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Keith Richards Plays Rolling Stones Classics After Walking onto the Tonight Show Set Too Soon

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards visited The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on the heels of bandmate Ronnie Wood's visit, to talk about their Hackney Diamonds album, the band's friendship with The Beatles, and more. 


By Samantha Vincenty

For rock fans, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards needs no introduction. Good thing, because the music icon decided to walk on to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon set before he'd been formally introduced. 

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

Host Jimmy Fallon is a major Rolling Stones fan who helped the band announce their first album in 18 years, Hackney Diamonds, back in September. At the top of the October 20 episode, Fallon showed off a fresh vinyl copy of the album and described attending the band's secret-show album release party DJed by The Roots' drummer Questlove.

Just as Fallon was launching into an impression of frontman Mick Jagger performing feet away from Fallon and Quest—and revealing that Lady Gaga showed up to sing her "Sweet Sounds of Heaven" feature with the band—he'd barely mentioned Keith Richards' scheduled appearance when the man himself walked out, waving to the audience. 

RELATED: Mick Jagger Visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon This Week

Fallon quickly shoo'd Richards backstage. "He will be on the show," Fallon said. "But not yet."

Keith Richards on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode 1858

Keith Richards tells Jimmy Fallon about the Beatles' lesser-known impact on the band

Keith Richards on The Rolling Stones' Album and The Beatles Giving Them Their First Hit (Extended)

The 79-year-old guitarist told Fallon that the secret show was the first time the band had performed most of the album tracks live. "The band feels really good about it," Richards said. "A band exists on what it does."

Paul McCartney is featured on album track "Bite My Head Off," prompting Fallon to exclaim, "a Beatle and the Rolling Stones played on one song together for the first time!"

"No," Richards corrected him. "First off, they gave us one our big hits." Richards explained that McCartney and John Lennon wrote "I Wanna Be Your Man," which the Rolling Stones wound up recording as a single in 1963 (it was later recorded by The Beatles as well). Lennon and McCartney also contributed vocals to Stones songs "We Love You" and "Dandelion" in the 1960s.

RELATED: Ronnie Wood Talks Working with Lady Gaga and Losing Charlie Watts on The Tonight Show

This history prompted Fallon to ask what the true relationship was between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, two of the biggest British rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

"Did you hate each other?" Fallon asked Richards. 

"No," Richards said, "though we'd play up to that." Really, he says, the Beatles and Rolling Stones were actually (competitive colleagues) and friends. 

Keith Richards and Jimmy Fallon play the Rolling Stones' hits

During his Tonight Show visit, Keith Richards whipped out his acoustic guitar to play a few of the Rolling Stones' best-known songs, such as "Start Me Up" and "Honky Tonk Women," while Jimmy Fallon busted out his best Mick Jagger.