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Keith Richards

He is without a doubt one of the most fascinating figures in the history of modern music. He has been leading the biggest and oldest band in the rock world for 60 years. Although for years he has been at the top of the list of the next artist to pass away, he does not intend to stop even for a moment and he is still performing on stage. Ladies and gentlemen Keith Richards is celebrating his birthday today, so let's honor him with some interesting facts.

(Photo: Andrew Benge)


1. He was born on December 18, 1943, in Kent, England, right in the midst of World War II. He is the only child of Doris Maud Lydia (née Dupree) and Herbert William Richards.


2. His mother exposed him to jazz music and also encouraged him to perform in the church choir, but it was his grandfather - Augustus Theodore "Gus" Dupree, who was a Big Band player, who was the source of his musical inspiration.


3. Keith said his grandfather was the one who pushed him to play the guitar. He would create stimulations to make Keith want to play the instrument.


4. Richards said his grandfather was the one who bought him his first guitar. He placed it on a high shelf and told him that if he could reach it he could play it. Keith of course succeeded and he noted that it was the "award of the century" for him.


5. The first song his grandfather taught him to play on the guitar was the Spanish song "Malagueña". This was because he thought Spanish playing would be good for Keith's finger practice.


6. One of Richards' first guitar heroes was Elvis' guitarist Scotty Moore.


7. As a child he listened to artists like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and more.


8. However, the biggest influence on him was that of Chuck Berry. He learned to play all of his songs by heart.


9. If we've already mentioned Chuck Berry, then Richards took a punch from him when on one of Chuck's shows he touched his guitar. Keith mentioned the "Black Eye" he got from Chuck in his induction speech to the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. See here:


10. Richards attended Wentworth Elementary School with Mick Jagger. They were also neighbors until 1954 when the two families moved out of the neighborhood.


11. In 1959 Richards was expelled from high school for behavioral problems. The school principal thought he would be suitable to be an artist, so he was sent to the "Sidcup" art school.


12. Keith and Jagger would meet again years later, on the train when Mick Jagger took on his way to an economics class. Keith immediately noticed that Jagger was carrying records by Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters and that was enough to connect the two.


13. In 1962, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Brian Jones formed "The Rolling Stones".


14. The "Rolling Stones" made their debut on 12 July 1962 at the Marquee Club in London. The lineup was of Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Dick Taylor, and Tony Chapman on drums.


January 15, 1963, The classic "Rolling Stones" lineup was completed with Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums.

(Photo: Terry O'Neill)


16. The band started out playing in blues and jazz clubs around London, slowly building a devoted fan base. At first, they played cover versions of old Rhythm & Blues hits, but slowly they added original material written mostly by Jagger and Richards.


17. Until September 1963, Jones, Jagger, and Richards shared an apartment in Chelsea. They listened to a lot of music, especially the blues of Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, and Howling Wolf.


18. In 1963 they were signed by "DECCA" on the recommendation of George Harrison. As you may recall, "DECCA" was the one that a year earlier had rejected "The Beatles" because they thought they would not succeed.


19. The band's first album was released in 1964. Since then Richards was a part of 31 studio albums the band has released so far, as well as 13 live albums, 3 mini albums, 28 compilation albums, and more and more ...


20. Keith prefers not to use effects in his guitar playing. He likes to hear exactly what his amplifier is putting out. At the same time, in 1965 he first used Gibson's "fuzzbox" effect to write one of the greatest riffs of all time, for the song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Of course, the success of the single led to the popularity of the effect.


21. On December 3, 1965, while playing "The Last Time" during a performance in Sacramento, California, his guitar touched his microphone stand and he was electrocuted. He was rushed to the hospital and the doctors noted that what saved him was the thick soles of his shoes. The next day he had already returned to perform.


21. Keith sings backing vocals on every band album, starting with the album "Let It Bleed" released in 1969, he is also usually the lead singer on one song from the album.


22. In addition to playing the guitar (lead and rhythm), Keith also occasionally contributed bass and keyboards.


23. The studio recordings of the songs "Street Fighting Man" and "Jumpin 'Jack Flash" do not include electric guitar playing. Richards achieved the sound by layers of acoustic guitar recorded on top of each other.


24. Keith claimed that he slept only two nights a week on average, during the glorious days of "the Stones". He referred to this and said: "This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes".


25. He is known for the image of the drugged and stoned rocker. He was arrested several times for possession and use of drugs, two of the most famous of which, were in 1967 when Jagger and Richards were arrested after a well-publicized police search of Richards' country house, and the one from 1977, where he was arrested at a hotel in Toronto, Canada, with two ounces of heroin and cocaine.


26. During his lifetime Keith nearly died in a fire three times. The first time, he and the famous session musician Bobby Keys accidentally set fire to a bathroom in the Playboy Mansion in 1972. The second time happened during the recording of the album "Exile on Main Street", when he and his girlfriend, Anita Felenberg, fell asleep while Richards was holding a lit cigarette that set the bed on fire. The third time, mice chewed on the power lines of Keith's Redlands estate and set the house on fire.


27. Keith is literally a "cat with 9 souls". There are quite a few cases where he was close to death, beyond the guitar electric shock and the fires described above. It all started when he was a year old then the neighborhood where he grew up was bombed by the Nazis during World War II. He also fell from a tree while on holiday on Fiji Island and suffered a head injury, a pile of books fell on him in his home library and he was even poisoned when someone put strychnine into his heroin.


28. Perhaps this is why since the 1970s he has been wearing a ring with a skull on his finger. He noted that it was set to remind him that we all have one thing in common.


29. Keith failed his driver's license test three times. Eventually, he asked his bodyguard to do it for him and passed.


30. Five years after his father's death, he claimed to have mixed the ashes of his father's body with cocaine and sniffed them.


31. Keith also appears in films including the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, where he appeared in three movies as the pirate Edward Teague - the father of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Photo: (Disney)


32. He is ranked fourth on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists" list.


33. He co-wrote with Mick Jagger no less than 14 songs that are included in Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."


34. In 1989, Richards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with "the Stones".


35. In 2004 he was inducted into the British Music Hall of Fame with "the Rolling Stones".


36. In 1993 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of songwriters.

(Photo: The Guardian)


37. He was nominated along with "the Stones" for 11 Grammy Awards. They won two of them.


38. Keith has more than 3,000 guitars in his private collection, but he does not play most of them.


39. Richards is an avid reader. He has a very large collection of books.


40. Keith has pursued a solo career, during which he has released three albums.


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