They said this day would NEVER come — yet here we are — wishing the Rolling Stones co-founder Keith Richards a very happy 75th birthday today (December 18th)!!! Richards, a man who due to his previous penchant for hard street drugs wasn’t expected to see 30 — let alone 50 — has often infamously topped numerous “Most Likely To Die Lists” over the years. Today also marks the 35th anniversary for Richards and wife Patti Hansen, who married in 1983 on the guitarist’s 40th birthday — with Mick Jagger serving as best man.
Last week, Richards grabbed headlines when revealed that — barring the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer — he’s essentially sober. Richards — whose primary poison for years was Stoli and Sunkist — told Rolling Stone: “It’s been about a year now. I pulled the plug on it. I got fed up with it. It was time to quit. Just like all the other stuff.” When asked if it was an adjustment for him, Richards laughed and said, “You can call it that, yeah. But I don’t notice any difference really — except for I don’t drink. I wasn’t feeling (right). I’ve done it. I didn’t want that anymore. . . It was interesting to play sober.”
Stones guitarist Ron Wood, who’s been sober since 2010 explained, “It just wasn’t working anymore, y’know? I think the Keith that we used to know and love had this cutoff point where if he had one more, he’d go over the top and he’d be nasty. The cutoff point became shorter and shorter, y’know, and he realized that.”
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.
Last month, in cerebration of both its 40th anniversary and Record Store Day 2018, Richards re-released “Run Rudolph Run” — his debut solo single — a special 12-inch vinyl release. The disc is backed with its original B-side, a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s 1972 hit “The Harder They Come,” and a 2003 recording of Richards with Toots & The Maytals performing “Pressure Drop,” that was first released when the single was issued digitally back in 2007.
“Run Rudolph Run” there is still some debate as to who actually wrote the song, with many believing it was actually written by Chuck Berry, but due to the lyrics being based on the song, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the “Father of Rock n’ Roll” had to cede the copyright over to that song’s composers — Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. Although Keith Richards’ version was recorded in 1976, it took another two years until the song made the rounds as a radio promo single, before being released commercially in 1979.
It was announced over the summer that the Rolling Stones have expanded their decade-long global deal with Universal Music Group (UMG). The press release announcing the new contract explained UMG will continue to distribute the band’s catalogue from 1971 through the present. UMG’s subsidiary Eagle Rock, which handles “music programming for broadcast, DVD, Blu-Ray, TV and Digital Media” announced six upcoming concert film re-issues currently on the schedule — Atlanta (1989); Steel Wheels (1989-90); Voodoo Lounge (1994); Bridges To Babylon (1997-1998); Four Flicks (2002); and Bigger Bang (2005-2006) — although no street dates were made available. In addition to the Stones’ past and current recorded output, UMG will play a key role in the group’s merchandising:
Last January, the Stones’ 2016 return to their roots, Blue & Lonesome, won the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. Although it topped the charts in no less than 10 countries, including Britain — Blue & Lonesome — the Stones’ first studio set in over a decade, fell short Stateside, peaking at Number Four. In addition to England, the album went all the way to Number One on the Australian, Belgian, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Scottish, Swedish, and Swiss album charts.
The Rolling Stones have a 15-show stadium run on the books for 2019. Keith Richards told us that luckily, the Stones are all in great shape for their age and pretty much always road ready: “I think everybody basically keeps themselves in pretty good shape. Nobody’s get any, any problems at all — minor or major, I think. It’s. . . in a way, I think it’s good for me (laughs).”