Keith Richards has admitted the Rolling Stones’ 1990 break was “necessary” to keep the band together.

After their “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour”, the “Paint it Black” rockers took a brief break to work on solo projects, Keith releasing his second solo album with The X-Pensive Winos, “Main Offender”, in 1992.

As the LP turns 30, the 78-year-old reflected on the “strange time” and admitted the legendary band’s time off was much needed.

Speaking to Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Keith said: “It was a weird time.

“Looking back on it now, it was a necessary break. Once we started again, I felt stronger than I had for a long time.”

Keith explained how experiencing being the frontman himself during his gigs with the Winos enlightened him about the pressure Sir Mick Jagger is under as a bandleader.

He continued: “By doing the Winos, I had learned a lot more about being the leader.

“In other words, I came back to the Stones with a lot more knowledge about what Mick’s job entails. And it’s quite amazingly different, you’re there all the time.”

Keith “tightened up” during his getaway with the Winos and came back stronger when the “Satisfaction” hitmakers reunited.

He added, “I mean, you guys are non-stop. With the Stones, I can slip my time. But doing the Winos, while I was working the Winos singing and playing the guitar too, it really tightened me.

“And I brought a lot of knowledge and a much tighter feel when I came back to the Stones.”

Keith had gone through a turbulent period in 1986, when relations between him and Mick, also 78, hit an all-time low during the making of their ‘Dirty Work’ album, which the former described as ‘the sometimes forget”.

Keith felt the need to find a new challenge and so he started working with drummer Steve Jordan – who is now the band’s touring drummer after the death of Charlie Watts last summer – who contributed to “Dirty Work ‘, and previously admitted he was ‘kidded and screamed’ into the studio to start work on his debut studio album, ‘Talk Is Cheap’, which was released two years later in 1988.

Mick had also released his solo album “Primitive Cool” the previous year, which would have given Keith an even boost.

The couple put their differences aside when the creators of “Gimme Shelter” were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989.

Listen to the full interview on Apple Music 1: