“Don’t talk to each other too much,” Sir Mick, 80, told fans and celebrities after being asked how they had managed to maintain their “marriage”.
The singer and the guitarist, joined by Ronnie Wood, 76, took over the Hackney Empire theatre in East London – only slightly more venerable than the Stones themselves – to launch album Hackney Diamonds. Due out next month, it is their first LP featuring new material since 2005.
The rock legends also revealed how late drummer Charlie Watts named his successor before he died. They told how Charlie anointed American drummer Steve Jordan, inset right, as the respected musician who should carry on the Stones’ legacy, before his death from cancer aged 80 in 2021.
Keith, 79, has long played with Jordan, a relative baby aged just 66, in his solo music, and told an invited audience: “It’s ever so sad without Charlie. Of course he’s missed, incredibly so. But Steve was Charlie’s recommendation to play drums if anything should happen to him from way, way back.
“It would have been a lot harder without Charlie’s blessing on that.”
The location for the album launch was officially secret, but had been widely circulated among devotees.
It meant there were hundreds of fans pleading to get in, with scenes of hysteria reminiscent of the Stones’ 1960s heyday.
Charlie played drums on two songs on Hackney Diamonds, in tracks recorded in 2019. One of those, Live By The Sword, also features original bassist Bill Wyman, marking his return to the studio with the Stones for the first time since he left in 1993. Other confirmed guests include Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder, while Paul McCartney and Elton John are also rumoured to feature. It’s the Stones’ 24th album, but their first since A Bigger Bang, released 18 years to the day before the press conference.
Despite the long wait for new music, Mick, Keith and Ronnie insisted the recording was quick once they decided to make a new album. Other than the two songs starring Charlie, the album was started last Christmas and finished in February.
Asked about the delay by press conference host, US presenter Jimmy Fallon, Mick joked: “We’re lazy b******s”, before pointing out that constant touring had made it hard to find time to return to the studio. The trio were in a jokey mood throughout the 30-minute launch.
When Mick stated that Lady Gaga duet Sweet Sound Of Heaven was influenced by gospel music, Keith retorted: “You’ve never been to church in your life.”
With their combined lifespan, even a band as invincible as the Rolling Stones surely can’t wait another 18 years before releasing another album.
But Ronnie revealed their studio sessions had resulted in 23 new songs. With Hackney Diamonds featuring 12 songs, it means a second new album’s worth of songs is already recorded.
The title of Hackney Diamonds refers to local slang for the glass left behind when a car windscreen is smashed in a robbery.
Keith explained: “We were looking at titles like Smash And Grab and Break And Enter, before we hit on Hackney Diamonds.”
Mick added: “It’s also good because we’re a London band.”
The announcement was made with mischief typical for the band behind Brown Sugar and Sympathy For The Devil. An advert was placed in local paper the Hackney Gazette last month for supposed new glass repair firm Hackney Diamonds – which featured the Stones’ classic tongue logo and references to several of their hits.
- Ahead of the album, new single Angry is available to stream now.