Keith Richards: A Culture Show Special The Culture Show


Keith Richards: A Culture Show Special

To mark the publication of his autobiography, Keith Richards chats to Andrew Graham Dixon about his childhood in Dartford, his passion for music and the rise of the Rolling Stones.


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MUSIC: Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones.

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The Rolling Stones, the greatest rock band of all-time.

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And standing in the shadows, Keith Richards, the enigmatic, beating heart of the band.

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Part human riff, part sheer phenomenon,

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he exists, for me, on stage, caught between the spotlights, wielding his guitar like a weapon.

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Astonishing, other-worldly and, against all the odds, still alive.

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And now he's written the book many people thought he couldn't even remember, his autobiography, "Life".

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# Just around midnight

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# Brown sugar How come you dance so good? #

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MUSIC: Under My Thumb by The Rolling Stones.

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Keith, known as the man with

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five strings and nine lives, began his career on the London

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R&B scene in the early Sixties, a backroom blues fanatic, hypnotised by the sounds of black America.

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By the end of the decade, his style of guitar-playing had changed rock'n'roll forever.

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# Under my thumb the girl who once had me down... #

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The Sixties was an era of reinvention, and the Stones rode the wave of revolutionary change.

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They became an antidote to post-war oppression, the very embodiment of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll.

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For Keith, this was the decade that made the man.

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# She's under my thumb. #

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'So, I've read the book, but now I get to meet the man himself.'

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# Say it's all right. #

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You say, at one point, that image casts a long shadow.

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Slightly enigmatic, that.

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I take it to mean that all the images that have accumulated around you, you feel, have cast

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a shadow, and is this book a way of, as it were, coming out of the shadow of all the images of Keith Richards?

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I've always been looking forward,

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and then suddenly, "Oh yeah, a book, OK."

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But when you actually have to review your whole life and

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go through the process of it, you know...

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I don't know, everybody should try it.

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What I mean is, if I came to the book, which I did, not having met you, I came to the book with

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-the image of Keith Richards that I grew up with.

-Oh, that one.

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The saturnine, astonishing, vampire-like figure stalking the stage and then I'm reading the book,

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and I'm discovering that Keith Richards was once a choirboy who performed at Westminster Abbey.

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That Keith Richards was in the Boy Scouts. That's what I mean,

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-that suddenly you become a real person.

-I know.

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I mean, I loved being a choirboy. I was a very good soprano. But I...

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MUSIC: You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.

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But also it was my first experience of the pink slip.

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When the voice broke,

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I think it says it in the book, there were two other guys and we were all

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good sopranos and we had done some stuff around in London and sang for the Queen.

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You know, when you're 12 or something, that's a big deal.

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And also you got a free bus ride to London.

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Yeah, boys!

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But the way you put it in the book, you had this benevolent choirmaster,

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and then your voice broke and they sling you out.

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That seems to me to be a really important turning point in your life.

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That seemed to be the point where you decided that school

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and authority was not what you were going to follow.

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It probably was, and the more I thought about that...

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This is where the rebel got born.

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And I think it was just

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totally unfair treatment, as we were concerned.

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We sung our hearts out for this school, and then it was just like...

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the boot. And you think, "Oh, welcome to life." HE LAUGHS

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-CHOIR:

-# You can't always get what you want...

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# You can't always get what you want... #

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I wanted nothing to do with authority, I just found it all superfluous and unfair.

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DOOR SLAMS

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I find the beginning of the book very evocative of this London,

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or Dartford, almost on the suburban fringes of London.

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-Suburbs.

-You are growing up, and you describe it in very bleak terms.

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I suppose what I was trying to put across was that

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you were growing up in the residue of a huge World War, but you didn't know anything about it.

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It was just the way things were.

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You know, a bomb site here, and, "No, you can't have that, we don't have any ration tickets left."

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I mean, it wasn't unusual. You didn't feel hard done by, it was just the way it was.

