5 Keefacts About Keith Richards

Keith Richards is a man who needs no lengthy introduction. Ranked number four on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists, he is credited with writing “rock’s greatest single body of riffs” on guitar.

As one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, he’s lived life – and lived it hard – in the spotlight, and somewhat privately.  We all know Keith the pirate.  We know Keith the prankster. We know Keith the immortal (he’ll probably outlive most of us); but did you know Richards used to live in a villa that was occupied by Nazi soldiers during WWII? Or that he once almost burned down the Playboy mansion? A rich life is bound to have a few hidden gems, so here are five facts about Keith Richards that may have fallen through the cracks:

Keef the Boy Scout

In his autobiography, Keith Richards said, “Scouting was a separate thing from music. I wanted to know how to survive … how to find out where I am … how to cook something underground.” However, he did admit that young Keef mostly just took it as “chance to swagger around with a knife on your belt.” But, perhaps longingly, he added, “You didn’t get the knife until you got a few badges.”

Hey! You! Get off of my stage!

During the Stones’ December 18, 1981 concert in Hampton, Virginia, a fan rushed on to the stage, prompting Keith Richards to protect the sanctity of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Richards paused his performance in favor of turning his ‘axe’ into a weapon of self-defense. In Mark Blake’s book Stone Me: The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards, Keef said, “What if he had a gun in his hand or a knife? I mean, he might be a fan, he might be a nutter, and he’s on my turf. I’m gonna chop the mother down!”

Kieth Richards plays guitar during a Rolling Stones rehearsal and recording session of backing tracks for an appearance on the popular TV show Shindig on May 18 and 19 at TCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 18-19, 1965.

Kieth Richards plays guitar during a Rolling Stones rehearsal and recording session of backing tracks for an appearance on the popular TV show Shindig on May 18 and 19 at TCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 18-19, 1965.

Who needs sleep? Not Keith Richards

In Keith Richards’ autobiography Life, he said that on average, he would only sleep two nights a week during the band’s peak of fame. Running the numbers, he said, “This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes.” Even when he did sleep, though, music was still on his mind. As reported by Rolling Stone magazine, Keith has said in interviews that his famous riff from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” came to him in a dream.

Whatever you do, don’t touch his Shepherd’s Pie

In Keith’s circles it’s a well-known fact that he takes his Shepherd’s Pie very seriously. He demands it while on tour and has his own set of rules when it comes to his pies. Late Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable recalled a tense situation involving Keith’s pies in his book Demons And Cocktails. He said, “We were backstage when I saw the pie. Like an excited 10-year-old at Christmas and I whacked several hefty spoonfuls onto my plate.” Luckily, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood stepped in and quickly had it re-crusted by the waiting staff, but not after a waitress bemoaned, “Don’t you know the rules?”

Jumpin’ Jack… the gardener?

Just a year after an infamous and controversy-surrounded drug bust at the same country-house location, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Richards’ Redlands home while jamming in the early morning hours, according to volume 2 of the Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. It was raining heavily outside and Jagger heard the sound of rubber boots thumping by. It was Richards’ gardener, Jack Dyer. Jagger asked what the sound was and Richards replied, “Oh, that’s Jack. That’s Jumpin’ Jack.” As the duo played around with the tune singing “Jumpin’ Jack,” Jagger shouted “Flash!” and shortly thereafter, the hit single was deemed the Stones’ return to their blues roots after their unsuccessful foray into psychedelia.

Bob Bonis might not have captured any Shepherd’s Pie thieves on film, yet he did snap a plethora of other honest, less obsessive, but equally powerful moments of Keith, Mick, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman while serving as the Stones’ U.S. Tour Manager on their first five trips stateside between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for The Beatles on all three on their U.S. tours).

With his Leica M3 always at the ready, Bonis documented the Stones’ indelible contribution to the British Invasion as it hit American shores and created a tsunami of musical, cultural and popular style changes that rolled coast to coast. These never before seen photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

The Beatles After the Breakup

The Beatles take a bow on stage at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, August 21, 1965.

For some Beatles fans the month surrounding New Year’s Eve on both sides can be bitter reminders of sour and sad times in The Beatles’ history.

On January 10, 1969, George Harrison walked away from rehearsal and the band amidst rising tensions. Less than a year later, on December 31, 1970, Paul McCartney officially filed the legal suit to dissolve the group (and publicly announced his departure from the band on April 10, 1970). Then, on December 29, 1974, John Lennon made the breakup official while the group was on holiday at Disney World.

john lennon on stage memorial coliseum portland

John Lennon on stage with The Beatles at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, August 22, 1965.

Perhaps it was an appropriate venue – an enchanted destination to conclude that mysterious and magical wave they had been sailing on across the world. The year’s end shouldn’t be mourned, and although the breakup came with an outpouring of grief (and the shattered hearts of teenage fans everywhere), it ushered in new beginnings and great successes for each member.

