Displaying the kind of subtle linguistic wit for which he’s known, Keith Richards decided it was high time to go on record with a few thoughts about the output of The Beatles, a ’60s band Paul McCartney was in before Wings. In a new interview with Esquire, the Rolling Stones guitarist offers up the verbal equivalent of falling out of a tree, calling the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—long considered one of the best albums of all time—a steaming pile of garbage.
“Some people think it’s a genius album,” Richards said, probably while being irascible and charming in a way that drives Mick Jagger absolutely insane. “But I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish.” His point (such as one can be made out) seems to be the band got carried away by the insanity of the time, and the music suffered as a result. “If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away. The Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there’s not a lot of roots in that music.” Indeed, there are not a lot of roots in the music, if you mean the blues stuff the Stones were borrowing from, and not the eclectic mix of Eastern, classical, and folk influences that are all over Sgt. Pepper’s.
Then again, it’s hard to take Richards too seriously here, as he immediately turns on his own band, as well. He compares The Beatles’ “mishmash of rubbish” with the album the Stones put out just six months later (Their Satanic Majesties Request), saying it was “kind of like Satanic Majesties—‘Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we’.” On that point, no doubt, he will find many Beatles fans in full agreement with him. We now await the gentle and thoughtful response of the internet to Richards’ claim.