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He was born in 1943, right slap in the middle of the war.

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He says that this has had a very profound effect on him.

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SIREN

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When he watches Second World War films, when he hears a siren, his hair stands up on end.

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And it must be to do with being hustled down to a shelter with his mum.

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It's a very powerful metaphor for me, in the book, that you say it

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was as if London was under fog, and you say it was also as if there was a fog between people.

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They couldn't express to each other. There was all this repression, pent up repression.

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Was music your way out of that?

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Yes, yes, it was.

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And, gratefully to my mum, who was a beautiful music freak and had incredible taste,

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I grew up listening to Sarah Vaughan,

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Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine and a little dash of Mozart here and there.

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It was a lovely wide range, and I would just soak this up without thinking.

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And we always had this soundtrack going on, which no doubt influenced me an awful lot.

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I always remember my mother saying,

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she'd be in the kitchen, cooking, and she would say, "Did you hear that Blue Note?"

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# I need your love so badly... #

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They were very close.

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He was an only child, and Doris was on his side.

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His father was a distant figure.

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Not much speech, not much talk.

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He said he loved his dad because he was his dad, but for no other reason.

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Right at the end of the book, he just tells a story about how his

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first good review came from Doris, that's the thing he remembers.

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When one day he was playing the guitar, as he used to,

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on the top of the stairs in the house in Dartford where he got the best acoustics he could get.

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And Doris said to him,

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"Is that you? I thought it was the radio."

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A big breakthrough moment.

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First review. First good review.

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# Well, since my baby left me

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# Well, I've found a new place to dwell

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# Well, it's down at the end of Lonely Street

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# At Heartbreak Hotel I'll be so lonely, baby... #

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You say that, at a certain point, whether it was a

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-day or an evening, you heard Elvis Presley's song, Heartbreak Hotel.

-Hmm-mm.

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And it was as if the world before you heard that song and the world after you heard that song weren't

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the same place. That somehow a new thing had opened up for you.

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In my mind the world went from black and white to technicolour.

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MUSIC: Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley

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There was a spark, yes. Suddenly I hear this music out of nowhere...

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It was suddenly as if everything had come into focus, you know?

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And that's all you wanted to do.

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As Britain dragged itself out of the economic mire of post-war austerity,

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an alternative pop culture opened up for the newly minted teen generation.

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Keith's continuing obsession with music

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meant another turning point was just around the corner.

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His academic life was not dazzling, it has to be said.

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He was almost going to be relegated to secondary modern,

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which is basically a preparation for manual work.

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But he was quite good at art, so he got to Sidcup Art School,

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and that was really where the guitar took over.

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I don't know how much art was done, but a helluva lot of guitar-playing was done.

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There was a space somewhere in art school.

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If you weren't doing your classes, it was music.

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David Bowie went there, Dick Taylor, who went into the Pretty Things.

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Charlie Watts was at Hornchurch School of Art.

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But there was a breeding ground of music that was going on.

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# Come on take a little walk with me Arlene... "

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Keith had a thing about Scotty Moore, who was Elvis' guitarist.

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That was what he was trying to emulate.

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And that was when everybody else was playing folky, bluesy, Leadbelly,

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San Francisco Bay blues.

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He was looked down on a bit.

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Rock'n'roll was not considered rather infra dig, in the art school, at that time.

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It wasn't sort of clever enough.

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It was to do with yobbos and dressing up as Teds.

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He had one foot in the Ted camp and another in the moddish camp.

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I remember every day I'd come in on the bus, and walking up Sidcup Hill

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would be this character in very tight jeans, slightly pointy shoes,

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a purple shirt, and if it was below about ten below,

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then he would possibly wear a Wrangler jacket.

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Either he had an inexhaustible supply of purple shirts, or it was a very well-worn one.

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# Sweet little sixteen

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# She's just got to have

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# About a half a million

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# Signed autographs

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Keith was a tremendous fan of Chuck Berry.

