The classic songwriter Keith Richards called “too contrived”

Keith Richards, known for his unfiltered expression of opinions, has never hesitated to share his sentiments openly. As the outspoken guitarist steering the ship of the rock juggernaut, The Rolling Stones, alongside Mick Jagger, Richards’ musical judgments carry considerable weight. In the 1980s, a classic artist found himself in the crossfire of the Dartford axeman’s critiques.

By the 1980s, The Rolling Stones had morphed into the very rock establishment they once sought to dismantle in their rebellious early days. No longer the youthful misfits giving voice to the 1960s rebellion, the group had become multi-millionaires reveling in excess and performing for adoring fans worldwide.

The Stones’ transformation from rebellious misfits to towering figures of rock was a source of disappointment for many. Jeffrey Lewis captured the sentiment succinctly, stating, “The Stones in ’65 want total satisfaction, kid, but The Stones in ’69 see grace in just getting what you need, and if that’s a victory, then I’d hate to see what I’d look like defeated.”

Being hailed as rock music elders in the 1980s, the band members often found themselves asked to opine on current music trends. This journalistic trope gave older, more prominent musicians a platform to either boost or criticize emerging artists. The Stones, known for their candor, frequently chose the latter.

Richards, in particular, didn’t hold back, targeting everyone from Duran Duran to the entire genre of rap and hip-hop. His interviews were laced with comparisons, often drawing parallels to The Rolling Stones. In a notable 1988 interview, Richards took a swipe at the long-established and beloved artist Bruce Springsteen, deeming him “too contrived.”

Surprisingly, despite their shared appreciation for blues rock, Richards criticized Springsteen, while bandmate Mick Jagger had previously expressed a positive opinion. Jagger had mentioned enjoying Springsteen’s performance, but Richards, in his characteristic style, countered, “I like the guy… I love his attitude. I love what he wants to do. I just think he’s gone about it the wrong way,” ultimately labeling the ‘Born to Run’ singer as “too contrived” and “too overblown.”

Interestingly, despite his critical stance, Richards has shared the stage with Springsteen several times, reportedly enjoying an amicable relationship. However, even in his memoir “Life,” Richards couldn’t resist another jab, asserting, “If there was anything better around, he’d still be working the bars of New Jersey.”

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