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Time Is On His Side: At 75, Keith Richards In His Own Words

In his 7.5 decades, Richards has come up with tons of tasty licks – and tasty quotes.

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For better or worse, 2018 is the year some of the biggest stars from rock ‘n’ roll’s golden age officially entered their golden years.

On July 26, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger turned 75. On September 6, Pink Floyd co-founder and bassist Roger Waters reached the same milestone.

And today, though back in the ’70s he probably wasn’t a betting favorite in Vegas to make it this long back, Stones guitarist Keith Richards is hitting the big 7-5 as well.

A somewhat incredible feat considering a respected publication like the BBC ran a piece entitled “Who, What, Why: How is Keith Richards still alive?” … more than eight years ago. (An addiction expert concluded Richards owed his longevity to having “the constitution of an ox.”)

Known for memorable riffs as well as notable quips, Richards has made it 7.5 decades on the planet, so we’ve rounded up 15 of the best quotes he’s given while on it.

He may not remember saying ’em, but maybe you will.

1 – On snorting his father’s ashes as if they were cocaine: “I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared, he didn’t give a shit. It went down pretty well, and I’m still alive … I had him in a box in England. I bought this little oak sapling, my idea being that he was gonna fertilize the tree, but when I pulled the top off of the box, wafts of Dad landed on the table. And my dad knows I’d always liked my cocaine, a snort here and there. So I just had a line of dad.”

Guitarist Ron Wood (l-r), singer Mick Jagger, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarist Keith Richards on stage at a concert by the Rolling Stones during their European tour “no filter” at the Mercedes Benz-Arena. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

2 – On his distinct style: “I think most of the reason that people think I have style is because I wear my old lady’s clothes. I’ve always done that- ‘Oh, he’s so stylish!’ Patti and I wear the same size, so I take this one and this one.”

3 – On what he thinks of Donald Trump: “I do find him refreshing. He’s cut through a lot of crap, and eventually … well, can you imagine President Trump? The worst nightmare. But we can’t say that. Because it could happen. This is one of the wonders of this country. Who would’ve thought Ronald Reagan could be president?”

Photo of Keith Richards in the 1970s. (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

4 – On how “Satisfaction” came to be: “I wish all the songs could come this way, you know, where you just dream them, and then the next morning, there they are, presented to you. But “Satisfaction” was that sort of miracle that took place. I had a – I had one of the first little cassette players, you know, Norelco, Philips, same thing, really. But it was a fascinating little machine to me, a cassette player that you could actually just lay ideas down and, you know, wherever you were. I set the machine up, and I put in a fresh tape. I go to bed as usual with my guitar, and I wake up the next morning, I see that the tape is run to the very end. And I think, well, I didn’t do anything, you know? I said, maybe I hit a button while I was asleep, you know? So I put it back to the beginning and pushed play and there, in some sort of ghostly version, is (singing) da, da, da, da, da – I can’t get no satisfaction. And so there was a whole verse of it. I won’t bore you with it all. But – and after that, there’s, you know, 40 minutes of me snoring.”

5 – On what America has given to him: “The greatest gift America gave, to me, was its music. Because it was a hybrid, immigrant-loaded community where everybody’s stuff came together. To me, that’s the real beauty of what America is capable of. It gave people music. The whole world listens to American music and maybe that coincided because of recording. Recording is an amazing thing. It’s all built to capture a sound here and a sound there, but what it can capture is spontaneity, emotion, tears and laughter, and everything else and can all be translated via recording. And to me that’s why I loved America! The chewing gum I never even got, but the music I got. That’s what intrigued me.”

6 – On how he ended up with a pierced ear: “Well, the cat who was doing it – a jeweler or he studied it – was on about 15 Mandrax. Very stoned. Doing it the good old-fashioned way. None of your anesthetics and machinery. With a sewing needle and ice. Me next. Rubs the ice on and he’s dodging back and forth. God knows how he managed to do it. And he just made it. It’s right at the lobe. I’ve always wanted a pierced ear. I made me first bottleneck and had me ear pierced the same night, with about 15 of the Living Theatre and I was about the fourth ear. He did Anita’s too, at a special angle. By then he had another 10 Mandrax and was completely out of it. Try it from the front. No, let’s go at it from the back.”