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When Jazz On A Summer's Day came out, a great documentary about

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the Newport Jazz Festival, Chuck Berry was in it,

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and Keith went to see it more than a dozen times just so he could see his hero.

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# O, Daddy, Daddy! #

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As it turned out, Keith wasn't the only Chuck Berry fan in Dartford.

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Michael Philip Jagger was an old classmate from primary school.

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They'd lived just one street apart as children

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but it was a chance meeting on a train that would reignite their interest in each other.

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BLUES HARMONICA

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All aboard!

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To find out that a guy you'd known that long, who you hadn't seen for that long,

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is actually focusing on exactly the same thing that you are, such a meeting of minds at the time.

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He had the records to prove it.

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He was on the train with the records, the Muddy Waters, the Best of Muddy Waters,

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Rocking at the Hops, Chuck Berry,

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and there was another... Newport, The Jazz - Blues Festival.

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And I'm looking at this guy and I'm, "I know you."

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And what you've got under your arm is worth robbing.

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-Was it, you're one of us.

-So, instead of robbing him, we talked

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and shared ideas and that's how it really came about.

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Keith joined Mick Jagger in Dick Taylor's band,

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Little Boy Blue And The Blue Boys.

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And together they began attending the jazz and blues nights at the Ealing Club.

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It was there that they came across a young slide guitarist called Brian Jones.

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By the autumn of '62, Brian, Mick and Keith would all be living under one roof.

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Edith Grove was the flat that Keith, Mick and Brian moved into.

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I went round a few times and it was the worst slum

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I've ever seen.

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It was absolutely incredible.

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Nobody knew whose bed was whose.

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Mostly they slept on the floor near the radiogram.

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They slept where they fell, as it were.

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Over the coldest winter in memory since 17-something.

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Tell me what you did that winter. It sounds extraordinary

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that you were playing records by people like Chuck Berry.

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Jimmy Reeves, Muddy Waters, Little Walter,

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Bobby Bland, BB King, Buddy Guy,

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Elmore James.

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Can I mention all the greats?

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We just studied them, day in, day out.

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With no heat. And no food most of the time!

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But at that age, you know, you can live off of nothing.

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What you have in this moment is an absolute obsession with music

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and this sponging in of all this stuff,

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from the Mississippi Delta, from Chicago and so on.

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So that, in a way, when they emerged,

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they did sound like black musicians.

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It was the authentic sound.

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# Everything is wrong since me and my baby parted

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# All day long I walked because I couldn't get my car started

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# Laid up on my job And I can't afford to check it

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# I wish somebody'd come along and run into it and wreck it, come on

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# Since me and my baby parted, come on

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# I can't get started, come on

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# I can't afford to check it

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# I wish somebody'd come along and run into it and wreck it... #

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'We had nothing to lose.

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'And we were playing and listening,'

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and our desire was to turn people on to the blues.

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And that was... You know, we didn't want nothing for it.

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We just wanted people to sort of say, woah!

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And then it started to happen.

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Suddenly, overnight almost, at the Ealing club, or the Richmond club,

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before they had made a recording, there were queues around the block.

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And it happened in the space of two or three weeks.

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First you had these little groups of aficionados coming to hear R'n'B,

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people coming... R'n'B fans coming from the North to hear this new band.

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Before they had made a record.

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Suddenly they were doing this thing that Keith in his diary calls "wonging the pog,"

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which meant everyone going totally crazy.

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On those nights when they played, when they were starting,

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they played every Jimmy Reeves song they knew.

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They played every Muddy Waters song, every Howlin' Wolf song.

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They were just devotees beyond the call of sanity.

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It was just a fascinating journey.

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And presumptuous, of 18-year-old white kids from London

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to say, "We're going to be the best blues band in London."

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In retrospect, the ludicrous aim of all.

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But a very short retrospect,

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because almost as soon as you feel that you've got somewhere,

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you're on the TV

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-and you've got a hit record.

