At 71, I’m finally growing up, says Keith Richards

Keith Richards
Keith Richards
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THE ROLLING Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards says he’s finally growing up, or evolving, at 71.

Richards was talking to Radio 4’s Kirsty Young as her latest guest on Desert Island Discs, and also said having grandchildren made him realise he was “in for a longer haul.”

Asked about his rock ‘n’ roll image, Richards said: “That’s the image and it’s like a ball and chain, but, you know, I recognise it, and I’m in that sort of jail, but at the same time I do love the old Keith and I love the way people cotton on to him... a lot of that’s in the past. I’m growing up, or rather, evolving.”

He credits his mother Doris as being the person who influenced his music tastes.

“Doris would know where there was going to be a half hour on of good music played by certain DJs,” he said, reeling off the names of great musicians they played such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong.

Among the discs he chose were Hank Williams’s You Win Again, calling Hank “the father of modern country music”, adding: “I couldn’t imaging living without a bit of Hank.”

He also chose Etta James’s Sugar On The Floor, saying she was a great friend of his, but also: “I’ve got to have a soul diva in this list somewhere!”.

Richards also spoke frankly about his relationship with The Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger.

He said: “Mick and I have a great relationship except when we don’t, which is when everybody hears about it. With Mick, I’ve felt like it’s a brother thing, and what brothers don’t fight occasionally? And we’re always fighting for the right reasons; we just think that our version is more right than the others.”

Formed in 1962, the band went on to become one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

Richards reckoned they are still performing because “we still think we’re getting better. We could be fooling ourselves, but from the response from the audience and the way I’m feeling and the way the boys are playing, is this promise of more and I mean... who is going to jump off a moving bus?”

He married model Patti Hansen on his 40th birthday in December 1983, and the couple have two daughters. He was previously married to Anita Pallenberg, and the couple had three children together, one of which died from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) at two months old.

Richards told Young: “It was such a shock at the time especially... I’m getting a phone call in Paris and this happened in Geneva, and I thought, I’m going to go mad... unless I do this show tonight.

“If I just sit here with this idea, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe it was just a sense of self-preservation... it was a rough, rough thing. I had a feeling this is a show and I must go on stage. I’ll worry and grieve and think about this all after the show.”

Another of the discs Richards chose was from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

“I was agonising about this because Mozart is my man, but then I found out reading some of his letters that the only good word he had to say about any other composer was Vivaldi, and then I tried to put this together with being on a desert island... so I chose Spring season from Vivaldi,” he explained.

His book of choice was Doctor Dogbody’s Leg from author James Normal Hall, and his luxury item was a machete, which he could build himself a shelter and make a fire with.