Keith Richards has boasted the reason The Rolling Stones are still playing huge shows is because they are ''damn good''.

The 69-year-old rocker explained keeping a solid, quality line-up for so long was incredibly ''important'' to making the band last as long as it has over their 50 year career.

He told the Mail on Sunday newspaper's Event Magazine: ''We know we're damn good and we have some weird desire to make it better.

''Everyone's still here, which is obviously an important ingredient. With any band that has been around, even for a few years, not everybody likes everybody all the time.

''But maybe you have a need for that conversation to continue, and music is the one way you can do that. It's stronger than the other things that get in the way.''

The guitarist has had a difficult friendship at times with the band's singer Sir Mick Jagger, but he insisted this would be impossible to avoid in such an environment - but their music was enough to help them deal with any issues.

He added: ''It would be a miracle, wouldn't it, in 50 years for two guys to get on let alone three or four?

''I don't want to over-emphasise the differences between Mick and me. You never hear about the 98 per cent of the time we're in sync and know each other and know what we want to do.

''But my main means of communication is through music. Call it a gentlemen's agreement or something like that. It's unspoken, but I notice that once we start working, a lot of the barriers or whatever you want to call them do tend to disappear.''