Friday, March 31, 2017

Wicked Cool Minute #6 - A Pirate's "Life" for Keef

"Life" by Keith Richards
Oh how I wish that John Lennon had written a memoir like this.
Keith Richards (aka "Keef"), completely exposes himself in his autobiography, "Life," which was published in 2010. In typical Richards fashion, he entertains you with his crass, abrupt, non-PC, fall on the floor funny stories which were probably more entertaining than seeing a Stones show. Written like a true swamp rat, Richards displays his intelligence (which may surprise readers,) unpredictable sensitivity and wicked sense of humor. My husband gave me the book for Christmas and he expressed that perhaps I'd like to read about another band.... I wasn't really too sure about that until I began reading "Keef's" pirate stories and I was "hooked."

The Rolling Stones
The very obvious theme throughout the book is that Keith Richards plays by his own rules. Rock and Roll, Baby. The very intricate details he recalls during the days of his worst chemical addiction conjured the image of a warped James Bond movie. I pictured Keith Richards (as himself,) setting up specific plans to get drugs and intricate escape routes from coppers all over the world. The events developed into vivid and rollicking stories.  Richards, admits he grew up "across the tracks" in meager environs, eventually residing in mansions and castles, but still feels like he's living "across the tracks." I chuckled over the fact that he named his massive home in Connecticut:  Camelot Costalot. He has a complete story to tell: co-founding the Rolling Stones and band the X-Pensive Winos, jamming with his idols, marrying a supermodel, having children and losing friends. He reflects upon these memories quite poignantly.
Chuck Berry and Keith Richards
I often read quizzes which question which band was better, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Well, you can't compare the two. In an honest musical manner that is.  Yes, they are both from England and most of the musicians were from meager backgrounds, and both bands launched the British Invasion. But the apples and oranges comparison can not be debated because both bands created different styles of rock and roll, which were trailblazing. In short, The Stones were a raw, dirty blues band and The Beatles were clean and innovative.
Edgy and direct, Keith Richards extends a wavering middle finger as he shares his stories of "Life."  He stated that he always gets asked why he doesn't retire and he responds by saying that he doesn't do it for anyone or for the money. He is doing it for Keith. I was a little sad when the tale was finished, and I highly recommend the story to you all.
*It is my suggestion that only very mature audiences take in the nearly 600-page book. While I found the shock value highly entertaining, I believe that the rock and roll images should be read by mature folks. He will disclaim many times throughout the book that he in no way condones the behavior...and he also falls back on the "that's rock and roll" bit quite often.
I enjoyed the hours hanging out with Mr. Richards. I found his honesty to be the tragic formation of the man he is today. Richards IS the ultimate storytelling pirate. Of all time.


1) Keith was a Boy Scout. He states that one of the best things that happened to him as a youth, was being a member of the Seventh Dartford Scouts, Beaver Patrol (imagine that);

2) Keith was bullied in school, which explains his raucous behavior later in life (See also item #7);

3)  In 1955 he performed at St. Margaret's Church in Westminster Abbey, in front of the queen. His school choir was winning national level competitions and Keith was one of the three sopranos, they were "the stars." He thrived in that role, but when the boys experienced the adolescent Peter Brady voice change, they were kicked to the curb (which made him quite bitter, See also item #7);

4) As a young boy, he had two pets:  a cat and a mouse. Gladys, the little white mouse, would go to school in his trouser pocket; he would talk to her and feed her throughout the day; shake out the droppings in the evening;

Marlon, Keith, Angela & Keith's mum, Doris
5) He had three children with his first partner Anita Pallenberg:  Marlon (named after Marlon Brando); Dandelion (Dandy)  - named at Anita's request, but the Catholic hospital insisted on giving the baby a "proper" name, so they named her "Angela" -  and Tara, a son that died of crib death at 2 months. He also has two daughters with his wife Patti Hansen;   

6) He was addicted to music after hearing "Heartbreak Hotel" -- "I could kick smack; I couldn't kick music." He holds great respect for blues and early rock and roll musicians;

7) Engages in his big rules of knife fighting: (a) do not try it at home; (b) never, ever use the blade. The blade is only to distract the opponent and while he stares at the blade, you kick him to kingdom come;

8) When he was at an all-time low, he would buy doctor and nurse play sets from FAO Schwarz and utilize the objects for his drug habit;   

9) Keith was found guilty on drug charges in Canada and instead of incarceration, the judge ordered firstly, treatment, and secondly, the band must perform a concert for the blind. Apparently, a fan who was blind had followed the Stones everywhere on the road and Keith called her his blind angel and made sure that she was fed and safely transported. She testified on his behalf in Canada, therefore, creating the option for the punishment; 

Keith and Gram
10)  He considered two men to have been the most pure musicians he ever knew:  Gram Parsons and John Lennon.
John and Keith

Check out Keith's band, which I think is pretty rockin':


Because I know you want to read more about the Fabs, I highly recommend this book by Gene Flanagan, " The Beatles, God and Caroline," which is a touching story told by a life-long Beatles fan. After a chance encounter with former U.S. Manager of the Beatles Apple Records, Ken Mansfield, Flanagan experienced a change of heart. The book is an "upbeat," inspiring story that will leave you smiling.


I will be giving a program titled "Heartbreak Hotel" on Sunday, April 30, at the Ohio Township Public Library (Newburgh, IN) - here's more info:

Peace and Love,
Lanea Stagg
Recipe Records Cookbook
Evansville, Indiana
Radio Show:     Recipe Records
Twitter:  @RecipeRecords and @LaneaStagg

*Food for Thought*Food for the Soul*Food for the Love of Rock & Roll*

1 comment:

Rokcentral said...

Great post on Keef's book, Life. I too, was disappointed when it ended. He is the original rock and roll pirate, and he's still around to tell about it! Loved your review and the Keith facts. It's only rock and roll, but I like it!