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50 and counting for Rolling Stones

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 12:17 am •  Published: November 13, 2012
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The band's periodic sabbaticals sometimes stretch so long that Rolling Stones fans can't help but wonder whether it's all over now. The most recent time out lasted five years. If anyone threatened to make it permanent it was Richards, always the most protective and romantic about the band, because of his best-selling autobiography that took some shots at his songwriting partner Jagger. Richards dismissed the idea that it created a barrier.

"Anybody who thinks that doesn't know the band," he said. "This band's sense of humor is basically built upon insulting each other. I'm not saying there wasn't an issue here and there, but it's really water off a duck's back ... You cannot offend a really good friend. I happened to put it in print and everybody else was saying, 'Oh, my God.' I thought it was fairly mild."

(Said Jagger: "I don't want to talk about Keith's book.")

Wood is often the diplomat if things get rough between Jagger and Richards.

"I still feel that necessary sometimes," he said. "They're getting along so much better than I don't have to be the referee or the adjudicator."

Wood said he's pleased with how the band has shaken off the rust. As Richards' fellow guitarist, he sees his role as keeping the band tight, and said the Stones have a greater economy in their playing than they used to, getting to the essence of the songs.

"You give Mick a song and have a good beat to it, he can entertain anyone," Watts said. "He's the best in the world at it. Now that Michael Jackson's dead and James Brown is gone, he's the best in the world."

Jagger was a driving force as co-producer of "Crossfire Hurricane." The film focuses on the rise and classic years of the Rolling Stones, back when their shows were considered dangerous and not an institution that you'd take the whole family to see.

Footage shows concerts cut short when enthusiastic fans rushed the stage and made it impossible to play. "We were playing pop songs to 10-year-olds," Jagger said. "It was very weird. You get used to it in 10 minutes, it's not that difficult. It's much easier to play three pop songs to teenagers than two hours of blues music to connoisseurs."

The film contains interviews from all Stones, including former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor. None are seen as they are today; Jagger wanted to keep the emphasis on the era and not go back and forth between the past and present.

For his part, Richard said he barely remembers the cameraman being there for all the backstage scenes. "I'm crashed out in the dressing room with some babe with me," he said.

From the looks of things, he's fortunate to remember anything. The thin, dissolute rocker has given way to a character that children often point to on the streets, recognizing him as Captain Teague, father of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

The parents will tell them: "Oh yeah, he's also in the Stones," Richards said, laughing.