Simon Phillips, who played drums on Mick Jagger’s 1987 solo album Primitive Cool and was a member of the band he took on tour the following year, suggested that the road trip was just a ruse to get the Rolling Stones into Japan.
Jagger booked shows in only Japan and Australia, seemingly as a result of the lukewarm response to the album. But in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Phillips said he wondered if there was another reason for the way things worked out on the 1988 road trip.
“When we started playing shows in Japan, half the set was Stones songs,” he said. “I felt, ‘What’s the point? Why do that? This is a chance for you to do something different, a solo project.’ … Unless, of course, this was part of a master plan to get the Stones into Japan. The problem was, the Stones could not enter Japan because of their drug convictions. … Mr. Udo of Udo Artists had to pull so many strings to get the government to allow Mick to come into the country. Maybe this was just a ploy to slowly get the Stones there.”
That’s exactly what happened two years later, Phillips noted. “Of course, that’s [Jagger’s] prerogative and totally up to him,” he explained. “But from a purely musical and creative point of view, I found it strange. ‘Why are we playing all these Stones songs? This is your solo career.’”
Jeff Beck, who appeared on the album, had originally been part of the touring band, too, until he became unhappy with the direction things were taking. “We were trying to put a band together with Jeff, [bassist] Doug Wimbish, myself and Mick,” Phillips said. “But Mick didn’t want that. He wanted the dancing girls and the singers. It was a bit of a shame. And Jeff didn’t really want to do that, so they parted company.”
He recalled that they “did speak about this with Jeff way early, back in 1987. ‘Why are we doing this?’ And the band sounds great as a four-piece. Just add a keyboard player, and let’s play all the new material.’ I think it would have been more interesting, and historically it would have made a much bigger stamp.”
Phillips regretted he’s no longer able to prove his point; his home burned down during the California wildfires of 2017. “I used to have a rehearsal tape of that band, but it unfortunately went in the fire,” he said. “It sounded amazing.”