“When the other guys took a break, Keith just kept on practising”: Mike Campbell on rehearsing with the Rolling Stones

“They were having fun, they were like kids in a toy shop.”

Mike Campbell (left) and Keith Richards (right). Mike is playing a Gibson SG, with Keith playing a Telecaster. Both are on stage and are looking down at their instruments.

Images: (Left) C Flanigan and (right) Samir Hussein / Getty

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Mike Campbell, guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, has shared what it was like rehearsing alongside The Rolling Stones at SIR Studios.

In particular, Campbell singles out Stones guitar-player Keith Richards – who turns 80 next week (18 December) – as someone he had always “admired from afar,” noting that when other band members took a break, he would continue to play.

In the latest print issue of Uncut magazine, a plethora of music industry figures have come forward with stories of admiration for Richards. In his contribution, Campbell recalls his memories of watching the band dynamic between the Stones, especially between Richards and frontman Mick Jagger.

“Around the time of Emotional Rescue, the Heartbreakers were in New York and Tom [Petty] and I got to rehearse with the Stones at SIR Studios. I’d admired Keith from afar my whole life. It was interesting, because when the other guys took a break, Keith just kept on practising,” he says.

“I think he was trying to loosen up the rust. It was enlightening to see them in a raw setting like that. While we were rehearsing, Mick came over to me and Tom: ‘Y’know, they don’t like it when I play the guitar. But I only do it to get the tempos right, because they always play everything too fast and I can’t get the words in.’

“Sure enough, he picks up the guitar and they start a song,” he continues. “Keith immediately walks up, puts his hand up in front of Mick’s face and goes: ‘Oh no, you can’t lead your platoon that way! Lead vocals, lead vocals!’”

He goes on to add, “So Mick puts the guitar down, they start the song way too fast and he just looks at us with his hands up, as if to say, ‘See what I mean?’ But they were having fun, they were like kids in a toy shop.”

The Rolling Stones’ latest album, Hackney Diamonds, is out now. They are also due to tour in 2024, with the full list of live dates shown on their official website.


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