about that doing it.

Enjoyed it immensely, and sometimes I failed miserably some shows.
My voice disappeared totally for a while, but at the
same hound we managed to sort of get through it.
And the Winos as a band, to me, it was
like a you know, this is not supposed to happen. Really,

I mean, you know, one great band in a lifetime
if you're lucky, you know. And and to realize that
you had a really, really great unit. There's these guys.
It's just NonStop, full of enthusiasm and let's go for it,
you know. And Keith Richards is here with us at

I Heeart Radio. You love working with other guitar players.
You mentioned Waddy Wachtell Uh and Uh in an interview
that I read. You said that you had a special
UH connection with him, similar to the one you have
with Roddy Wood. You know, yes, in a way, I
mean what he was one of those guitar players I've

been listening to and had heard his work with Warren
Zevon well and many other because he was a session man,
so sometimes you had to find out, you know, who's
playing guitar there. And I said, this cat I would
really love to play with. We met what he and
I We all sort of knew each other. I knew
I have pretty well through the Neville Brothers and the

leaders and stuff, you know, the New Orleans connection, you know,
and Steve knew with them. Charlie Drayton was already with Steve.
So I mean this suddenly, this embryo of incredible music.
I called Bobby Keys of course Burm He's in like
Flynn and and when we needed female vocalists for making

no mistake of Sarah dash And I realized that I've
put really together here is like the Krem Della Creme
people that I could work with that understood what was
going on. Yet they were they were all accomplished, successful
working musicians. But you were the international gazillionaire superstar. What

did did that cause any intimidation at all on the
part of the other musicians that left right outside the door.
As musicians, we all know is hey, something you know okay,
you know you're in a big band. You know Stones,
Stones are good because they're good. And I also knew
that these guys were also Stones fans, you know. I

mean it was well and why not, but it was
It was really not a matter of I just wanted
to pick really at the top of our heads. Steve
Jordan and I picked out without blinking at each other,
and guitar what he walked up? Keyboards I haven't never yeh.

We already have Charlie Drayton, you know. And the other
thing I have to point out about the Whitners that
they are all incredibly versatile. Except what do you mean
we just played guitar? I am, I do play bass,
but Ivant plays damn everything in the world, let alone

sing and write them. Um. Steve Jordan's is a great
bass player as well as drama, which is why we
could switch between Charlie Drayton and Steve. We could public
as Charlie Trayton is another one of the great dramas
of all time. Um, and I suddenly I find myself

a wash some of the great rhythm sections and that alone.
Then we bring in a certain tracks of Bootsy Collins,
Um Macio Parka and these guys. I mean, we didn't awesome,
They just seemed to turn up sessions as if as

some sort of magnet. Well, when you when you started
working on this project, which became Talk as Cheap, one
of the first tracks that you recorded became the album's
first single, take It So Hard, Which is it true?
You nailed that song in one take, one take, and
it includes another classic Keith Richard's riff, which is one

of the reasons why you're called like the human riff Machine,
one of the reasons another Actually there are reasons why
you have that nickname, but you come up with some
of the most classic, memorable UH rock and melodic riffs
that that is my forte I guess. I mean, I've

never thought about it, but most of it comes from
people have songs and they say it goes like this,
and I think and and I just happen to have
a knack for saying what you need here is a riff.
You just need something. It doesn't have to be that much,
it just has to it is has to pull everything together.

And I have some you have so many, though you
have so many. You have this ability to come up
with the great riffs. You have so many. What are
a few of your favorites? Oh? Man, you know, hey,
I love jumping jack flash. I've got to say satisfaction.
Although I didn't one that came to you in the
dream of course. Yeah you know. I mean, you know

you you can't claim credit but something you dream. But
I didn't notice I had tumbling diaces. You know. I
just have a feel for a song and saying that
it needs this one thing to run through it. And

I just, I mean, I have no idea where that
knack or you know, you can call it whatever you want.
Some people call it changes. I call it a knack,
and it's where I hear a lion that can stitch
a hole song together. Um, it depends on the drama. Luckily,

I've been blessed with the best drummers in the world,
you know, because you can't do what I do if
you're nervous about the rhythm section. And I've worked with
I've never had to worry about the drums, the timing.
I know that these cats now where it goes. And

and as usually I have to point out that, you know,
putting music into words. His pointless because otherwise you wouldn't
need music. Keith Richards his wea us here on iHeart Radio.
Talk Is Cheap. The box set comes out tomorrow. Well,
there are many many different versions of Talk Is Cheap

that will be released tomorrow, which, by the way, is
the same same day, tomorrow night as the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And I'm a little
bewildered myself. How much coming out now? I have before
me right now, the limited edition deluxe box set, which
is absolutely one of the most amazing sets I've ever seen.