-I know...

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And, "Oh, what are we going to do now?" You were what, 20?

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When suddenly you are performing in front of what you describe as...

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-This is...

-..thousands of "feral" female teenagers.

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Oh, they were rabid.

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# I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be

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# You're gonna give your love to me

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# I'm gonna love you night and day

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# And well you know my love'll not fade away... #

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Decca Records, who'd missed out on signing the Beatles,

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jumped at the chance to secure the Stones.

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By the autumn of 1963, they were touring with their idols.

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By February '64, they had their first Top Ten hit with Not Fade Away.

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Stones mania was reaching fever pitch.

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These sets were very short. Now they do two hours or something like that.

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They were on for 20 minutes, maybe.

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And the riot was three hours.

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I don't know how to describe that thing. I mean...

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You're 18, you're playing your blues, you know...

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And within a matter of months,

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suddenly woman are trying to tear your clothes off.

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And in actual fact almost kill me a couple of times,

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and also killing themselves. They're jumping off of balconies.

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I'd be like, "This is not quite what I had in mind."

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-Could you hear yourself actually playing?

-Nah, nah, nah.

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Brian and I used to play Popeye the Sailor Man

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because nobody could hear anything. HUMS POPEYE TUNE

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They couldn't hear it, we couldn't hear it!

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SCREAMING

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# I said, the joint was rockin'

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# Goin' round and round

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# Yeah, reelin' and a-rockin'

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# What a crazy sound

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# And they never stop rockin'

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# Till the moon went down. #

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The only thing that you could hear, just shrieking teenage female...

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And it's very impressive.

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Especially in her body!

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# I said, the joint was rockin'

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# Goin' round and round... #

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I can handle one at a time, you know, but 3,000? Whoa!

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-What does that do to you as a person?

-I don't know.

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I'm still recovering, man!

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No longer blues purists, the Rolling Stones were now pop stars.

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So far, the band had only released covers,

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so manager Andrew Oldham now set Keith and Mick to work on writing their own songs.

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I found an interesting part of your book,

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you were talking about what you liked about your own music

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is that you said it's like a blank canvas.

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Well, if I could put it the same way as, er...

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If you're an author, a writer,

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and what do you have in front of you? A blank piece of paper.

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And then you have to say something.

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But in front of you, staring at you, is this blankness.

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And in musical terms, silence is the same thing.

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That is your canvas, silence.

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And it's what you do... over that silence.

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You don't want to obliterate it,

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because it can also, you can use it,

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because it becomes, like, the depth, or you know... It's...

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But somewhere you've got to make some noise over that silence.

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'It's almost intuitive.

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'You do it by feel, really, and instinct.'

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It's very compelling. It sucks me right in.

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I hear him playing and churnin' away on that thing,

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I want to get my horn and join in.

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Sounds like... It's like you hear a parade coming down the street, man,

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you want to rush out your door and see what's goin' on.

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'That ain't something you can just dial up at will.'

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You can't snort it, you can't smoke it,

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you can't rub it in your belly button. You know, it's just, very...

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organic. Ha-ha!

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-REPORTER:

-This year was the year of the mods and rockers and of the hooliganism,

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vandalism and fighting which often walked with them.

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This same senseless build up of endless disorder was repeated.

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After this early burst of success,

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this meant that you could then have an American tour.

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And you say that going to America, to you,

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felt like going to the promised land.

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Basically, this is where the music I was listening to,

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all the musicians that I listened to, this is where they were.

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They were in America.

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I was 3,000 closer miles to...

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Muddy Waters, to Chuck Berry.

0:23:020:23:06

Bo Diddley, Little Walter, Buddy Guy.

0:23:060:23:09

I was that much closer to the source,

0:23:090:23:12

and I think that's what I meant by saying "The promised land."

0:23:120:23:16

MUSIC: "Broken-Hearted Blues" by Buddy Guy

0:23:160:23:21

It was so exciting, and it was brand new.

