Tales of Rock – Special Report: Happy 76th Birthday, Keith Richards!

5 amazing things you didn’t know about Keith Richards

Rockstars always seem to be plagued by one of two afflictions. They either die at 27 and are shrouded in immortal legacy, or they are literally immortal and live forever. I’m not sure which one is worse but Keith Richards is definitely the latter.

Keith Richards is one of the mythologized characters in rock. From his whiskey swilling swagger to the endless hits and iconic look, Richards might as well be rock n’ roll incarnate.

In his 2010 autobiography, Life, co-written by music journalist James Fox, Richards reveals the details on a remarkable, if slightly drug-hazed existence. Many tales are downright unbelievable and make you wonder whether Keith Richards actually did all the stuff people say, if not more.

From the man with a face like a topographical world map and some of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time, these are 5 amazing facts about Keith Richards.

Keith Richards

The Rolling Stone that keeps on rolling, Keith Richards is still drinking, still partying and still making music. These are 5 amazing facts about his life.

5. Nothing better than Merck!

The Rolling Stones were in fine form on their legendary 1975 ‘Tour of the Americas’ with a hefty daily dose of sex, drugs, and violence. The special ingredient however, Merck cocaine.

In fact, the whole tour “was fuelled by Merck cocaine,” Richards wrote in his memoir, referring to an ultra-pure pharmaceutically manufactured form of the drug. “It was when we initiated the building of hideaways behind the speakers on the stage so that we could have lines between songs. One song, one bump was the rule between Ronnie and me.”

Keith also kept a liberal supply of heroin on stage that was cut into lines and hidden amid the amplifiers. If that wasn’t enough, Richards also had heroin-laced cigarettes – aka ‘dirty fags’ – for when he couldn’t wait until the end of a song.

The tour was running fairly smoothly until Richards and his cocaine supplier were arrested in Arkansas. Nonetheless they called in a few favours, paid a $162 bail, and were soon back on the road.

4. Berry Bites Back

As well as being a notorious fist fighter in his youth, Keith Richards has also received his fair share of lickings. The story goes that Richards was in the dressing room after one of Chuck Berry’s shows. “He went up to collect the money, I think. His guitar was laid out in its case like, ‘Aw, c’mon Keith,’ you know, ‘just a touch,’” Richards told Jimmy Fallon in 2014.

He couldn’t resist the allure of Berry’s iconic cherry Gibson ES-355 and, picking it up, began innocently strumming an E chord. Berry came in yelling, “Nobody touches my guitar” and promptly socked Richards in the kisser. As Richards joked to Fallon, “That’s one of Chuck’s biggest hits.”

3. Sleepless

Keith Richards claims to have written the guitar riff to Satisfaction in his sleep. While it’s not an uncommon occurrence, it’s made even more uncanny by the fact that Richards rarely slept.

Keith claimed to only sleep two nights per week on average during the Stones’ glory days. “This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes,” he notes.

Wether aided by drugs or not this is actually a common phenomenon for many of history’s greatest minds. Nikola Tesla was known to only sleep two hours per night, and Thomas Edison slept for three. Leonard da Vinci, its said, slept for approximately 1.5 hours per day, but did it in intervals of 15 minute naps every four hours.

Keith Richards’ personal record is 9 days without sleep while recording in a studio. At the end of the stint he, “fell asleep standing up, eventually … I was just putting another cassette back on the shelf, and I was feeling great, and I turned ’round and fell asleep. I fell against the edge of the speaker. Woke up in a pool of blood, wondering, ‘Is that claret?’”

2. Kneecaps

Keith Richards has been involved in countless drug busts and run-ins with the law. If there’s one thing you should learn though it’s that you don’t mess with Keith.

After the highly publicized Redlands drug raid in 1967, Richards nearly received a hefty year and a half prison sentence. In the wake he found out that is was the British tabloid, News of the World – which was shut down in 2011 after several phone tapping incidents – who tipped off the police.

The plot thickened when it surfaced that it was his long-time Belgian chauffeur who contacted the paper. Richards was seething with rage that his well-paid employee could be bought off by a tabloid.

Shortly afterwards the driver’s legs were mysteriously broken. Richards’ only answer, “As I heard it, he never walked again.”

1. The show was electric

Keith has flirted with death many times throughout his life. One call came closer than most however. On 3 December, 1965, while playing The Last Time in front of 5,000 fans at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California, his guitar touched his mic stand and a flame shot out as Keith fell to the ground unconscious.