7 – On giving up drinking (except for an occasional beer or glass of wine): “It’s been about a year now. I pulled the plug on it. I got fed up with it. It was time to quit. Just like all the other stuff. But I don’t notice any difference really – except for I don’t drink. I wasn’t feeling [right]. I’ve done it. I didn’t want that anymore.”

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones poses for a portrait at his rented Bel Air home on June 21, 1970 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ed Caraeff/Getty Images)

8 – On the importance of being real and transparent about who you are: “There’s always this thing in show business: you have an ‘image,’ and you play it to the hilt, but you’re not really like that ‘in my private life,’ et cetera. In other words, it’s an act. And maybe for them that’s okay. But for myself, what I do, I’m too intense about it … To me, the main thing about living on this planet is to know who the hell you are and to be real about it. That’s the reason I’m still alive. The chart I was Number One on longest was the Next One to Kick the Bucket. I headed that chart longer than I ever did Records! [Laughs.] But to me, I never had any real doubt, because whatever it was I did, no matter how stupid or flamboyant or irresponsible it may have seemed from the outside – and I can understand it appearing like that – to me it’s always been very important to know what I’m made of, and what I’m capable of doing. And making sure that nobody else suffered in the process. And if they did. it would only be from a misconception of themselves, not of me.”

9 – On his star sign: “I’m Sagittarius, half-man, half-horse, with a license to sh-t in the street.”

10 – On where Mick Jagger would be if the two had never met: “Nowhere. He’d be just another wannabe. And so would I. There is an incredible chemistry with the Stones. I don’t want to analyze it. I don’t want to dickle in it. To me, Charlie Watts is the foundation of it all, because that’s what I work off of, and we’ve been doing it all our lives. Rolling Stones founder Ian Stewart- I must give my man Ian, and I think Charlie would agree, on a good day- it’s Ian Stewart’s band. We’re just keeping it together for him. It was his vision. It all comes from purity, you know which sounds really weird coming from me, right.”

11 – On the legacy of the ’60s: “People are still wondering what the hell happened in the ’60s. Most people who are still alive can’t remember. They were too high. It comes back occasionally … It was a strange time. Very volatile too. The war in Vietnam… When I first came here in ’64, ’65, playing for these young kids, and a few years later you got a letter from them from Saigon and all of a sudden their world has changed. One moment they’re little incipient rock and rollers. A year later, they’re slogging through the jungle with the Viet Cong, up to their necks in muck and bullets.”

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones performs live on stage at Twickenham Stadium during the ‘No Filter’ tour, on June 19, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

12 – On the Stones’ relationship with The Beatles: “You know, I think if you’re talking image-wise, we probably did make a sort of a decision to not be The Fab Four. They were different -basically differences between the bands. The Beatles were basically a vocal band. You know, they all sang, and one song, John would take the lead; another, Paul; another, George and sometimes Ringo, right. But our band set up totally differently with one frontman, one lead singer, right, and what I loved about it is that there’s an incredible difference in that way between the Beatles and ourselves. But at the same time, we were there at the same time, and, you know, you’re dealing with each other. And it was a very, very fruitful and great relationship between the Stones and The Beatles. It was very, very friendly. The competition thing didn’t come into it as far as we were concerned.”

13 – On turning down groupies: “We’re guys who’ve not really taken advantage of what we could have. Or what we could have done. It’s always been that it’s just too obviouslaughs I mean, the odd groupie here and there. Which we actually used to look upon as, uh, gas stations … ‘Uh, we’re in Cincinnati, so…we need to fill ‘er up a little.’ And the other thing about groupies, it wasn’t just boinkyboinky. They used to take_ care_ of you. They used to rub Vicks on your chest if you had a cold. Sometimes you’d never do anything. Sometimes they were just … nasty. Get my drift.”

14 – On hanging with Johnny Depp“It took me two years before I worked out who he was… then one day he was at dinner and I’m like ‘Whoa! Scissorhands!'”

15 – On what advice he’d offer to further generations: “Don’t do anything if there’s not joy in it, a sense of exhilaration. A day is a day, and each one is going bye-bye, and you’ve only got so many more in front of you. Friendship is probably one of the most important things in life. Apart from your immediate family, it’s about friends — the ability to make friends, the ability to forgive friends. And their ability to forgive you. It’s just the ability to enjoy other people’s company, really. Then you’ve got it all, man. The rest of it’s gravy.”