It’s a milestone for one of my musical heroes.
On this day, 80 years ago, Keith Richards, the “Human Riff,” and musical soul of my favourite band of all-time, the Rolling Stones, was born, in England.
He’s a musical nomad, following his muse wherever it takes him, living his life on his terms, teaming up with one of the greatest frontmen of all-time (IMO), Mick Jagger (who turned 80 in July), to create some of the most enduring hits in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, from “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Sympathy for the Devil,” to “Miss You,” “Satisfaction,” and “Start Me Up.”
But it’s not just his guitar skills that have made Keith Richards an icon.
His legendary lifestyle – the parties, his notorious drug use, and run-ins with the law, have only added to his mystique, which paints him almost as a modern-day pirate.
Keef has pushed boundaries and challenges the generally-accepted rules of society, fully embracing the outlaw spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Through the ups and downs of his personal life, he has always remained true to his music, and his dedication to his craft is unquestionable. As he says, when it comes to the guitar, you never know it all – you’re always learning.
And we know he’ll never retire. The music flows through him too strongly.
Even when the Stones take a break, for various reasons, he does his own thing, and continues to create some fantastic music with his side band, the X-Pensive Winos.
Besides, he’s survived too much to stop now, having taken drug abuse to a whole new level, taking an amount of substances that would have (and did) kill many of his contemporaries, and he managed to come out the other side, more or less unscathed.
An interesting thing about Mr. Richards, is that unlike his bandmate Mick Jagger, a legendary lothario, for all the chaos in his personal life, Keith has been a faithful fellow, when it comes to his love life.
He spent many years with the late Anita Pallenberg having three children with her (sadly, one passed away as an infant).
And today, not only is Keith celebrating his 80th birthday, but he’s also celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary, after marrying model Patti Hansen back in 1983, a union that produced two daughters.
Throughout his career, Keith Richards has faced numerous challenges, including addiction, health issues, and the loss of family, friends and bandmates, including legendary Stones drummer Charlie Watts, in August of 2021.
But, Keef and the Stones forge ahead, continuing to tour and perform, showing no signs of slowing down.
He is the definition of a living legend, and as he hits 80, the legend and his influence continues to grow, and his music and wit continues to resonate with audiences and fellow musicians around the world.
Keith himself probably never expected to hit 80, and as he famously says at every concert, when he steps to the mic, “It’s good to be here… It’s good to be anywhere!”
As a Stones die-hard, who’s been lucky enough to see Keef and the Stones perform live on four occasions – 2005 in Calgary, twice at old Mosaic Stadium in Regina in October of 2006, and in Minneapolis, in June of 2015, I can only hope that they keep the journey going as long as possible!
Happy Birthday, Keith. Gold rings on you.