Many times throughout life I’ve experienced a moment or dozen where I’m confronted with something that must be dealt with—you run into your ex, the cops stop you, your guitarist is found dead in a pool (OK, that last one’s never happened to me)—and in that brief nanosecond in which fear, confusion and anger all flood my system, I’ve always reached down and thought one thing to get me through—what would Keith do?

Now, I need not improvise when life’s little snafus arise—and neither do you. The legend, the icon, the Man, Keith Richards has released his much ballyhooed book, Life. And with it, comes many, many lessons from the Rolling Stones’ invincible guitarist.

And so now, I present an uncompromising guide to situations in life according to “Keef” fucking Richards. Print it out, laminate it, put it in your wallet. You’ll never stray again.


Is your plane going down? “I was seen going to the back of the plane and consuming substances with more than usual dedication as we tossed about the skies, not wanting to waste.”

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Are you hanging out with someone cooler than you? “There was that amazing feeling of, wow, I’m actually in a dressing room with Little Richard. One part of you is the fan, ‘Oh, my God,’ and the other part of you is ‘You’re here with the man and now you better be a man.’ ”

Need to justify that one-night stand? “Sometimes that little hug and kiss and nothing else happens. Just keep me warm for the night, just hold on to each other when times are hard, times are rough…Liking is sometimes better than loving.”

Need to know when to shut up? “The first time I stared into the gun barrel was in the men’s room of the Civic Auditorium (I believe) in Omaha, Nebraska. It was in the fist of a big grizzled cop. I was with Brian, backstage at a sound check. We used to drink Scotch and Coke…I was about to ask how he knew we were drinking booze but thought better of it. We had another bottle in the dressing room.”

Should you shag your mate’s chick? “So, Anita made the first move. I just could not put the make on my friend’s girl, even though he’d [Brian Jones] become an asshole, to Anita too…Anita and I looked at each other and the tension was so high in the backseat, the next thing I know she’s giving me a blow job…When you get laid with Anita Pallenberg for the first time, you remember things.”

Is your mate shagging your chick? “I didn’t find out for ages about Mick [Jagger] and Anita, but I smelled it…But you know, while you were doing that, I was knocking Marianne [Faithfull], man.”


LOVE KEITH AND THE STONES? You might be interested in new books about Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan.


Waiting for that court date? “It would be better to find somewhere where we could get legal drugs. It was one of those sudden thing, ‘Let’s jump in the Bentley and go to Morocco.’ ”

Need to evade the Tax Man? “Sit in England and they’d give us a penny out of every pound we earned? We had no desire to be closed down. And so we upped and went to France.”

Need to score some coke in the bathroom? “I’m taking a leak and in the next cubicle I hear sniffing. ‘Keep it down,’ I say, ‘or break it out.’ ”

Need to kick heroin? “I can’t imagine what other people think cold turkey is like. It is fucking awful. On the scale of things, it’s better than having your leg blown off in the trenches. It’s better than starving to death. But you don’t want to go there.”

Is Hugh Hefner letting you crash at his pad? “We were there for over a week. And it’s all plunges in the sauna, and the Bunnies, and basically it’s a whorehouse, which I really don’t like. The memory, however, is very, very hazy. I know we did have some fun there. I know we ripped it up.”

Did you have fun last night? “The ultimate party, if it’s any good, you can’t remember it. You get these brief vignettes of what you did.  ‘Oh, you don’t remember shooting the gun? Pull up the carpet, look at those holes, man.’ ”

Is a poncy literary figure ruining your good time? “Motherfucker needed a lesson. I mean, this snooty New York attitude…I remember, back at the hotel, kicking Truman’s [Capote] door. I’d splattered it with ketchup I’d picked up off a trolley. Come out, you old queen. What are you doing round here? You want cold blood? You’re on the road now, Truby!”

Need to talk about an egomaniacal tyrant of a lead singer while he’s in the room? “It was the beginning of the ’80s when Mick started to become unbearable. That’s when he became Brenda…We’d be talking about ‘that bitch Brenda’ with him in the room, and he wouldn’t know.”

Need to remain relevant after your band puts out over two decades of mediocre-to-crap albums? “It wasn’t Mick any more than the rest of us who conceived these megatours: Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge, Bridges to Babylon, Forty Licks, A Bigger Bang—these great traveling shows that keep us on the road for many months at time from 1989 to 2006. It was basically public demand that expanded them to this size…You asked for it; you got it.”

Keith Richards’ Life hits bookstores this week. For more books about rock 'n' roll debauchery and so on, click here.


Pub info:


Keith Richards with James Fox

Little, Brown / Oct. 26, 2010 / 9780316034388 / $29.99