The Beatles had been on the trajectory heading toward the breakup since 1968, and it was beginning to show — they were moving away from those boyhood relationships and shedding the skin of the group in favor of their own and towards expressing their unique individual styles and preferences. The Lennon and McCartney songwriting duo split into their own respective paths. Harrison continued to develop as a songwriter. Ringo Starr, meanwhile, was also developing as a songwriter, as well as an actor and producer.

Rolling Stone Magazine described the 1968 album The Beatles (also known as the White Album) as “four solo albums in one roof.” And so, rather than lament or analyze the breakup of the Fab Four, the Bob Bonis Archive would like to celebrate the members’ continued success as individuals by touching on some of the accomplishments of each Beatle, after the breakup.

paul mccartney on stage crosley field cincinnati ohio

Paul McDartney on stage at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 21, 1966.

Paul McCartney

While he had already proven his worth as a songwriter with the Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney continued his upward trajectory to become recognized as one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. Throughout his career with the Beatles and his solo work, McCartney is credited with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million for both albums and singles. He is a two-time Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductee and a 21-time GRAMMY Award winner. In 1997, McCartney was knighted for his contributions to music. Sir Paul continues to perform actively to this day.

John Lennon

Unaware his time was limited, Lennon continued to be an agent of change and a voice of peace. Before the breakup, he met and fell in love with artist Yoko Ono (who, to this day, and despite heated emotions by fans over decades, is steadfast that she was never a catalyst to the breakup). In 1970 the pair released the album John Lennnon/Plastic Ono Band to the praise of critics. The couple also continued their activism, the most notable being the “bed-ins” opposing the Vietnam War. With the birth of his son Sean, Lennon began to focus his energy on his family, and only briefly made a return to music before being assassinated by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980 in New York City.

george harrison backstage st louis missouri

George Harrison backstage at Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966.

George Harrison

Although he didn’t receive as much recognition as a songwriter as did Lennon and McCartney while he was playing with the Beatles, his solo talent would begin to flourish as the end neared. After the band split, he released the triple album All Things Must Pass to much critical acclaim. Although he also worked as a music and film producer, his musical roots kept him on the stage. In 1988 he co-founded the platinum-selling super-group the Traveling Wilburys, and Rolling Stone ranked him number 21 on their list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He is also a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and collaborated with other great artists such as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and of course, Ringo Starr. Harrison passed away on November 29, 2001 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Ringo Starr

After the breakup Ringo Starr went on to pursue his own extensive solo career. In the years immediately following, he released three solo albums with great success. His 1973 album Ringo reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since earned a certified platinum status. His artistic side also led to his involvement in film, such as producing the glam-rock documentary Born to Boogie and acting in several films. He has continued to make music throughout the years, however, his most recent gift to the world came in the form of a photography book. Titled Photograph, it features 250 rare and unseen photographs of both his personal and Beatles life. Combined with original text written by him, Starr offers an intimate glimpse into his life and his fellow band members.

And in the end…

While Ringo first began exploring photography in 1963, during their American tours, Bob Bonis stepped in as the band’s primary photographer. While serving as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Beatles from 1964 to 1966 (and also for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond), Bonis practiced his artistic passion for photography while the band focused on their music.

Using his trusty Leica M3 camera, and through his unique level of access to The Beatles both on and off stage, Bonis captured honest and candid moments of the worldwide phenomenon that was The Beatles. Through The Bob Bonis Archive, these never before seen photographs are now available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

ringo starr john lennon paul mccartney kansas city

Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney perform at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964.

Bill Wyman: Jumpin’ Jack [Of All Trades] Flash

Bill Wyman, born William George Perks, seen with fellow Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Image by Bob Bonis

Bill Wyman may have begun his career in The Rolling Stones as a bit of a misfit, but what he lacked in comradery with his fellow band members he compensated for with a variety of interests and talents outside the world of rock-n-roll.

According to Wyman’s website, he auditioned for the Rolling Stones on December 7, 1962, and played his first gig with them shortly after. The group was initially impressed with his instrument and an amplifier he built himself. Besides playing bass, Wyman also provided backing vocals on early records and live shows.

But when he joined the band at age 26, he was 7 years older than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Additionally, he was married and employed, causing him to feel like an outsider within the band.

While he didn’t exactly sync with the antics of the rest of the group, he proved himself to be an eclectic individual, and later on, a valuable archivist of the Stones’ early years.

In a 2013 interview, he said he began collecting Rolling Stones memorabilia, such as press clippings and tickets, because he had an eight-month-old son at the time and wanted to document that point in his life.

Bill Wyman with Biran Jones and Mick Jagger rehearsing in studio for a Rolling Stones appearance on TV show Shindig. Image by Bob Bonis

Bill Wyman with Biran Jones and Mick Jagger rehearsing in studio for a Rolling Stones appearance on the TV show “Shindig.”

He said, “The band wasn’t slightly interested in collecting anything and they thought I was an idiot for doing it. But they don’t think [so] anymore.” But, scrapbooking and journaling came naturally to Wyman. He kept a journal throughout his childhood, beginning during the years following WWII. Some of this writing was used in his 1990 autobiography Stone Alone and his 2002 book Rolling with the Stones.

