October 19, 2010
Revelations in Keith Richards’ new book, Life, might make people wonder how the group will ever be able to tour together again. The Rolling Stones guitarist comes across as a chap that dishes the dirt straight up and does not give a whole lot of thought about where the chips may fall. Perhaps he just does not care.
Despite his pubic image as a swaggering rock star with a history of heavy drug use, it seems as if Richards may be somewhat of a rarity in the rock world. There’s no doubt concerning his drug use through the years – something he readily admits in the new book. What sets Richards apart from others who, as Richards put it “died of fame,” is that he seems to be a man that knows his limitations when it comes to recreational drug use.
Delving into the reasons for his longevity after years of drug use, what he says makes a lot of sense and perfectly explains how he has managed to keep on going as other rock legends lost their lives to substance abuse.
Anyone can learn how to recognize the signs of drug addiction by reading articles and books dedicated on the subject.
“It’s not only the high quality of drugs I had that I attribute my survival to. I was very meticulous about how much I took. I’d never put more in to get a little higher. That’s where most people f*ck up on drugs. It’s the greed involved that never really affected me. People think once they’ve got this high, if they take some more they’re going to get a little higher. There’s no such thing. Especially with cocaine … Maybe that’s a measure of control and maybe I’m rare in that respect. Maybe there I have an advantage.”
Maybe Richards was just lucky. Maybe not. Greed is a very unforgiving master and has been the undoing of many an otherwise brilliant and successful individual – be it a mobster, a movie star or a rocker. Richards’ recognition of that truth may well be the reason he’s still among the living.
Richards is living proof that the Stones – himself in particular – had no problem honoring the “drugs” portion of the time honored cliché “Sex drugs and rock n’ roll.” He seems appears no less forthright when it comes to the “sex,” although he makes it clear that the early days of the group was much more about the work that it was about the women.
“We didn’t have any other interests in the world except how to keep the electricity going and how to nick a few things out of the supermarket for food. Women were third on the list. Electricity, food and then, hey, you got lucky. We needed to work together, we needed to rehearse, we needed to listen to music. It was a mania. Benedictines had nothing on us. Anybody that strayed from the nest to get laid, or tried to get laid, was a traitor … It was that kind of atmosphere, that kind of attitude we lived with. The women around were really quite peripheral,” Richards writes.
Even so, there’s still enough sexual scandal in the book to satisfy fans who delight in those kinds of revelations. Richards goes as far as claiming that frontman Mick Jagger suffers from a lack of substance in the manhood department. It’s a claim that’s rather vigorously denied by Jagger’s ex Jerry Hall, who spent 23 years as his main squeeze, but also accepted an invitation to be the new face of an erectile dysfunction campaign by Bayer HealthCare to promote a treatment for impotence shortly after she and Jagger split.
Other than the talk about Jagger’s reproductive abilities, Richards also reveals that their relationship has been anything but cozy for quite a time. Saying that he has not step foot in Jagger’s dressing room for 20 years, Richards seems to regret the way their long friendship dissolved.
“Sometime I think: ‘I miss my friend,’” Richards admits. “I wonder: ‘where did he go?’”
Despite their differences, there is still talk of another Stones tour. Although they may not care for one another’s company any longer, it seems that the two rock legends are still able to share a stage. Perhaps they’re just like the rest of us when it comes to getting a job done. You may despise that irritating guy in the next cubicle, but somehow the work gets done and the paychecks keep coming. Got to keep good on the table after all.
How could we end a piece about Keith Richards without bringing up the subject of drugs again. He’s been clean since 2006, but admitted recently that he’d be open to the idea of trying something new.
“I’ve given up everything now – which is a trip in itself…I’m just waiting for them to invent something more interesting, ha ha. I’m all ready to road-test it, when they do,” he says. I suspect he’d approach it with the same know-your-limitations attitude that appears to have kept him alive so long.
Dirty Harry would be impressed.