Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keith Richards

Keith Richards joined the group, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, which by 1963 became the Rolling Stones. The band made the British charts in 1964. By the late 1970s, he had developed a serious heroin habit and went to rehab. The Rolling Stones' next album, Some Girls (1978), was a huge success, selling 8 million copies. The band went on hiatus, but reunited for Steel Wheels in 1989.

Early Life
Musician, singer, songwriter. Born on December 18, 1943, in Dartford, England. Keith Richards is one of the driving forces behind the Rolling Stones, the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band." One early influence on the future rhythm guitarist was his grandfather, a musician and bandleader. Richards' mother, Doris, was also musical. Richards developed a passion for singing as a child, performing in choirs at school. Around the age of 10, he sang at the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 as part of a choir.

Richards' voice changed in his teens, and so did his interests. Around the age of 15, he got his first guitar as a present from his mother. Richards devoted much of his time to learning to play his instrument, teaching himself such songs as Elvis Presley's "That's All Right, Mama."

A poor student, Richards was expelled from Dartford Technical School for skipping school. The school's headmaster suggested Richards attend Sidcup Art School instead. But Richards continued his rebellious ways at Sidcup, spending more time working on his music than studying commercial art. While at art school, Richards met up with guitarist Dick Taylor, who was in a band with Mick Jagger. Richards knew Jagger when the boys were growing up in Dartford. Before long, Richards joined their group, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.

Aspiring Musician
All three members shared a love of American blues, and Richards especially found a lot of inspiration in the work of American rock 'n' roll great Chuck Berry. He bought himself an electric guitar and learned how to play some of Berry's hits, including "Maybelline."

The band focused mostly on creating a blues sound, and landed a few gigs. Jagger and Richards went to check out Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, an emerging blues group that often played at the Ealing Club. That night, the band was joined by an amazing guest guitarist, Brian Jones, who was using the stage name "Elmo Lewis" at the time.

Richards and Jagger were impressed by Jones, and the trio became roommates and bandmates as Jones tried to put together his own group. Their friend Dick Taylor and pianist Ian Stewart were also part of the early line-up of the Rollin' Stones in 1962.

The Rolling Stones
By the middle of the next year, the band had become the Rolling Stones and its line-up had changed, with Charlie Watts joining as its drummer. Taylor left the group, and was replaced by musician Bill Wyman. Stewart stayed on to serve as the Stones' road manager as well as a guest musician. Under the direction of their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones were marketed as a group of rough-and-tumble types.

The Rolling Stones made the British charts in 1964 with a cover version of Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now." That same year, Richards and the rest of the group toured the United States and had their first U.S. hit with "That Girl Belongs to Yesterday." More hits soon followed, including the chart-topping "Satisfaction" and "Paint It Black." At first, the band mostly recorded cover versions of other people's songs, but Richards and Jagger soon emerged as a powerful songwriting duo.

Personal Life
Many of the band members seemed to live up to their image as wild rockers, enjoying a hard-partying lifestyle. Richards' home in the English countryside was raided by police on February 12, 1967. In addition to Richards, Mick Jagger, Jagger's girlfriend Marianne Faithfull, and several others were in the home at the time. During their search, police officers found drug paraphernalia and some questionable substances. Both Jagger and Richards were tried and convicted for drug-related offenses, but their sentences were dropped on appeal. Richards would face several more drug-related arrests in the coming years.

After the departure of Brian Jones from the group in 1969, the Rolling Stones took on an even more rock-driven sound. Richards became a father for the first time in December of that that year, when girlfriend Anita Pallenberg gave birth to their son Marlon. The couple later welcomed a second child, a daughter named Dandelion (later known as Angela), in 1972. Their third child, a son named Tara, died several weeks after his birth in 1976.

By the late 1970s, Richards had developed a serious heroin habit. In 1977 he was busted with a large amount of the drug as well as some cocaine in Toronto, Canada. Facing a life sentence, Richards was allowed to travel to the United States to seek treatment for his addiction. The charge against him was reduced.

New Directions
Despite his struggles, Richards was able to get back to making music. The Rolling Stones' next album, Some Girls (1978), was a huge success, selling 8 million copies. Still, Richards battled with substance abuse and tensions within the band began to bubble over, especially between Richards and Jagger. They bickered while making albums and touring, going for long periods without speaking.

The future of the Rolling Stones seemed unclear, but Richards was definitely headed in a new direction in his personal life. In 1983, on his 40th birthday, Richards married model Patti Hansen. The couple would later have two daughters together, Theodora and Alexandra.

The Rolling Stones were mostly on hiatus for the mid-to-late 1980s as Jagger focused on his solo efforts. Working on his own, Richards released his first solo album, Talk Is Cheap (1988), which earned mostly positive reviews. His 1992 follow-up Main Offender failed to attract much attention.

Reuniting for Steel Wheels (1989), Richards and Jagger wrote most of the album together. Their recording was heralded by some as the bands' comeback. Their next studio recording, Voodoo Lounge (1994), was a solid seller as well. It made it to the No. 2 spot on the charts. For Bridges to Babylon (1997), the band sought to update their sound with such collaborators as the Dust Brothers.

Recent Work
The Rolling Stones' most recent studio recording, A Bigger Bang (2005), received many positive reviews and sold well despite having no breakout hit singles. To the support the record, the band went out on tour. Some of their 2006 dates had to be rescheduled after Richards suffered a head injury from falling out of a tree in Fiji. To treat the injury, he was required to undergo brain surgery. Richards made a full recovery, and resumed touring several weeks later. Richards has stated that he has given up drugs as a result of the brain surgery.

Richards made it to the big screen in 2007 with a small role in Pirates of Caribbean: At World's End. In the film, he played the father of Johnny Depp's popular pirate Captain Jack Sparrow—a character that drew inspiration in part from Richards. In October 2010 Richards released his autobiography, Life. The book revealed some surprises (such as he is an avid reader and owns a vast collection of literary works) as well as his reflections on his life as a rock star, his drug busts, the women in his life, his relationship with Mick Jagger.

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