He wrote that his childhood was “scarred by poverty,” which subsequently lent itself to the ingenuity he applied to his varying interests. For example, prior to his tryout with the Stones, he had been performing music around London with a fretless bass that he customized himself.

This ingenuity also led him to design, market and patent the “Bill Wyman Signature Metal Detector.” Wyman has been metal detecting as a hobby for years and has amassed an extensive collection of ancient coins dating from years 1100AD to 1836AD. Some of his discoveries have even been donated to museums.

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Wyman said, “I’ve always been interested in multiple things since I was a teenager. I’ve always been interested in ancient cultures, archaeology, astronomy, photography, art – and as I grew up, I tried to learn more and embellish those things by reading books and [watching] documentaries and films.”

Because of his inherent interest in photography since a youngster, Wyman has become a highly proficient photographer and his works have been featured in galleries across the globe. The subjects of his photographs, not surprisingly, are mostly of fellow musicians. However, in an unlikely friendship, he focused his keen eye on the works and life of Russian-French artist Marc Chagall, released in the limited edition book Wyman Shoots Chagall.

From 1964 to 1966, while Bob Bonis was serving as U.S. Tour Manager for the Rollings Stones on their first five trips stateside (as well as for all three of The Beatles’ American tours), Wyman watched as Bonis engaged his own passion for photography. With his Leica M3 primed and ready to capture the next moment in rock-n-roll history, it’s easy to imagine the adult Bonis and Wyman talking shop while the kids played. We would have loved to be a fly on those walls.

The iconic and intimate photographs captured by Bonis during these years are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Part II

the beatles, john lennon, paul mccartney, george harrison, ringo starr in bel air california august 23-24 1964 photo by bob bonis

The British Invasion was in full swing, and as The Beatles’ popularity grew, they became a worldwide sensation with rock-n-roll fans and popular media alike.

The press had already dubbed the worldwide phenomenon “Beatlemania.” Then, following the release of their second studio album With the Beatles, the band’s press officer Tony Barrow referred to the band as the “fabulous foursome” in a news release, which the media adopted as “The Fab Four.”

But on the fringes of “The Fab Four” were the outliers. While not officially part of the band, many people played a major part in their careers or personal lives – managers, agents, media, other artists and more. These people are sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” (sometimes by themselves!). Exactly who had rightful claim to the assumed title, however, is still up for debate. So who might the Fifth Beatle actually be? In Part I of this 2-part blog, we identified several candidates. Here we present the next list of royal contenders. What do you think?

Derek Taylor

A British journalist, writer and publicist, Derek Taylor is recognized mostly for his work as press officer for The Beatles. In true spin fashion, he is credited with coining the phrase “The Beatles Are Coming.” He was working as a journalist when he was asked to write a review of The Beatles’ May 30, 1963 concert. According to BeatlesBible.com, Taylor was expected to write a criticism of what the national press called an “inconsequential teen fad.” Instead, he was captivated by the music and praised the performance. Shortly afterwards, he was invited into the Beatles’ circle as a trusted journalist.

Neil Aspinall

A school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Neil Aspinall is best known for his work as the head of The Beatles’ company Apple Corps. In the band’s early years, the group employed Aspinall as their road manager and personal assistant. Following the band’s return from their second trip to Hamburg in 1961, Aspinall left his job as an accountant to become The Beatles’ full time road manager. Following the break-up, he worked on expanding the band’s legacy with projects such as the Anthology records.

Mal Evans

In the early 1960s, Mal Evans was working as a telephone engineer and a part-time bouncer at the Cavern Club, a Liverpool music venue where the Beatles often performed. Beatles manager Brian Epstein eventually hired Evans as the group’s assistant road manager, working alongside Neil Aspinall. Evans contributed to several Beatles recordings and even appeared in some of the band’s films. After the band stopped touring in 1966, he continued to offer his assistance until their break-up in 1970.

George Martin

After recording the Beatles’ first studio album Please Please Me, English record producer Sir George Martin famously told the band, “Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just made your first number one [record],” according to the BBC. He is often referred to as the Fifth Beatle due to his extensive involvement with each of the Beatles’ studio albums. Martin is also lauded as one of the best record producers in history. He was behind 30 number-one hits in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.

Ed Rudy

Being the only American reporter allowed to accompany The Beatles on their first United States tour, Ed Rudy was able to spend exclusive time with the band. In an interview with Examiner, Rudy said that going on tour with them was “an unforgettable and life-changing experience.” He was embedded with the band as they navigated the raging “Beatlemania,” where he was “in the midst of a very friendly, though sometimes accidentally dangerous, raging mob of American teenagers.” While promoting the band in broadcasts around the world, the Beatles dubbed him the Fifth Beatle.

While the Fifth Beatle moniker seems to be applied somewhat liberally, there was another man behind the scenes ensuring the Beatles’ continued success. While serving as the band’s U.S. Tour Manager for all three American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as The Rolling Stones on their first five U.S. Tours), Bob Bonis took it upon himself to chronicle the Beatles and the historic moments he shared with them in this most important time in their careers: coming to America and heralding The British Invasion.

Captured using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis’ iconic photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

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