0:23:440:23:46

It was like you'd been dumped in your favourite playground

0:23:460:23:49

and, OK, and you can go on forever. Until you drop.

0:23:490:23:54

We were just so interested.

0:23:540:23:57

We felt it was a gift, coming to America.

0:23:570:24:01

In our teenage minds.

0:24:010:24:03

I mean, suddenly to be transplanted from some wannabe,

0:24:030:24:11

and actually to play in America,

0:24:110:24:15

and they give you a bigger hand than you get at home.

0:24:150:24:17

And wow, there's areas to be explored we didn't even know about.

0:24:170:24:23

All we've heard is their recordings.

0:24:230:24:26

Now you meet the people.

0:24:260:24:28

# I put a tiger in your tank

0:24:280:24:31

# I put a tiger in your tank

0:24:320:24:34

# I put a tiger in your tank

0:24:360:24:39

# I put a tiger in your tank

0:24:400:24:42

# I don't care what they say

0:24:430:24:46

# I, I put a tiger in your tank. #

0:24:460:24:49

I mean, Muddy Waters, these guys were amazing.

0:24:530:24:57

They come from nowhere.

0:24:570:24:59

I don't come from somewhere,

0:24:590:25:02

but these guys come literally from nowhere.

0:25:020:25:04

And just by sheer force of talent and strength of character,

0:25:040:25:10

they laid something down.

0:25:120:25:14

I'm only a mere copy of it.

0:25:140:25:16

To me, you know?

0:25:160:25:19

# Well, baby used to stay out all night long

0:25:230:25:28

# She made me cry She done me wrong

0:25:280:25:33

# She hurt my eyes open, that's no lie

0:25:330:25:38

# Table's turning, now, her turn to cry

0:25:380:25:43

# Because I used to love her, but it's all over now. #

0:25:430:25:48

But when you're actually touring America,

0:25:480:25:51

the situation you seem to describe is one where, particularly outside, say, New York,

0:25:510:25:57

the main metropolitan centres,

0:25:570:25:59

you're being met with intense suspicion by ordinary white people.

0:25:590:26:06

And yet, when you cross over the tracks, as you put it,

0:26:060:26:09

among the black communities of America,

0:26:090:26:11

you're met with a very warm reception.

0:26:110:26:13

Very welcoming. I think maybe it was because of the music we were playing.

0:26:130:26:18

Our stuff is very grounded in black music, in blues,

0:26:180:26:22

and rhythm and blues.

0:26:220:26:24

And there was a certain reciprocation, a feeling

0:26:240:26:30

which to me was a great joy.

0:26:300:26:31

# I am the Little Red Rooster

0:26:460:26:49

# Too lazy to crow for day

0:26:490:26:52

# I am the Little Red Rooster

0:26:590:27:02

# Too lazy to crow for day

0:27:020:27:05

# Keep everything in the farmyard

0:27:150:27:18

# Upset in every way. #

0:27:180:27:22

A lot of those black musicians were not very well appreciated in commercial terms.

0:27:260:27:31

No, at that time, I mean, probably we resuscitated

0:27:310:27:34

several careers, just because we did some Muddy Waters.

0:27:340:27:40

Muddy, at the time, was not selling a lot of records.

0:27:400:27:44

I think the really extraordinary thing about getting to America for the Stones

0:27:440:27:49

was to get this inkling that a lot of white musicians had never heard black music

0:27:490:27:53

until they heard the Rolling Stones doing it.

0:27:530:27:56

So their contribution to the whole musical history

0:27:560:28:00

was actually to turn America on to its own music.

0:28:000:28:03

MUSIC: "Got My Mojo Working" by Muddy Waters

0:28:050:28:08

We grew into it, and the music grew into us.

0:28:260:28:31

And America changed rapidly in those, '64, '65.

0:28:310:28:38

It was another world.

