Say It's Your Birthday: Keith Richards

A book all about the birthday boy.

Hail to the Keef. What's left to say about Keith Richards?

So much ink has been spilled trying to pin down the essence of the esteemed

gentleman that we won't presume to add to it. Instead, and by way of wishing

the Rolling Stones' guitarist a happy 52nd birthday, we offer a picture of

Keith Richards and his partner in crime Mick Jagger from the mid-'70s. It is

composed of words, but it captures the ying/yang of this great rock 'n' roll

partnership. The following can be found in Nick Kent's excellent book, The

Dark Stuff, which collects some of his best writing (see ATN issue 1.10,

Oct., for a review) .

"Those two were a regular case book study in

contrasts," wrote Kent. "In the flesh Jagger looked smaller and less impressive

than one might imagine, so he had to work any room that he entered. Which is to

say he had to flit around ceaselessly, wave his hands expressively a lot,

wiggle his bum a bit, chat with certain people while pointedly ignoring others.

He was constantly on the move, his body language like that of an over-indulged

eleven year old allowed to stay up late and show-off at this parent's dinner


But he'd only stay the center of attention until Keith Richards

walked into the room. At which time all eyes would shift to the guitarist and

pretty much stay that way until the rest of the evening. Keith wasn't what

you'd call a mingler. He'd lope into a room, often accompanied by a couple of

unsavory individuals who seemed destined to have their faces turning up on some

FBI wanted poster in the not-too-distant future, slumped down on a chair, turn

his back on the milling throng and glower a lot. Talk about drop-dead cool! I

thought he was just like Lee Marvin in The Commancheros, only with

better hair and a bad-ass pirate earring. There was also this doomed poetic

quality about him that Marianne Faithful pegged nicely when she talked about

'how if you're an over-imaginative schoolgirl whose read her Shelly and Byron,

well that's what Keith Richard's is.' This perfect vision of dammed youth. Even

though he's turning more and more into Count Dracula."

It's also the

birthday of Sam Andrews (Big Brother and the Holding Company), and Chas