Anita Pallenberg & Keith Richards in 1967 by Rex Features
“I was fascinated by her from what I thought was a safe distant. I thought certainly that Brian had got very lucky. I could never figure out how he got his hands on her. My first impression was of a woman who was very strong. I was right about that. Also an extremely bright woman, that’s one of the reasons she sparked me. Let alone that she was so entertaining and such a great beauty to look at. Very funny. Cosmopolitan beyond anyone I’d come across. She spoke three languages. She’d been here, she’d been there. It was very exotic, to me. I loved her spirit, even though she would instigate and turn the screw and manipulate. She wouldn’t let you off the hook for a minute. If I said, ‘That’s nice…’ she would say ‘Nice? I hate that word. Oh, stop being so fucking bourgeois.’ (…) Anita, sexy fucking bitch. One of the prime women in the world.” - Extract from Keith Richards autobiography Life, (2010)
John could be quite direct. The only rude thing I remember him saying to me was about my solo in the middle of “It’s All Over Now.” He thought it was crap. Maybe he got out the wrong side of the bed that day. OK, it certainly could have been better. But you disarmed the man. “Yeah, it wasn’t one of my best, John. Sorry. Sorry it jars, old boy. You can play it any fucking way you like.” But that he even bothered to listen meant that he was very interested. He was so open. In anybody else, this could be embarrassing. But John had this honesty in his eyes that made you go for him. Had an intensity too. He was a one-off. Like me. We were attracted to each other in a strange way. Definitely a two-alpha clash to start with.
- Keith Richards on his relationship with John Lennon
“To me — George was, always will be, above all, a real gentleman, in
the full meaning of the word. We both felt we held similar positions in our
respective bands, which formed a special, knowing bond between us. Let’s
hope he’s jamming with John.” — Keith Richards
The thing is, with the Beatles and us, it was a very friendly relationship. It was also very cannily worked out, because in those days singles were coming out every six, eight weeks. And we’d try and time it so that we didn’t clash. I remember John Lennon calling me up and saying, “Well, we’ve not finished mixing yet.” “We’ve got one ready to go.” “OK, you go first.”
I have never put the make on a girl in my life. I just don’t know how to do it. My instincts are always to leave it to the woman. Which is kind of weird, but I can’t pull the come-on bit: ‘Hey, baby, how you doing? Come on, let’s get it on’ and all of that. I’m tongue-tied. I suppose every woman I’ve been with, they’ve had to put the make on me. Meanwhile I’m putting the make on in a different way–by creating an aura of insufferable tension. Somebody has to do something.
We were in Amsterdam for a meeting. Mick and I weren’t on great terms at the time, but I said, c'mon, let’s go out. And I lent him the jacket I got married in. We got back to the hotel about five in the morning and Mick called up Charlie. I said, don’t call him, not at this hour.
But he did, and said, “Where’s my drummer?” No answer. –when, about twenty minutes later, there was a knock at the door. There was Charlie Watts, Savile Row suit, perfectly dressed, tie, shaved, the whole fucking bit. I could smell the cologne!
I opened the door and he didn’t even look at me, he walked straight past me, got hold of Mick and said, “Never call me your drummer again."
Then he hauled him up by the lapels of my jacket and gave him a right hook. Mick fell back onto a silver platter of smoked salmon on the table and began to slide towards the open window and the canal below it.
“And then I think we realized, like any young guys, that blues are not learned in a monastery. You’ve got to go out there and get your heart broke and then come back and then you can sing the blues.” ― Keith Richards, Life
I grew up listening to really good music, including a little bit of Mozart and Bach in the background, which I found very over my head at the time, but I soaked it up. I was basically a musical sponge. And I was just fascinated by watching people play music. If they were in the street I’d gravitate towards it, a piano player in the pub, whatever it was. My ears were picking it up note for note. Didn’t matter if it was out of tune, there were notes happening, there were rhythms and harmonies, and they would start zooming around in my ears. It was very like a drug. In fact a far bigger drug than smack. I could kick smack; I couldn’t kick music. One note leads to another, and you never know quite what’s going to come next, and you don’t want to. It’s like walking on a beautiful tightrope.
you know what is a life goal? having in your life this one person who will be just your ‘’best best fucking friend” but even if you’ll be in a union someday everyone will know it’s just a blind ‘cause your real other half is your ‘’just best best friend’’. like Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, like Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. this is a life goal
We have different ideas about religion. I’ve never found heaven, for example, a particularly interesting place to go. In fact, I take the view that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t bother to spring for two joints–heaven and hell. They’re the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mummy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and a kiss and play your harps. Hell is the same place–no fire and brimstone–but they just all pass by and don’t see you. There’s nothing, no recognition. You’re waving, ‘It’s me, your father,’ but you’re invisible. You’re on a cloud, you’ve got your harp, but you can’t play with nobody because they don’t see you. That’s hell.
The tears that have been on this shoulder from Jerry Hall, from Bianca, from Marianne, Chrissie Shrimpton… They’ve ruined so many shirts of mine. And they ask me what to do! How the hell do I know? I don’t fuck him! I had Jerry Hall come to me one day with this note from some other chick that was written backwards–really good code, Mick!–“I’ll be your mistress forever.” And all you had to do was hold it up to a mirror to read it. “Oh, what a bastard that guy is.” And I’m in the most unlikely role of consoler, “Uncle Keith.” It’s a side a lot of people don’t connect with me.
- Keith Richards on Mick Jagger and the women in his life