Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos have essentially been dormant for the past three decades, but they briefly came back to life earlier this month to perform three songs at the Love Rocks benefit in New York City. Richards has been on the interview circuit promoting the re-release of the group’s 1992 LP Main Offender, and he explained to Rolling Stone‘s Brian Hiatt that his solo career started after Mick Jagger decided to make his own music outside of the Stones.
“I was offended to have to make solo records at the time, because it had never been on my schedule to sort of go solo,” he said. “But in retrospect, I realized that the Rolling Stones were in their own bubble and there was bound to become a point where we would have to stretch our wings in one way or another. And this was my way, and I enjoyed it immensely.”
Richards and the Winos toured in 1988 behind Talk Is Cheap and again in 1992–93 in support of Main Offender. They stuck largely to Winos originals and Stones songs that originally featured Richards on lead vocals like “Happy,” and “Connection,” along with a few covers the Stones made famous like “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Time Is on My Side.”
Just about the only Stones original they did that Jagger originally sang was “Gimme Shelter.” “Listening to it back, I’d even forgotten that we’d laid that one down with the Winos,” Richards told Rolling Stone. “And in a way, it reminded me of the day that I wrote it, which was like a rainy day in London, in Mount Street. There was a big storm on and everybody was running for cover, and it really just came out of that simple vision. And then I realized, of course, you know, then you have to expand it. And I realized that there’s only one storm, but there’s plenty more.”
Here’s video of Richards and the Winos playing the song at a 1992 show in New York City. They’re joined by longtime Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys, and background singers Sarah Dash and Babi Floyd.
The two Winos tours were relatively short affairs. Fans have been dreaming of another one for the past three decades, but the group only occasionally surfaces for quick sets at charity shows. Richards, meanwhile, is gearing up for a 60th-anniversary tour with the Stones that begins on June 1 in Madrid, Spain.
“Who can wrap their head around 60 fucking years?” Richards asked Rolling Stone. “It all seems impossible that it’s been that long. But, yes, the feeling is that we have to do something this year. And, you know, when that feeling grips this band, something will be done.”