LONDON — Their relationship has long been fraught with bitter clashes and brutal insults.
But after decades of feuding, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are currently enjoying a fragile peace and as such, the latter will do anything to maintain the equilibrium.
That includes, it has emerged, using a motorised ashtray that sucks in cigarette smoke to avoid upsetting the health conscious Jagger, 76.
The circular device was spotted backstage on the band’s No Filter tour that is due to conclude, after two years of touring Europe, Canada and the U.S. this weekend.
The unlikely rock and roll device is being used in the shared backstage area, allowing Richards, 75, to puff away without fear of recrimination. Its antique feel is belied by a silver metal interior that absorbs the smoke, Richards proudly explained. He revealed that he purchased it so as “not to bother Mick”.
“Smokeless” ashtrays can be carbon filtered or ionic. Some require batteries whilst others use USB cables or extension cords. Carbon filtered ashtrays use internal fans to suck air from cigarettes then cleanse it with an internal filter.
The ionic version, which is more expensive, generates negative ions that stick to smoke particles, which in turn attach to the positive ions inside the unit, preventing the smell from escaping.
The notoriously hard-living Richards is supposedly enjoying a period of relative sobriety. Last year, he revealed that coffee and cigarettes were his only vices, having not touched alcohol for two months.
“Drugs are not interesting these days,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “They are very institutionalized and bland. And, anyway, I’ve done ’em all.” When the Stones’ tour arrived in London a few months later, Richards was apparently less bothered about Jagger’s lungs. He was cheered by 70,000-strong crowd at the London Stadium in Stratford as he lit up on stage, flouting a strict no smoking rule.
The local council was forced to confirm it would not be taking any action because smoking was part of the act.
In February, he admitted that he was trying to give up cigarettes too but was finding it tough. “Quitting heroin is like hell, but it’s a short hell,” he told Mojo magazine. “Cigarettes are just always there, and you’ve always done it, I just pick ’em up and light ’em up without thinking about it.”
He said he was also trying to give up alcohol, adding: “I have a little wine with meals, and a beer or two, but otherwise… Mind you, if you say, ‘Do you want a drink?’ I wouldn’t turn it down. I’m not a puritan.”
Sources agreed that he had “moderated” his lifestyle, but added: “There’s giving up, and there’s giving up.”
Jagger, by contrast, has been something of a health freak for much of his later life, enjoying superjuice smoothies for breakfast and taking daily vitamins. It has been reported that even in his 70s, his physical regime involves running eight miles a day, cycling, yoga, kickboxing, meditation and ballet.
Richards recently praised Jagger’s approach to fitness but mischievously added: “I worry about his joints from all that jogging, man. But he gets along all right.”
Keith & Mick’s years of discord
1985 —Jagger released his first solo album and refused to tour with the Stones. Richards called the ensuing years “World War Three”.
2003 — Richards was furious when Jagger accepted a knighthood, 35 years after they were both arrested for taking drugs. Jagger was joining “the establishment that did their very best to throw us in jail and kill us”, he said.
2010 — Richards’ memoir, Life, said Jagger and his “swollen head” became “unbearable” in the Eighties. He said he had not been in Jagger’s dressing room for 20 years.
2018 — After Jagger fathers an eighth child, Richards calls him a “randy old b––”, suggests “the snip” and says: “You can’t be a father at that age. Those poor kids.” He later apologizes.