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!”
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!