No doubt you’ve seen the Keith Richards story that exploded across the media on Tuesday — the one where the Rolling Stones guitarist told Britain’s New Musical Express that after the death and cremation of his father, Bert, in 2002, he mixed his dad’s ashes with some cocaine and snorted them up.
Clearly, this is one of the all-time great rock and roll stories. Unfortunately, it’s not true.
It seems to have been either a joke — one that sailed right over the NME interviewer’s head — or a misunderstanding of Richards’ famously hard-to-parse verbal style.
In any event, this dodgy quote was picked up by a horde of newspapers, wire services and TV and online outlets on both sides of the Atlantic, among them Reuters, Forbes, Google, Breitbart and the Drudge Report. And evidently, none of them attempted to confirm the story with a Richards representative.
MTV News took the novel step of contacting Richards’ manager, who responded with what sounded like a sigh, but was in fact an e-mail. The dad-snorting story, she explained, was, quote, “said in jest … [I] can’t believe anyone took [it] seriously.”
And now, this just in from Keith Richards himself, who says, “The complete story is lost in the usual slanting.” As for the actual use to which his father’s ashes were put, he said, “The truth of the matter is that I planted a sturdy English Oak. I took the … ashes [and sprinkled them beneath the tree], and he is now growing oak trees and he would love me for it!”
As for the ashes-and-cocaine-snorting story he told to the NME, Richards said, “I was trying to say how tight Bert and I were — that tight!
“I wouldn’t take cocaine at this point in my life,” he added, “unless I wished to commit suicide.”
[This story was originally published at 7:38 pm E.T. on 04.03.2007]