Personalities | The Rolling Stones (1989) | Key Events
Keith And Mick Meet In Barbados
Missing in action for almost three years, the Stones’ future was uncertain. The new wave of rock groups like Guns N’ Roses had built themselves on the Stones’ template, but the forefathers were nowhere to be seen. In mid-January, Keith flew out to Mick in Barbados to discuss the future of the band and the possibility of writing songs again. Allegedly, he told his wife that he’d be home in either two days or two weeks. When she’d not heard from him after a few days, Patti called him to ask, ‘Two weeks, then?’ ‘Happily, yes,’ Keith replied, having been working on new songs with Mick almost since they met.
Inducted To Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Six days after reconvening with Mick, the pair arrived in New York on 18 January to be inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by Pete Townshend. It was their first public appearance together since 1986, though the group didn’t play. Bill refused to attend, saying that the honours were too little too late, and even Mick and Keith were slightly worried that the recognition would pigeonhole them as 1960s has-beens. When presenting the award, Townshend encouraged, ‘Whatever you do, don’t try to grow old gracefully. It wouldn’t suit you.’
After a secret registrar church wedding on 2 June (which further suggested that Bill’s interests were not with the band), three days later Bill invited everyone else (who begrudgingly attended) to a church wedding between his 53-year-old self and the now 19-year-old Mandy Smith – the girl he’d been having an affair with since she was 13. That same month he opened a rock memorabilia burger restaurant, Sticky Fingers, without his bandmates’ permission – something which added to the Stones’ general annoyance with Wyman, and resulted in more severing of ties.
Recounting the will-they-won’t-they feeling behind the group’s keeping together, ‘Mixed Emotions’ was one of the earliest songs Jagger and Richards worked on in Barbados, and reflected the resentment and bitterness that bubbled under the surface during recordings for the new album. Only reaching No. 36 in the UK charts, it fared better in the States, rising to No. 5.
Mick and Keith having buried the hatchet, Steel Wheels at least kept the band on the rails, and was the awkward commercial comeback the Stones needed, reaching No. 1 in America and No. 2 in the UK. Bridging the two songwriting camps (Ron and Keith’s more emotion-led playing; Mick’s more aesthetically angled songs) was Charlie, who drove the band along and settled any disagreements that could lead to argument – though working so fast, the group didn’t have much time to fall out. It was an attempt to return to a true Stones rock basis, and would also be Bill Wyman’s last studio album with the group.
Steel Wheels Tour Starts
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