And by the way, it weighs a ton. Brought it
over here on the subway. You have so much here.
You have U the remastered uh hundred and eighty Graham
vinyl album. You have Graham Vinyl album of bonus material.
There's a seven inch single Make No Mistake, and it

means a lot. Uh, there's a remastered c d H.
Then there's another CD containing bonus material, and there's an
eight page hardcover book, and then there's that means a lot.
There's lyric sheets, there's a laminate, there's a guitar pick,
there's there are posters. I mean, it's this is just
an amazing lets face a gym. This isn't a book set,

this is a treasure test and that isn't even the
super Deluxe and that comes in the wooden box. Can
you tell everybody about the super Deluxe? No, I mean
I didn't know. I'll tell you this. I didn't stop this. Uh.
It was other people, record company, another people around me
that this record should come out again. Well, because it's

a classic album, and it was a big risk that
you took. You were a lead singer. You you had
to step up, I know, but I had to do something.
And at the same as I went through it the
process of making the record, I realized that I could
write songs, because you've got to realize up until that point,

I wrote songs specifically for Mick Jaggards to see, and
I wrote within his range, within his concepts and abilities,
and I realized that I had other songs that were
right sometimes outside of his area. And that is what

I found out as I was doing this record, because
I really thought we were just going to cut a
few tracks and everybody's going to say, yeah, that's nice,
but you know it ain't gonna hold. But as Steve
and I developed our songwriting thing together. Um, yeah, you

know I need I needed a lot of encouragement and
poke up the back from you know, from a lot
of people to actually do this. But this is a
beautifully produced set. I'm sure it's the type of box
set that you would like to buy if you were

going to You should see the box box that now
that is manufactured by Fender, right absolutely, which is another
than other, really sort of strange thing, you know for me,
because I have news you know, I just love to
play in offenders that they would love. They've never made

a box in their life. They made guitar ask but
they bless their hearts. Would we love to make the
cover for this record? And uh and then of course
throwing the herring bone you know for the case and
so the super deluxe that that's number that's unbelievable. Things

in there that even I don't know. Now, Um, you've
released a couple of the bonus tracks. Yes, Um, Mick
Taylor joins you, and so he does. Can I ask
you a question? Has there ever been a time when
he's ever confided in you or anybody that you may

know that maybe that big solo career wasn't probably the
best idea. Let me put it this way. I asked
Mick Taylor, No, no, right ah, they leave man, and

really wishy answer was, I don't know. I don't know.
I just felt like I was. Keith Richards is with
us on iHeart Radio. We are celebrating the release of
Talk Is Cheap. It's the thirtieth anniversary edition. Uh. It

comes in UH in many many different variations. You can
get the vinyl LP, you can get the c D,
you can get deluxe set, the Luxe for deluxe. But
there's a lot of great music on here. Uh. And
if you didn't experience it thirty years ago, if maybe
you weren't even born yet thirty years ago, in a

real treat when you hear this incredible album, and the
No Frills tour is about to begin, and what the
night before the tour begins, there will be the release
of Honk, which the Rolling Stones project, which also is
a multie. I've become aware of that, and I understand
there's some live recordings on their featuring uh. Dave Grohl

is on one of them. Brad Paisley. Now there's another
guitar player. He's a great guitar player. Paisley. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yes, yes,
I had some fun with him. So that's coming up.
A Brad is a good country boy, and you're gonna
be uh and then you're gonna be on the road
and we know that you love that. I gotta say, Charlie, oss,

I don't believe the man. And he's sounding better than
ever and uh, which to me is like really yeah,
cool because we've got to go on the road and uh,
and I say, oh, the boys are already well oiled.
But I do like I I like long rehearsals. I

don't mind over rehearsing, if there is such a thing,
because what it means is that maybe you can get
some different material. Are the extra songs in rather than
just work in the show out, we can throw in
some other stuff, you know. I'd like, I'd like to
get some variation going, you know, mix a bit of

a conservative on on this. And I'm always trying to say,
come on, try this one on, you know, I mean,
try cry to me from you know, which is like, yeah,
you know, way back, and and I just well, that's
what makes the change things. So that's what makes it work.
But you, after all of these years seem to just

love walking out onto that stage in front of the audience.
You do joy on the stage. Hey, you should try
it on one? Is that's enough if you can do
it for sixty years, you know? And yeah, it becomes
a habit, it becomes any big comes to joy and

you realize it's what you do and it's what you
do the best. And you're turning other people on, you know.
I mean, I wouldn't go out there if there was
nobody to listen. Yeah, but in a way, you feel
like you're part of a movement, you know. I mean,

nobody's going to be the first one to get off
this bus, you know. I mean you've got a croak,
you know. And then, as we all know, that isn't
going to happen to you for a long, long, long,
So say you must love the memes that you see
online all the time. Tell us about the song my Baby.

My Baby was happened to have Johnny Johnson in the
studio with Joey Spampanado, who who had happened to be
the bass player on on the Hale Hell Rock and
Roll and a Beautiful Place from n R b q UM.
Spumpanado can never say enough words about him. Ah and

Mick Taylor happened to walk into the studio that night
and and I had Johnny Johnson there. I said, just
let's play some booze, and that's said Johnny loose, you know,
and I picked up on any song. My Baby was
one of the first ones we picked up on. You know.
I just wanted to record with Johnny Johnson because the

king of boogie, barrelhouse piano, but also that lovely tonch
of jazz and him that we all love. Keith Richards
says with us, we're celebrating the thirty anniversary release of

Talk Is Cheap, and it certainly is. Let's face it, Jim,
you must be so proud of this set. I know
that a great deal of care was put in production.
I had a chance to spend some time with your
archivist who spent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of compiling

all of this wonderful material for this album. We congratulate
you on its release and it's our pleasure to celebrate
it with you tonight here on I Heart Radio, and
of course we look forward to the tour and No
Frills Radio is available on the I Heart Radio app
and it is always always in honor to speak with you, sir,

and I can call you that without her majesty even
writing you. Pick up or download your copy of Keith
richards thirty anniversary edition of Talk Is Cheap wherever you
buy music. Check out the Rolling Stones No Filter Radio
channel on the I Heart Radio app. And thanks for

listening to this extended audio bonus of I Heart Radio
icons Keith Richards
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