Today is a rock ‘n roll holiday. Keith Richards, the legendary lead guitarist for The Rolling Stones, is 71 years old. To celebrate that he’s inexplicably made it this far, let’s look back at the fascinating life of the legend. Warning: Reading this may lead to blackouts.
1. He snorted his father’s ashes.
The veracity of this story had been in question for years. In 2006, Keith claimed that he mixed his father’s ashes with cocaine and snorted them. Afterwards, his aides claimed that he was just kidding. Finally, though in 2010, when Keith released his memoir Life, he confirmed once and for all that he really did snort up his pops. Well, he didn’t get his reputation as one of the hardest partiers in rock for nothing.
2. He once fell out of a tree in Fiji.
In 2006, while vacationing in Fiji, Keith fell out of a coconut tree, and suffered a mild concussion. He was taken to a hospital in New Zealand. What’s really surprising about this story is that there’s a Keith Richards injury that didn’t involve drug use. Or maybe that’s how it happened in the first place…
3. “Jumping Jack Flash” was named after his gardener.
“Jumping Jack Flash” is one of the most beloved Stones songs ever, but what you might not know is that it was named after Keith’s gardener, Jack Dyer. Apparently, Mick Jagger saw him walking around the house, and wondered who it was, to which Keith responded “oh, that’s Jack. that’s Jumpin’ Jack.” And the inspiration took off from there.
4. Contrary to popular belief, he did not have all his blood removed.
This was one of the more enduring urban legends of rock. That Keith Richards had all of his drugged-out blood removed as a way of getting clean. But it’s not true. Keith would later explain that he was just joking when he said that, and well, people ran with it. Although the fact that this legend was so easy to believe says a lot about just how heavy Keith’s partying was during the Stones heyday.
5. He gave Mick Jagger the nickname “Brenda.”
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Life was how frank Richards was about his relationship with Mick Jagger. He spoke openly about how much the duo fought over the years. One amusing-if-a-bit-sexist anecdote was that he gave Mick the nickname “Brenda,” as a way of complaining about Mick when he was in the room. According to Keith, “we’d be complaining about that bitch Brenda” with Jagger right there. You can see why it took these two a bit of time to make up after the release of Life.