The Time Mick Jagger Almost Gave Up On The Rolling Stones

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Although being a successful rock star seems like a dream from afar, it is also filled with challenges. Substance addiction is one of the most widespread conditions in the rock and metal scenes, and the underlying reasons are often cited as the absence of personal life, social and professional pressure, physical and mental exhaustion due to their busy schedule.

While many claim that being a solo musician is easier than being in a band, others say that the second ensures receiving emotional support from people who experience similar struggles. Some bands have stuck together throughout the years despite their challenging lifestyles, such as Def Leppard, U2, Depeche Mode, and the Rolling Stones, but most of them have disbanded, at least temporarily.

The Rolling Stones is often cited as one of the most successful and prominent figures in the rock scene, and they are also praised for staying together for almost six decades. This seems even more surprising when considering the past tensions between lead vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. Today we’re going to unravel what almost ended the Stones’ career and what convinced them to stay together.

Why Did Keith Richards And Mick Jagger Hate Each Other In The ’80s?

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Keith Richards and Mick Jagger‘s friendship dates back to their high school years. The duo met in the ’50s as they were classmates, but it took them a decade to realize their shared interest; rock music. Their jamming sessions turned into rehearsals, and long story short, the Rolling Stones were formed in 1962.

Fans and music critics often claim that what brought the Rolling Stones members to the point of hating each other was their busy schedule since the band has toured nonstop ever since their formation, except between 1982-1989. During those years, the rift between Jagger and Richards had grown significantly.

Richards was upset that Jagger had signed a solo deal and concentrated on his solo work for much of 1984. At the same time, Charlie Watts was battling his heroin addiction, and Ronnie Wood was pursuing his solo career while collaborating with great names such as Prince, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie.

While everyone seemed to be going their way, Keith Richards was bitter about the Rolling Stones members’ disinterest in the band. The Stones released ‘Dirty Work’ in 1986, but it was mainly created by Richards and Wood. By ’87, Mick Jagger was refusing to do a Stones tour to promote their latest album and had scheduled solo tour dates. Also, his words on Stones’ possible disbandment signaled the band’s end.

Mick Jagger’s words on rock bands’ disbandment in 1987:

“It’s very funny No one while you’re around and in no danger of extinction, everyone’s ready to kick you and say, ‘Well, why don’t you break up? Your band is really pointless, just doing the same thing over and over and over, so why don’t you just f*ck off and die?’ And then when you are in danger of extinction, they all go, ‘What’s the matter, man? You should reform, man. I mean, it’s the Rolling Stones, maaan.’ They don’t give a shit about what you feel and what you have to go through to preserve this monstrous image intact.

It’s ridiculous. No one should care if the Rolling Stones have broken up, should they? I mean, when the Beatles broke up, I couldn’t give a shit. I thought it was a very good idea. […] But with me, people seem to demand that I keep their youthful memories intact in a glass case specifically preserved for them and damn the sacrifices I have to make. […] Why should I live in the past just for their petty satisfaction.”

His disinterest and ironic way of discussing the Rolling Stones’ disbandment deeply surprised the band’s fans and many resembled his attitude to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s before the Beatles broke up. Keith Richards also decided to embark on a solo career and released his debut record ‘Talk Is Cheap’ in 1988, which was certified Gold in the United States. These events almost brought the Stones’ end.

What Brought The Rolling Stones Back Together

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In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Ronnie Wood, Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, and Ian Stewart posthumously, were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This and the lower success rate of their solo careers, compared to their career as a band, seem to have convinced the band members to get back together.

Furthermore, Jagger and Richards decided to put their differences aside and concentrate on what had brought them together in the first place; their love for music. The band members got in the studio and recorded ‘Steel Wheels,’ which was a great success as it reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom and No. 3 in the United States. The singles ‘Mixed Emotions,’ ‘Rock and a Hard Place,’ and ‘Almost Hear You Sigh’ were highly appreciated by fans.

The promotion tour marked the band’s first world tour after seven years and became their biggest stage production, featuring opening acts like Guns N’ Roses. Hence, ‘Steel Wheels’ marked the return of the Rolling Stones and probably proved to the band members that the Stones were too valuable to leave behind. Although the members continued pursuing their solo careers from then on, it seems like they always prioritized the Stones.