Keith Richards dismisses The Beatles as a live band

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 19 July 2016
Keith Richards

Keith Richards

Keith Richards has dismissed The Beatles as a live band claiming they never nailed it on stage before they stopped playing concerts in 1966

Keith Richards doesn't think The Beatles were a great live band.

The 72-year-old guitarist appreciates the music of The Fab Four, the 60s rock rivals of his group The Rolling Stones, but doesn't think they ever nailed it on stage.

The Beatles - comprised of Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the late John Lennon and George Harrison - quit playing live at the height of 'Beatlemania' in 1966, citing the inability to be able to heart themselves play due to the screams of their female fans as the reason for them walking away from the stage.

In an interview with Radio Times magazine, he said: "Musically, The Beatles had a lovely sound and great songs. But the live thing? They were never quite there."

Keith has also opened up about his friendship with The Beatles but the hellraiser made the decision to exclude them from his inner circle after they started to practice transcendental meditation and spiritualism with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1967.

The 'Brown Sugar' rocker decided early on that he thought the Indian guru was a "f***ing operator" and thinks the four guys latched onto him as a way of trying to cope with their global fame.

Speaking about the Maharishi, Keith said: "He was a f***ing operator, a sucker job. But you have to think, what had being The Beatles done to The Beatles? They wanted somebody else to take them away. They didn't want to be God any more, so they plugged it all onto the Maharishi."

Keith is the star of a new BBC Two documentary, 'Keith Richards: The Origin Of The Species', which will be aired on 9pm on Saturday (23.07.16).

The programme explores Keith's childhood growing up in post-World War II Kent and has been directed by Julien Temple whose previous work includes 1950s drama 'Absolute Beginners' - which starred the late David Bowie - and The Sex Pistols film 'The Great Rock & Roll Swindle'.

This is not the first time Keith has taken a swipe at The Beatles.

He previously dismissed their acclaimed 1967 album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' as "a load of s**t"

He said: "Some people think it's a genius album, but I think it's a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like, 'Oh, if you can make a load of s**t, so can we.'

"The Beatles sounded great when they were The Beatles. But there's not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you're The Beatles in the '60s, you just get carried away - you forget what it is you wanted to do."


1. Bob Crowley19 Jul 2016, 2:34pm Report

Keith may have missed The Ed Sullivan show which the Stones had a passable appearance vs The Beatles' gigantic response.

2. Charles F. Browne19 Jul 2016, 3:48pm Report

Keith is partly correct: the fabs never developed as a live act beyond their early days because the business model demanded it. That said, they were easily the greatest live rock act of that early period through 1962 both at home and Germany in particular, as John Lennon stated in Rolling Stone's "Lennon Remembers" interview: "We were just a band who made it very very big, that’s all. Our best work was never recorded. Why? Because we were performers … in Liverpool, Hamburg, other dance halls and what we generated was fantastic, where we played straight rock, and there was no-one to touch us in Britain. As soon as we made it, we made it, but the edges were knocked off. Brian put us in suits and all that and we made it very, very big. But we sold out, you know. The music was dead before we even went on the first theatre tour of Britain. We were feeling shit already because we had to reduce an hour or two hours’ playing to twenty minutes and… repeat the same twenty minutes every night. We killed ourselves then to make it . . ."

3. John Tate19 Jul 2016, 4:10pm Report

He was recently trashing Sgt. Pepper and now their live shows. Jealous a bit? Anyway, the Beatles have always said they could hardly ever hear each other while playing live due to the audience screams. I think Richards may be forgetting just what the Stones shows were like pre-1967, too. All the concerts back then were short little things and probably never had soundchecks or warmups. Amps were nowhere near as powerful as today. Onstage monitor systems? Ha! It was very different than what came a few years later.

4. John Tate19 Jul 2016, 4:26pm Report

Bob Crowley, there's an interesting story (Ringo interview) about the first Sullivan show. George was ill and couldn't attend the afternoon session when the producers had them play to set mixing levels, etc. At the time, the show's crew would just put little chalk marks on the soundboard for each volume level. When they came back from dinner the cleaning crew had wiped them all off. I'd bet it was a crazy rush to try to adjust everything as they went live. There are apparently recordings of the rehearsal and broadcast and the later has levels being frantically adjusted. Still history shows it went over quite well with America.

It's rather interesting that the Stones had to rely on the Beatles for their second single, too. The whole first Stones album only had one original song on it.

5. Hanno the Phoenician19 Jul 2016, 5:16pm Report

While I liked the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards envy must be long standing. The Beatles outshined and outperformed the Stones for nearly half a century. That's a pretty long time to be bitter.

This was quite a pathetic whine on his part.

6. Hanno the Phoenician19 Jul 2016, 5:17pm Report

While I liked the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards envy must be long standing. The Beatles outshined and outperformed the Stones for nearly half a century. That's a pretty long time to be bitter.

7. Buffalo Barnes19 Jul 2016, 5:57pm Report

The Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show literally changed the world. Apples and oranges, Keith, apples and oranges.

8. Cnn Sucks19 Jul 2016, 7:12pm Report

Someone is jelly. There are plenty of great live Beatle performances. STFU you shriveled up old coot.

9. Diamond Dick19 Jul 2016, 10:41pm Report

Obviously, opinions differ.....

10. Ehud Avni20 Jul 2016, 12:16am Report

Keith is looking at it from the eyes of someone who has decades of live experience, & not from his 1966 eyes. I doubt he'd say what he said with the little experience he had in 1966.

11. Danniel Amyx20 Jul 2016, 12:26am Report

Then again, the stones didn't have ear shattering decibels coming from millions of young girls either....

12. Surrealisto20 Jul 2016, 4:52am Report

No they just overdubbed in fake ones ("Got Live If You Want It").

13. yesterdays wine19 Jul 2016, 11:05pm Report

I don't like hearing this claptrap from Keith. It abases him and it really adds nothing illuminating to the story of the music of the era. The Beatles could and did do it all. Calling Sgt Pepper's a "load of shit" is code for, "We tried to copy them but couldn't, so it must be lousy." As for live performances... try their farewell on the rooftop. Don't Let Me Down is as good as live gets. Roots? Hahaha, Keith. John IS roots. He utterly transforms the Blues on this: As to general good hard rocking... "Revolution," "Helter Skelter," And "I Saw Her Standing There," settle the argument and there are twenty others. They followed their star and heir audience loved the ride.

14. John West20 Jul 2016, 4:33pm Report

The Beatles were a damn fine live band. People who witnessed their pre-fame gigs in Germany said they were electrifying to hear. I have a few live recordings of them during the Beatlemania period and they sounded great despite all the screaming from the fans. Touch of sour grapes Keith????

15. Jak Benny21 Jul 2016, 2:22am Report

Keith has no room to talk. I was in Cleveland, Ohio in 1978 for a stones concert. After being over three hours late taking the stage, the Stones laid one hell of a big stinker. They sucked is being kind. You could tell Keith was all fucked up which explains the late start. He could barely stand up, was flipping off the crowd who was all over him. I was three rows from the stage, it was obvious the band didn't care.

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