The Rolling Stones don’t exactly need the formula to be rock legends, do they? Well, apparently, they still have one just in case. The music industry, although we love it, is ultimately a fickle thing. Sometimes, the difference between legend status and those forgotten to history is timing, or even just being in the right place when that sense of timing is required.
However, apparently, Keith Richards has an idea of what the formula is that made The Rolling Stones the rock legends they are. Mostly because he gets asked about it a lot. He said in an interview regarding this, “Yeah, I’m always asked for the formula. The thing is, somehow I think The Rolling Stones know the secret, but not one member, one single member. So nobody can give the formula away.”
The legendary guitarist continued: “I don’t know, it’s just a magical thing that happens between the guys and a lot of this is just experience and knowing each other so well. But the rest of it is basically the same band as we wanted as we kicked off. So we are always improving. The ultimate Stones will probably never exist but we are working towards.”
This goes along with the way a lot of people think about bands like this—it isn’t just one member that holds the secret. It’s everyone working together to create the magic. He went so far as to comment about this specifically as it pertains to himself and Mick Jagger.
About this, he continued, “The secret is that neither of us knows what we are gonna do, so we put ourselves together and then it just see what happens. It’s one of those things that the Stones collectively… it’s one of those chemical things. But the fact is, when we come up together we come up with something else, anyway.”
Ultimately, if there really was an actionable formula for being a rock legend, there wouldn’t be anything special about it. The formula isn’t so much a scientific set of directions or an equation. It’s more like a recipe: sure, you know what’s in it, but there will always be an art to it no matter how you break things down. Engaging with that collaborative music spirit is just a part of that magic.
People try to capture that lightning in a bottle all the time, and it’s really a matter of a lot of things. Even so, hearing a legend (or, excuse me, one of a group of legends) like Keith Richards dive into his process is intriguing nonetheless.