Happy Birthday to Rolling Stones co-founder Keith Richards, who turns 73-years-old today (December 18th)!!! Richards, a man who due to his previous penchant for hard street drugs wasn’t expected to see 30 — let alone 70 — has often infamously topped numerous “Most Likely To Die Lists” over the years. The Stones are currently back in the Top 10 with their latest studio set, the blues covers album, Blue & Lonesome, sitting at Number Four on the Billboard 200.
September 2015 saw the release of Keith Richards’ third solo album — and his first in 22 years — titled, Crosseyed Heart. Joining him on the set are his X-Pensive Winos bandmates — guitarist Waddy Watchel and chief collaborator, drummer Steve Jordan, Sara Dash, and Ivan Neville — along with longtime Stones associates Blondie Chaplin and Bernard Fowler.
Crosseyed Heart marks the highest charting album of Richards’ solo career, with the new album hitting Number 11 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album’s lead single, “Trouble,” went all the way to Number 20 on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart. Crosseyed Heart, which sailed to Number One in Austria, reached the Top 10 on the Belgium, Danish, Dutch, Italian, New Zealand, Norwegian, Swedish, Swiss, and UK album charts.
Sunday is bound to be a bittersweet day for Richards, as it would have also marked Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys’ 73rd birthday. Keys, who was among Richards’ best friends, died on December 2nd, 2014 from cirrhosis of the liver at age 70. Keys, who met the band back in 1964 recorded and toured with the Stones frequently over the past 45 years, playing on such classics as “Brown Sugar,” “Bitch,” “Can’t You Hear me Knocking,” “Emotional Rescue,” and dozens of others.
In 2014, Richards and daughter Theadora published the children’s book, Gus & Me: The Story Of My Granddad And My First Guitar.
Not too long ago, Richards spoke to Australia’s Triple M radio’s Lee Simon and touched upon his favorite Stones tunes to play live, saying, “I always love to play ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’ I still haven’t nailed him and every time I say, ‘tonight I’m gonna kill that mutha.’ He is always the beautiful challenge to play. ‘Tumbling Dice’ is another one that I just love to play. It is just a sweet thing to play and you are never short of just finding different ways of doing it. As long as the song lives for me I love them all. ‘Street Fighting Man’ is an incredible thing to play. ‘Beast Of Burden,’ when it comes down to it I love them all.”
He went on to admit that he often has felt as a conduit for the song — rather than being its composer: “I never really felt like I wrote them or created them. They come to you and you order it up a bit and then you put it on. I feel like a medium when it comes to songwriting as if I’m receiving, I sort it out and then I transmit.”
In October 2010, Richards released his critically acclaimed autobiography, called Life — which has now sold over one million copies.
Richards, along with Mick Jagger, has written some of the most enduring and important songs of the rock era, including “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Under My Thumb,” “Gimme Shelter,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Brown Sugar,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” “As Tears Go By,” “Street Fighting Man,” “She’s A Rainbow,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Angie,” “Paint It, Black,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Waiting On A Friend,” “Miss You,” “Emotional Rescue,” “Fool To Cry,” “Wild Horses” “Sympathy For The Devil,” “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll,” “Start Me Up,” and literally hundreds of others.
Although many songs that were primarily written by Richards were sung by Jagger, over the years several of Richards’ vocal turns have become classics of their own, including “You’ve Got The Silver,” “Happy,” “Before They Make Me Run,” “All About You,” “Little T&A,” and “Thru And Thru,” which was featured on The Sopranos.
In 2006 the Stones had to delay a portion of their European tour after Richards fell out of a tree while vacationing in Fiji, which resulted in two operations to relieve and drain the swelling from his brain.
In 2007, Richards, whose drug use is legendary in the rock world, again shocked readers when he told the New Musical Express that, following his father Burt’s 2002 death, he had snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine. After the story became front-page headlines, Richards recanted the story and said that he was joking. In his autobiography, Richards changed the story again — admitting that he snorted a bit of his dad, but failed to mention any cocaine.
Former Stones bassist Bill Wyman maintains that Keith Richards is quite possibly rock’s most unique musician: “Well, Keith’s like a gypsy, really. A pirate. He lives life like that and he plays like that and he’s a great rhythm guitar player, anyway. I think, probably one of the best rhythm guitar players there’s been for years. And when he gets going, I mean, it really lifts the band.”
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