The Rolling Stones: Why Mick Taylor Had To Go

The band’s legendary studio engineer Glyn Johns describes how the guitarist dramatically changed after the Exile On Main Street sessions.

The Rolling Stones: Why Mick Taylor Had To Go

VETERAN ROLLING STONES engineer and producer Glyn Johns witnessed a dramatic change in the group’s guitarist Mick Taylor (above, second from left), who replaced Brian Jones in 1969, after the hedonistic Exile On Main Street sessions in the South of France in 1971. MOJO 257: the newsstand cover, featuring Glyn Johns on the Stones. On sale now.

“He turned from from being a quiet, softly spoken, charming young man into a raving egomaniac junkie,” Johns tells MOJO in the latest issue of the magazine (April 2015/ # 257). “I was mixing the record… and said to Mick Jagger, ‘Either he goes or I go.’”

In an eight-page feature detailing the producer’s turbulent working relationship with the Stones, spanning their earliest demos in 1963 to 1975’s Black And Blue sessions, Johns explains how Jagger asked him to work on the tapes of Exile In Main Street in London after sessions at Nellcôte in France “had run riot and people were allowed to do whatever they wanted”.

“I said to Mick Jagger, ‘Either he goes or I go.’”

Glyn Johns

Johns descibes working on a track at Basing Street Studios on which Taylor had overdubbed backing vocals, drums and a bass. When Taylor asked the famously no-nonsense producer why he had removed them, he replied, “The Rolling Stones have a f**king great drummer and a really great bass player. You, sunshine, play the guitar and you’ll hear it rather nicely when I’ve finished this.”

It was then left to Jagger to ask the guitarist to leave the studio so Johns could continue mixing the track to his satisfaction. Taylor would sensationally leave the Stones three years later in December 1974, and, after quitting drugs during a long and successful solo career, rejoined the group onstage for their 2013 ‘50 & Counting’ tour.

The producer – who remains on friendly terms with the surviving Stones and worked on their 50th anniversary collection, Grrr! – is currently promoting his memoir, Sound Man, recounting his extraordinary 50-year career as engineer/producer for the Stones, The Beatles, Small Faces, The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Clash and more.

Watch Mick Taylor's live debut with the Stones at London’s Hyde Park in July 1969 below.

PHOTO: Getty Images