Mr. Rock ‘N Roll
"You have the sun, you have the moon, you have the air that you breathe - and you have the Rolling Stones!" Keith Richards.
Probably the greatest rhythm guitarist in rock & roll, Keith Richards is widely recognized as a hard-living guitarist for the legendary rock band The Rolling Stones (1960s-now). Alongside the band's co-founder Mick Jagger, Richards has been regarded as one of the greatest songwriting teams in the history of rock. They have penned a number of smash hits for The Rolling Stones, including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1965), "Get Off of My Cloud" (1965), "Paint It, Black" (1966), "Honky Tonk Women" (1969), "Brown Sugar" (1971), "Angie" (1973) and "Miss You" (1978). He also has gone solo and released two studio albums: Talk is Cheap (1988) and Main Offender (1992). He will also branch out in film and have a cameo role in the third installment of the swashbuckling movie Pirates of the Caribbean, as the father of Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow.
The British veteran guitarist, whose near-miraculous talent and phenomenal consumption of drugs and alcohol has been well documented, was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 (as a member of the Rolling Stones). He was also voted the 10th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Childhood and Family:
In Dartford, Kent, on the southern outskirts of London, Keith Richards was born on December 18, 1943, at the Livingstone Hospital. He is the only child of parents Bert, former electrical engineer and factory laborer, and Doris, who once demonstrated washing machines at the Dartford Co-op in England. His paternal grandparents were socialists and civic leaders while his maternal grandfather, Augustus Theodore Dupree, toured Britain as a jazz/big band musician. Born during the World War II and lived through German V-weapon attacks on the city, infant Keith and his family was forced to evacuate from their home during the Nazi bombing in 1944. When Keith was in college, his parents divorced, and he began estranged from his father until 1982.
Keith Richards, nicknamed Keef Riffhard or The Human Riff went to Westhill Infant's School and Wentworth County Primary School before attending Wilmington Grammar School for Boys. Because of his behavior problems, Keith then was expelled from school in 1959. The headmaster, who thought that Keith will be fit as an artist, suggested him to studied at Sidcup Art School.
Since the late 1960s, Richards had lived together with for about 12 years with bandmate Brian Jones' former girlfriend, model/actress Anita Pallenberg. They have three children: son Marlon (born in 1968), daughter Angela (born in 1972) and son Tara, who died suddenly just three weeks after birth (the official cause was SIDS). After breaking up with Pallenberg in 1979, Richards officially married Patti Hansen in December 1983. They have two daughters together: Theodora and Alexandra.
The Human Riff
"You don't start to play your guitar thinking you're going to be running an organization that will maybe generate millions." Keith Richards.
While attending primary school in 1951, Keith Richards first encountered and befriended with future Rolling Stones bandmate Mick Jagger. But three years later, they split up because they moved to different schools. Meanwhile, Richards, a huge fan of Roy Rogers, had already become attracted into music and once sang in a choir that performed for the Queen. The music beckoned then eyed American rock & roll and began learning to play guitar, with the early supervision from his musician grandfather.
At Sidcup Art School Richards met future Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor, who was joining a blues band with Jagger at that time. Subsequently, Richards and Jagger resumed their friendship and Richards joined Jagger’s band not long afterward. The band later transformed into the Rolling Stones and officially made their first on-stage performance in the summer of 1962.
Richards and Jagger has written original material for a number of hits of the Rolling Stones during 1964-1965, including "Tell Me" (#24 US), "Heart of Stone" (#19 US) and "The Last Time" (#1 UK; #9 US). And after spending some time to develop themselves into professional-quality songwriters, they managed to produce the band’s first massive hit, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Released in May 1965 in the United States, the single actually established the band, peaking at #1 worldwide. The song was featured on the American version of The Rolling Stones fourth US album (third album in the UK), Out of Our Heads, released in July of the same year. The next years, Richards and Jagger has became a great songwriter team, penned such #1 hits as "Get Off of My Cloud" (1965), "Paint It, Black" (1966) and "Honky Tonk Women" (1969).
Now achieving rock superstar status, the Rolling Stones gained much public attention. Richards, as a member of the supergroup, suffered his first drug bust in 1967 and sentenced to a year in prison. Ten years later in early 1977, Richards faced the most serious charges of his life when he was caught in possession of heroin in Toronto. But he managed to escape from serving jail time after he agreed to perform at an charity concert for the blind and enter drug rehabilitation in the US. Meanwhile, he kept writing songs alongside Jagger and spawned such hits as "Brown Sugar" (1971), "Tumbling Dice" (1972), "Angie" (1973), "Miss You" (1978) and "Start Me Up" (1981).
On October 3, 1988, Richards released his debut solo album, Talk Is Cheap. Richards wrote all the song with Steve Jordan, who had worked for The Rolling Stones' 1986 album, Dirty Work. It spawned the minor hit single and MTV favorite "Take It So Hard." The album, released under Virgin records, earned glowing reviews upon its release. It peaked at #37 in the UK and #24 in the US, where it went gold. Richards then got on a supporting tour which led to the production of the concert album, Live at the Hollywood Palladium, released on December 10, 1991 in the US and February 24, 1992 in the UK. Although it failed to chart, the album received good critic and became a fan favorite for Richards devotees. During that time, Richards reteamed with Jagger to write The Rolling Stones’ songs "Mixed Emotions" (1989), "Rock and a Hard Place" (1989) and "Highwire" (1991).
Richards released his second solo studio album, Main Offender, on October 19, 1992, in between The Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge projects. To date, Main Offender remains Richards' most recent offering as a solo artist. In this album, Richards reteamed with Steve Jordan in writing songs, adding Waddy Watchel to the mix both in composing and producing. Main Offender garnered another positive review, but failed to match the commercial success of Talk is Cheap. It only climbed to #45 in the UK and #99 in the US. Since then, Richards returned to recording exclusively with The Rolling Stones and put his solo career on an indefinite hiatus.
By this time, Richards and Jagger has written songs for The Rolling Stones, like "Love Is Strong" (1994), "Out of Tears" (1994), "Saint of Me" (1998) and "Don't Stop" (2002, UK). Since the new millennium, The Rolling Stones has added 4 albums to their discography: double compilation album Forty Licks (30 September 2002; UK #2; US #2; 4x Platinum), double live album Live Licks (1 November 2004; UK #38; US #50; Gold), A Bigger Bang (5 September 2005; UK #2; US #3; Platinum), and compilation album Rarities 1971-2003 (21 November 2005; UK #133; US #76).
On August 21, 2005, The Rolling Stones opened A Bigger Bang tour, which had made a record-shattering $162 million by the end of 2005. On February 1, 2006, they made their first concert at the Baltimore Arena since 1969. They also performed to the biggest audience of their career on February 18, 2006, when they played a free concert on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, in front of an estimated 1,500,000 audiences.
More recently, The Rolling Stones announced that they will take their upcoming concerts at Twickenham Stadium on August 20 and 22, 2006. They also made their first-ever performance in China on April 8, 2006. And after performing in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 18, 2006, the Stones took a month break before on board for the European Leg of their A Bigger Bang Tour. Richards, who was vacationing in Fiji, fell from a coconut tree and was rushed to hospital to undergo brain surgery on May 5, 2006 to relieve a blood clot. The A Bigger Bang Tour is due to restart in Milan, Italy on July 11, 2006 with Richards now having made a full recovery.
Richards will soon be seen on the big screen. He is lined up to have a cameo role as the swashbuckling father of the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), in the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The Jerry Bruckheimer’s movie is due to resume filming next month in California.