Said attendee Mick Martin, “I literally saw Keith fly into the air backward. I thought he was dead. I was horrified. We all were.” Turns out Keith had suffered a severe shock from the electrical surge of the microphone.

He was carried out with oxygen tubes and rushed to the hospital. Richards looked back on it with laughter in the hospital say, “Well, they either wake up or they don’t.” Richards may have survived because of the thick soles in his suede Hush Puppies shoes. Rubber being an insulator they allowed no electricity to pass through, halting the charge. He was back onstage the next night.

All in all, an incredibly wild life and these tales are only the tip of the iceberg. Happy 76th birthday Keith! Long may you reign! I love you, man.


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The Happiest Single People I Know Follow This Dating Advice

If you’re single, you likely have no shortage of people offering you advice on your love life, from your mom to your well-meaning married friend who tells you that you need to “put yourself out there more” (never mind that she’s been with the same guy since she bumped into him at a Shins concert in 2004). But in my experience, the most valuable wisdom comes from my fellow single ladies, women of all ages who have been navigating dating in an era of apps, Insta-stalking and everything in between—and still manage to have a positive outlook.

Arrive First and Pay in Cash

“If you’re meeting an app match for the first time at a bar, arrive early and pay for your first drink in cash so you can make a quick exit if necessary. Sounds extreme, but if things go south, the last thing you want is to have to wait around to close your tab.”—Clara, 31

Think Beyond Grabbing Drinks

“Try dates that are more interactive activities than dinner, drinks or coffee. You can get to know another person more quickly by experiencing something together. Concerts, sporting events, comedy shows, museums and street fairs will give you plenty to talk about. One guy took me on a date to this sky slide thing in downtown L.A.. It was definitely a good icebreaker.”—Renée, 33

Don’t Give Up an Evening for Just Anyone

“Only give a second date to someone who’s proved that spending time with them is going to be better than being on the couch in your pajamas and a face mask.”—Erica, 29

Take Their Online Persona at Face Value

“If you’ve been messaging with someone and they’re not asking questions or putting any effort into meeting up, don’t assume they’ll be better in person. They’re showing you exactly what they’re capable of—which is nothing. You officially have permission to write them off.”—Adrienne, 36

Know When to Ignore Other People’s Advice

“I’ve been told so many times that it’s a numbers game; that more dates will get you closer to the relationship you’re looking for. Once I threw that conceit out the window, I became a much happier single person. Basically, what worked for one person, especially when it comes to dating apps, is their experience alone. And it’s OK if it may not be yours.”—Lauren, 35

Rethink Your Incentive

“Try to view dates as an excuse to go out and get a drink because you wanted to go out and get a drink anyway. If there are sparks, great; if not, you still got to check out that new bar you’ve been wondering about.”—Rachel, 27

Keep an Open Mind

“Go out with people who aren’t ‘your type.’ Attraction can come in many forms and someone who doesn’t tick certain boxes might surprise you in other ways.”—Camille, 32

Remember It Goes Both Ways

“Remember that a first date is also an opportunity for you to assess what the other person can bring to your life—not a challenge to win them over. It’s not a one-way street and it’s important to ask whether you like them and how they make you feel, not obsess as much about the other way around.—Anna, 34

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

“Don’t try to be ‘perfect’ at the expense of being authentic to who you are, and don’t dwell on any perceived missteps. The wording of a text isn’t going to matter to someone you actually connect with.”—Jade, 42

Channel Your Vacation Self

“When you’re on a date, try to channel the version of yourself you are on vacation. Think relaxed, spontaneous and open to new experiences as opposed to wary and skeptical. (On a related note, hitting the apps while you are on vacation is a fun way to get some local recommendations and exercise the dating muscle in a no-pressure situation.)”—Whitney, 38

Watch Out for Warning Signs

“Swipe left on anyone who uses critical language in their profile (e.g., ‘Don’t bring drama’ or ‘No basic girls’). Even if it’s not something that applies to you, it automatically reveals them to have biases and a negative attitude toward women and you’re better off not wasting your time.”—Jamie, 43

Give Yourself a Break

“Don’t feel guilty for deleting or not using the apps. Sometimes you need a break. And on a related note, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not dating enough: Self-care is important and if that means a few weeks of date-free evenings, so be it.”—Luisa, 24

Think of It as Life Experience

“Getting to know other people on this planet is interesting even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Sometimes dating can feel like a chore—try to change your perspective. At the very least, you might get a funny story out of it.”—Sarah, 35


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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