What can you say about Keith Richards, who turned 67 today?
His hardcore rock and roll lifestyle is legendary, and he is a singularly unique personality — no wonder Johnny Depp designed Captain Jack Sparrow, his memorable rogue pirate character in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ after Richards.
Sometimes it’s even easy to forget that the man was responsible for some of rock’s greatest tunes.
Richards met Mick Jagger in 1961, when the two were students and chatted it up over vinyl records Jagger was lugging along. The following year they met Brian Jones and formed the band we all came to know as The Rolling Stones.
Jones was clearly the early genius in the band, but substance abuse ultimately sapped his energy, leaving Jagger and Richards as the group’s main figures — and premier songwriters. Here we are a half century later, and there’s not a music fan out there that wouldn’t recognize a Stones tune.
Somehow it came out of Richards. He’s often told the story of how he came up with the riff for ‘Satisfaction,’ saying he wrote it in his sleep. Basically, he passed out partying, woke up with the riff in his head, clicked on the reel-to-reel, recorded a few bars, and passed back out. Funny how that stuff works in Richards’ world.
It’s perhaps easier to dismiss the Stones today, years and years beyond their most vibrant and significant work. Even among fans there’s always a running debate over which was the last important Stones album, whether it’s ‘Some Girls’ or not. I know more than a few music fans who’d go back to ‘Let it Bleed’ or ‘Exile on Main Street.’ Hard to argue with any of them.
And Richards is pretty much the man behind the tunes.
So, happy birthday Keith. That must be one helluva party.
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