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“We’re all about teamwork”: Keith Richards explains why Jeff Beck never joined the Rolling Stones

“We felt that Jeff had his own furrow to plow and that he was not a team man.”

Jeff Beck and Keith Richards

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and Jeff Beck. Credit: Brian Rasic/Getty

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Keith Richards has addressed the long-standing rumours that Jeff Beck was once lined up to join The Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor quit in 1974.

Taylor himself replaced founding multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones in 1969 and departed after the Stones released It’s Only Rock N’Roll.

The Stones began auditioning potential replacements, one of which was Beck, but after a trip to Rotterdam and an ill-fated audition, the band decided Beck wouldn’t be the best fit for them and he remained a soloist.

Speaking in a new interview with Guitar Player to promote the band’s new album Hackney Diamonds, which arrives tomorrow, 20 October, Richards is asked if there is any truth to the rumours about Beck potentially joining the Stones.

“We felt that Jeff had his own furrow to plow and that he was not a team man,” Richards says. “He was a soloist to the max. He was such an individualist. It wouldn’t have worked with the Stones at all. We’re all about teamwork.”

He is keen to stress, however, how much he admired Beck’s talent. “But don’t get me wrong, he was a tremendous player. The odd times we got together, I was always amazed by the stuff that he did with his tremolo bar. He was one of the best, man, and he’s going to be missed.”

Beck himself spoke about his audition for the band in 2012 and recalled that, after spending the day together, they realised they were on completely different paths.

“Eventually, we got into the same room together and I started playing Bill Wyman’s bass so hard the dust was flying off,” Beck told Ultimate Classic Rock. “I wandered off and the engineer, Glyn Johns, said, ‘That’s incredible!’ I said, ‘One for the archives, mate. I’m leaving tomorrow.’

“Some people might find it hard to believe that you’d walk away from the Stones gig,” he said, “but Keith and I wouldn’t have gone through an album without punching each other out anyway.”

Beck later told BBC 6 Music (via Far Out) that he “would have loved to have been a Rolling Stone but that “the thought would have been better than the act, I think” and he probably wouldn’t have lasted long in the band.

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