Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Keith Richards: Sex, Drugs, and How I Wrote the Songs


We may have to re-title Keith Richards’ autobiography, now called “Life.”

It should be called “You’ll Never Rock in this Town Again.”

After reading the excerpts in Rolling Stone and the Times of London, it’s pretty clear he’s left no Stone unturned.

Richards (with collaborator James Fox) has named every name and told every story. There isn’t a person who isn’t spared, a nasty trait or memory that hasn’t been remembered.

For a who guy did massive amounts of drugs for over four decades, Richards has startlingly clear recall.

Already in the press is his evaluation of Mick Jagger as a deficient lover with his, er, small equipment.

But Jagger will be angrier no doubt at Richards’ descriptions of composing the Rolling Stones catalog of songs. Most of them–maybe all with a couple of exceptions–are credited “Jagger-Richards.”

But in the excerpt that’s been released, Keith begins an anecdote with “I wrote Gimme Shelter on a stormy day, sitting in Robert Fraser’s apartment in Mount Street.”

That’s just one of the instances when Keith, whose solo albums, let’s face it, have eclipsed Jagger’s most shockingly, takes credit for authorship.

And then there’s the sex. He smartly refers to the Rolling Stones’ seminal era of partying, circa 1967, as “Peyton Place.” Let’s see if we can get this straight. Keith more or less steals beautiful Anita Pallenberg from bandmate Brian Jones. She also goes on to sleep with Mick. Simultaneously, Keith has a one-off with Mick’s girl, Marianne Faithfull.

Keith is just merciless about Mick, as you’ll see (here’s the full quote):

But, you know, while you were doing that, I was knocking Marianne, man. While you’re missing it, I’m kissing it. In fact, I had to leave the premises rather abruptly when the cat came back. Hey, it was our only time, hot and sweaty. We were just there in, as Mick calls it in Let Me Down Slow, the afterglow, my head nestled between those two beautiful jugs. And we heard his car drive up, and there was a big flurry, and I did one out the window, got my shoes, out the window through the garden, and I realised I’d left my socks. Well, he’s not the sort of guy to look for socks. Marianne and I still have this joke. She sends me messages: “I still can’t find your socks.”
Anita’s a gambler. But a gambler sometimes makes the wrong bets. The idea of status quo to Anita, in those days, was verboten. Everything must change. And we’re not married, we’re free, whatever. You’re free as long as you let me know what’s going on. Anyway, she had no fun with the tiny todger. I know he’s got an enormous pair of balls, but it doesn’t quite fill the gap, does it? It didn’t surprise me. In a way I kind of expected it. ”

Keith and Anita went on to have three kids together. One died in fancy; two are now adults. (Thanks to sharp-eyed readers for the correction!) Let’s hope everyone has a good sense of humor because with the exception of Brian Jones, they are still alive and very much kicking.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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