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You Say It's Your Birthday: Keith Richards

Today is birthday number 54 for legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith

Richards. The influence of Richards' solid blues guitar-playing is far-reaching

and his often controversial exploits have defined the wild and

woolly rock 'n' roll lifestyle. To try and capture Richards' lifetime of

highs and lows in two paragraphs is laughable.

The Rolling Stones are a major

part of the history of rock 'n' roll, starting with the British Invasion and

continuing straight through the slickly produced work of the Dust Brothers. The

Rolling Stones started calling themselves "The World's Greatest Rock &

Roll Band" in the '60s, and while many have tried to take the title, no one

has succeeded.

Everyone knows the songs: "Get Off Of My Cloud," "Satisfaction," "Sympathy

For The Devil," "Tumblin' Dice," "Gimme Shelter," "Jumpin' Jack Flash,"

"Honky Tonk Women," "Brown Sugar" and more. So much more. It's not that

Richards' style of playing has a distinctive sound like the guitar work of Eddie

Van

Halen, Tom Morello or Bo Diddley, it's that he has been remarkably committed

to blues-influenced guitar riffs, even on such

lesser-quality Rolling Stones songs as "Undercover of the Night" and

"Between a Rock and a Hard Place." Then there's the offstage Richards: the

drug busts, dating models and actresses, in-and-out of rehab, squabbling in

the press with his bandmates and competitors and more. So much more.

All that hard-livin' may have made Richards look a little bit older than the 54

years he's clocked on this planet, but he has most assuredly earned every

wrinkle. Look at it this way: Richards has been a Rolling Stone since he

was 19. It would have been difficult for him to turn out any other way.

Other birthdays: Sam Andrew (Big Brother and the Holding Company), 56;

Chas

Chandler (Animals), 59; Martha Johnson (Martha & The Muffins), 47; Geordie

(Killing Joke), 39; Greg D'Angelo (White Lion), 34; and DJ Lethal (House Of

Pain), 25.

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