In a letter written to his aunt in 1962, Keith Richards describes a chance meeting with Mick Jagger – who he had been at school with many years earlier – at a railway station. A mutual interest in the music of Chuck Berry looks to have had a lot to do with the formation of the Rolling Stones.
I was holding one of Chuck’s records when a guy I knew at primary school 7-11 yrs y’know came up to me. He’s got every record Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have too, they are all rhythm and blues fans, real R&B I mean (not this Dinah Shore, Brook Benton crap) Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Chuck, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker all the Chicago bluesmen real lowdown stuff, marvelous. Bo Diddley he’s another great. Anyways the guy on the station, he is called Mick Jagger and all the chicks and the boys meet every Saturday morning in the ‘Carousel’ some juke-joint well one morning in Jan I was walking past and decided to look him up.
In response to being labelled “unbearable” by Keith Richards in his recently published autobiography “Life”, Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger has issued his own version of life with one of rock music’s most revered guitarists.
Without him, what would I have been? Peter Noone? It is hard to use a word like integrity about a band as compromised, as self-bloodied, as we were. But for some years, unlike any other group, the Beatles included, we declared war on that silly, hypocritical, repressive, and arbitrary society in which we lived. The only ammunition we had were Keith’s songs. The lyrics, I confess now, may have been in their defiance just épater la bourgeoisie and in their poesy derivatively Zimmerman-esque. Even when they weren’t, no one would have paid attention if the chords weren’t arresting, irrefutable. The songs spoke primarily through their music, not their words. Keith’s doting fans nattering on about the ultimate avatar of rock ‘n’ roll authenticity irritate me, it’s true; but he may to this day be underappreciated.
The plot thickens though (maybe, some are doubting these are Jagger’s words)… the above excerpt is from a manuscript sent to US rock critic Bill Wyman, not to be confused with the Stone’s former bassist of the same name, who seemingly acts as archivist for the band, despite having left the group in 1992.
A note – apparently written by Jagger – attached to the copy, asked “Bill” to add it to “the vault”, suggesting it was meant to be sent to the erstwhile bassist, rather than the music critic. Given that the respective Wymans live on separate continents, the missive’s misaddressing seems an odd mistake for Jagger to make. Hmm.
Highlights from the about to be published autobiography of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, Life, make for quite a read:
On the night of the infamous 1967 Redlands drug bust, Keef was so far gone on LSD that when the police arrived at his Sussex country mansion, he mistook them for uniformed dwarves, welcoming them in with open arms.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards sums up the enduring old band in four words… “Mick’s rock, I’m roll”.
There is a great moment in Stones in Exile, a new documentary about the making of Exile on Main St in 1971, when Keith Richards defines the essential difference in temperament between Mick Jagger and himself. “Mick needs to know what he’s going to do tomorrow,” says Richards, his voice slurring into a laugh. “Me, I’m just happy to wake up and see who’s hanging around. Mick’s rock, I’m roll.”
Who needs a groovy blues stage name when you play guitar like Keith Richards?
It made me sick – my name’s Keith Richards. It hardly makes it against Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, does it? On my first guitar I had Boy Blue written – just pathetic. But that was as good as I got at the time.
Apparently this is no April Fool’s day joke, Keith Richards almost refused to go on stage after Stuart Cable, whose band the Stereophonics were supporting the Stones at a gig some years ago, took a serving of a shepherd’s pie before Richards had the chance to break it’s potato crust.
“He [Mick Jagger] said, ‘Do you know the rules? You never, ever, take the shepherd’s pie unless Keith’s broken the crust first.’ He twirled on his heels and said jokingly, ‘Enjoy the show, boys. If there will be a show. I’m not sure if he’ll go on after this.’ At least I thought it was a joke.” Desperate to avoid a disaster, Stuart was ordered to take the pie back to the canteen to be “recrusted”. He explained: “Luckily, when I got to catering I knew the waitress. She took it back and shook her head slowly and muttered, ‘Don’t you know the rules?’
Don’t get stoned, Mick and Keith advise
The Rolling Stones say “don’t get stoned”. That has to be the headline of the year, and there are still 10 and a months left of it. But, kudos to the Stones, it seems they are admitting the errors of their ways.
“When we were experimenting with drugs, little was known about the effects,” Mick Jagger said at the premiere of a film showing the band in concert. “In our time, there were no rehab centres. Anyway, I didn’t know about them.” Jagger, 64, experienced international notoriety when he was briefly jailed in 1967 for possessing drugs, but he is better known now for his devotion to fitness. He prepares for tours by running 12km a day, swimming and kick-boxing. Keith Richards, the band’s guitarist and a former heroin addict, warned that if Amy Winehouse, the 24-year-old singer famous for songs such as Rehab and Addicted, did not give up drugs she could end up looking as wrinkly and wasted as he did.
“… [you] could end up looking as wrinkly and wasted as he did”, now how’s that for an enticement to give up drug use?