Several months ago, Keith Richards did a series of hilarious interviews on behalf of his latest solo album, Crosseyed Heart. Keith has been rich and famous for so many years, so he knows everyone and he’s probably gotten high with 75% of the music industry. While Keith’s thoughts on the state of music in the ‘60s and in today’s world were very interesting, I was also fascinated by the fact that Keith has truly survived so much and he’s come out as a somewhat healthy and happy 71-year-old dude. He doesn’t do hard drugs anymore, but he still likes to smoke a little weed. He loves his wife, he loves his son, he loves his grandchildren. He loves the work. We should all be so lucky, you know? Anyway, Keith gave an interview to GQ as part of their Men of the Year feature, and it’s a great piece. Some highlights:
He’s not interested in crowds of screaming girls: “I had enough of the screaming Mimis many years ago. But it was an interesting period, you’ve gotta say: 3,000 rabid females trying to tear your clothes off. But I can’t handle 3,000 at once.”
He only has a solo career because of Mick Jagger: “I only did my records because [Mick] wasn’t working with us,” he says. Mick’s hiatus from the Stones obviously rankles still. “[Jagger's solo work] had something to do with ego. He really had nothing to say. What did he have, two albums? She’s the Boss and Primitive Cool?… Have you listened to any of those records? … Nor have I. I’ll leave it at that. For me, I never thought of making records as a way of being famous or making a statement. I just want to make good records with good musicians, to play with the best and learn.”
His public caricature of a heroin-addict & drunk: “I guess it makes me chuckle in a way, to have this sort of split thing where on the one hand I’m just a musician who makes records, but I’ve also got this cartoon character, this extra guy riding around with me. In fact, I talk to him occasionally.”
The “We need to start worrying about what sort of world we are going to leave for Keith Richards” meme: “How kind of them. But you know, I’m not particularly that old. If I was 90 or a hundred, I would understand. To me, of course, it’s amusing, people think I’m every day—” He cycles through a dope-spree pantomime: smoking, snorting, needle-plunging. “People would be surprised how banal and usual and normal my life at home is. I take out the garbage. I feed the dogs. I bring up the kids.”
His son Marlon: “Of course it was hard on him, growing up like Gypsies, outlaws, nomads. No education. On the road. It’s amazing what kids can adapt to. It all comes out in the wash. And anyway, we didn’t really do anything that wrong. I mean, he could have grown up the son of health-nut freaks.”
He loves his three grandkids: “I don’t care how cool and hip and whatever you think you are. You get down the line, baby, what counts is family. This is what I did it for.”
He really did snort his father’s ashes: “Yes! I had him in a box in England. I bought this little oak sapling, my idea being that he was gonna fertilize the tree, but when I pulled the top off of the box, wafts of Dad landed on the table. And my dad knows I’d always liked my cocaine, a snort here and there. So I just… and had a line of Dad.”
What he’d like done with his own remains: “I suppose I’ll leave everyone a straw.”
Keith Richards, family man. Keith Richards, doting grandfather. Keith Richards, the guy who remembers to take out the trash. Do you believe it? I kind of do. I mean, who’s to say that the guy didn’t fry his brain long ago? But what’s left is still pretty interesting. He’s clever and bitchy and funny. And he probably adores his grandkids. Grandpa Keith is probably the one handing out candy bars and telling them to jump higher on the trampoline.
Photos courtesy of WENN.