Keith Richards doesn't "have much control" over the Rolling Stones.

The 78-year-old guitarist is preparing for a 60th anniversary tour with the 'Gimme Shelter' hitmakers and he admitted the band - which also includes Sir Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood - has developed a "life of its own" over the years.

He said: “The Stones seems to be a creature with a life of its own.

“You don’t really have much control over it. It’s just a case of, ‘We’re going to do this, OK. Here we go again!’

“The Stones go on. And so do I.”

And Keith is delighted with the way songs he wrote decades ago have remained "fresh" thanks to years of live performances that have made the tracks slowly evolve.

He told The Sun newspaper: “You write the song, you record it, you take it on the road and then the thing takes on a life of its own, you know.

“That’s the fascinating thing about what I do. Songs still keep growing and changing and there’s a freshness about them still, which is encouraging at my age.”

The veteran rocker also has another band, The X-Pensive Winos, and performing with them has given him more of an appreciation for what Mick does on stage.

He said: “When I first worked with the Winos on stage, I thought, ‘Wow!’ 

“Suddenly I got the message about being a frontman and a whole new appreciation of what Mick does.

“It’s non-stop if you’re at the front, whereas with the Stones I could discreetly pull back and hang with Charlie [Watts, late drummer], then go forward when I chose.

“There’s no leeway when you’re the frontman and that took some learning. Well, there it is, I’ve said it. Hats off to Mick! I got it, Mick!”