The Reason Keith Richards hates heavy metal music

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Keith Richards has frequently expressed his thoughts on the things in life he likes and despises. The human riff-machine of the Rolling Stones has never shied away from verbal fights, occasionally even going after his own comrades.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Keith Richards struggled to identify himself with the birth of heavy metal as he is an unapologetic son of the blues who enjoys reggae and couldn’t care less about the majority of other genres. He grew up idolizing musicians like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, with the world of metal being an entirely alien concept to the guitarist.

The genre didn’t even exist when The Rolling Stones first appeared; it wasn’t until Black Sabbath’s founding in 1970 that it started to explore new and sinister musical horizons. Richards has never concealed his dislike of the genre, and even before it developed into a thriving subculture, Richards was never convinced it was a good idea.

He had expressed his thoughts on Led Zeppelin to Rolling Stone in 1969, and nothing has changed since then. “The guy’s voice started to get on my nerves. I don’t know why; maybe he’s a little too acrobatic.”

He repeated his strict position in 2015 by saying: “I love Jimmy Page, but as a band, no, with John Bonham thundering down the highway in an uncontrolled 18-wheeler. He had cornered the market there. Jimmy is a brilliant player. But I always felt there was something a little hollow about it, you know?”

Richards’ viewpoint on heavy metal as a whole is even more caustic, even if Led Zeppelin are undoubtedly more of a hard rock band than a heavy metal band. In 2015, he spoke to the New York Daily News, “It sounds like a dull thud to me, For most bands, getting the syncopation is beyond them. It’s endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift, no syncopation.”

He then prepared for his most brutal punch by pointing out the two largest players on the stage and said, “Millions are in love with Metallica and Black Sabbath. I just thought they were great jokes.”

Richards generously shared his concept of heavy metal with the public in 2010, saying, “If you want heavy metal, listen to John Lee Hooker, listen to that moth******  play. That’s heavy metal. That’s armour.” The aforementioned sentence best captures Richards’ perspective on music. He is so intoxicatedly infatuated with rhythm and blues that he finds it impossible to understand why someone would choose to listen to Black Sabbath over John Lee Hooker.

He views music as objective rather than subjective, and he has never been particularly interested in metal. For Richards, it’s about having a sense that music can feed his soul, which is in contrast to the energy he gets from bands like Metallica, who are the complete opposite of what he searches for in music.

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