When Waddy Wachtel Had to Tell Mick Jagger He Was Doing It Wrong
The seasoned guitarist had previously worked on Keith Richards’ 1988 solo album Talk is Cheap, which is how he became connected with the Stones. During a phase of development on Bridges to Babylon in L.A., Richards invited him to join the sessions.
“It’s strange to find yourself in the studio with the Stones, that’s for sure,” Wachtel later told Music Radar, adding that he arrived before Ron Wood was scheduled to fly in. “Keith wanted somebody to play off of him. It was great; every night was a shared musical experience. I kept being invited back.
“They had every room at Ocean Way booked; there was something happening all the time. Tracking, editing, mixing – every room had some kind of activity,” Wachtel said. “We’d get there at 7 at night and wouldn’t leave till 5 or 7 the next morning. It went on for a month and a half. So many great sessions went down” – despite the fact that this album was being made during a period in which Richards and Mick Jagger were barely on speaking terms.
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One of the moments Wachtel remembers best is when producer Don Was asked him to play on the single “Anybody Seen My Baby?” “I said, ‘Really?’ And [Was] said, ‘Yeah, it’s Mick’s tune, and Keith doesn’t want to play on it – but if you play on it, I know he will.’ So I said, ‘OK,” Wachtel said.
During playback, “I’m listening to it with Mick and Don, and every time this one spot came up, something sounded wrong to me. Mick went out, and I looked at Don and said, ‘Somebody is playing something wrong in this spot. Listen,’” Wachtel said. “So we started isolating the parts, and it came down to Mick was the one who was playing it wrong. Don was like, ‘Waddy, you gotta tell him.’ I said, ‘Me? I’m not producing this!’”
Was insisted several times over, so Wachtel relented and searched out Jagger. “I went out and said, ‘Mick, isn’t the chorus supposed to go like this?’ I played it for him, and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re playing it wrong.’ He was like, ‘What?! What the fuck!’ We go to the lounge and he pulls out his notebook, and he’s got chord symbols for himself written on the page. ‘See?’ he says. ‘It’s right there.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s right on the page, but you’re not playing it right.’ And he went, ‘Fuck!’”
Instead of throwing a tantrum, though, Jagger remained professional and re-recorded his part. “I’m always amazed at how diligent both Mick and Keith are about every piece of music they work on,” Wachtel noted.
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