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Keith Richards

Born on the 18th December 1943 in Dartford, England (a town which is also the hometown of one Mick Jagger; the pair meeting at primary school), the young Keith Richards was introduced to music by his grandfather, a musician and jazz enthusiast. Richards’s great lifelong love story began when he was fifteen, when his mother bought him his first guitar. The guitarist quickly developed an interest in the blues and Chuck Berry, who became his greatest role model.

As a teenager, Richards was sent to board at the Sidcup Art School. There, he met Dick Taylor, and reunited with his old friend Mick Jagger. This fresh-faced trio also encountered Brian Jones and the pianist Ian Stewart, with whom they formed a raucous band playing American blues standards. In 1962, they performed under the name of The Rolling Stones for the first time, in London. The greatest legend in rock'n'roll was about to begin.

Although it is his look, his eternally cool attitude, and his other assorted ‘misdemeanours’ that have attracted the attention of the British press, it is primarily through Richards’s work as a songwriter and rhythm guitarist that he has earned his place in the history books. Indeed, the Stones’s leadership passed from Brian Jones to the Jagger-Richards duo in 1965; the success of ‘Satisfaction’ igniting the band’s world, and making Keith Richards’s career overnight.

Before the death of Brian Jones in 1969, Keith Richards had coupled up with his former girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, in 1967. Following this, Richards and Pallenberg’s third child died in uncertain circumstances in 1976, a tragedy which seriously worsened the guitarist’s addiction to hard drugs. Between these two terrible events, The Rolling Stones recorded a series of albums that will forever mark the history of rock: Aftermath (1966), Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972), many of which owe their fame to the stylistic creations of their rhythm guitarist (in particular, Richards’s deployment of ‘open’ chords, and riffs played on five strings).

At the end of the 1980s, a falling out with Jagger prompted Richards to follow his own path. In 1987, he co-produced and actively participated in the creation of a filmic tribute to Chuck Berry, entitled Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock’n’roll. With his band The X-Pensive Winos he recorded Talk Is Cheap in 1988, and in 1991 released Live at the Hollywood Palladium, two ventures that were better received than Mick Jagger’s breakaway pop, recorded in the same period. After the reunion of the Glimmer Twins (the pseudonym of the Jagger/Richards side-project duo) with the album Steel Wheels in 1989, Richards published Main Offender, his second solo album, in 1992.

These late period albums are all strong releases, but it is as the composer of the likes of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’, working with the classic honk of Mick Jagger, that Richards and the other Stones have ensured their status as living legends. Richards has recently celebrated his career in a memoir entitled Life (2010), which was received with great success in bookstores. To follow this up, in 2015, on vacation from his parent group, the long-time lover of the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster sought out his former X-Pensive Winos musicians to record a new album. The fruit born from this is the rabidly anticipated Crosseyed Heart, on which the duet ‘Illusion’ with songstress Norah Jones appears.


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