0:28:380:28:39

America's capable of switching, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

0:28:390:28:44

America was to become Keith's spiritual home.

0:28:480:28:51

But his admiration for the black musicians of blues labels like Chess Records

0:28:510:28:55

proved to be out of step with a country still struggling with segregation and civil rights.

0:28:550:29:00

Black people should realise that freedom is something that they have when they're born.

0:29:000:29:05

We need an organisation that's ready and willing to take action.

0:29:050:29:08

Because we intend to fire our people up so much, until if they can't have their equal share in the house,

0:29:080:29:15

they'll burn it down.

0:29:150:29:17

CHEERING

0:29:170:29:19

Kind of dangerous.

0:29:260:29:28

Yeah.

0:29:280:29:29

But interesting, and I just happen to be there on that cusp.

0:29:290:29:33

And it was endlessly fascinating, you know, America.

0:29:330:29:36

After Dartford!

0:29:360:29:39

Above all are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

0:29:420:29:46

I looked through the list of the amount of tours that you did, between 62 and 67.

0:29:470:29:53

I mean it's astonishing number of tours.

0:29:530:29:56

Mostly by road.

0:29:560:29:58

But it must have taken its toll? Did it not take its toll?

0:29:590:30:03

Maybe I'm feeling it now, but I never felt, I'd have willingly paid the toll again.

0:30:030:30:08

They were on the road without stop for maybe four years,

0:30:080:30:12

64, 65, 66. 67 was the first year they actually got kind of a break.

0:30:120:30:18

Literally, there was no time off at all during that period. It was relentless.

0:30:180:30:23

After a show like this, you've got to go home and write lyrics,

0:30:230:30:27

because you have to keep the stuff coming out, or you die.

0:30:270:30:30

You kind of fall back. So they pumped out this staggering amount of material, it's just unbelievable.

0:30:300:30:37

The hallmark sound of the Stones was realised in the track Satisfaction,

0:30:370:30:42

their first international hit, which captured the attitude and velocity of the band

0:30:420:30:47

as they hurtled through the decade.

0:30:470:30:49

Satisfaction, as far as I can tell, you seem to have believed

0:30:510:30:54

that when you recorded it, what you'd recorded was a demo.

0:30:540:30:58

Yeah, it was to me.

0:30:580:30:59

And then, before you know it, it's actually been released,

0:30:590:31:03

because the pressure was so much on to produce in those early years. You've got to build....

0:31:030:31:07

And the pressure, and also maybe superfluous ideas of how it should go

0:31:070:31:12

were beyond our capabilities,

0:31:120:31:15

but that was what I consider the sketch.

0:31:150:31:18

It was actually it. It's like a Leonardo cartoon, you know?

0:31:180:31:24

How could he do cartoons?

0:31:240:31:26

But Andrew Oldham, in that respect, and the record company, were right. That's a hit.

0:31:260:31:32

So I'm on the road, and it's out, and I'm very happy it's a hit.

0:31:320:31:39

It was the biggest one, you know, whoa!

0:31:390:31:42

# I can't get no satisfaction

0:31:580:32:04

# I can't get no satisfaction

0:32:040:32:11

# Cos I try, and I try

0:32:110:32:13

# And I try, and I try

0:32:130:32:17

# I can't get no

0:32:170:32:19

# I can't get no

0:32:210:32:23

# When I'm driving in my car...#

0:32:250:32:27

It was born on a cassette player, pushed through a cassette player, and then re-recorded somehow

0:32:270:32:32

to make this crude sound, a sound which just completely took rock and roll to new levels,

0:32:320:32:39

changed the world and all that kind of thing.

0:32:390:32:42

# Can't get no

0:32:420:32:44

# No, no, no

0:32:460:32:47

# Hey, hey, hey

0:32:490:32:51

# That's what I say...#

0:32:520:32:53

For my mind, the da-daah da-da-daaah, that was supposed to be a horn section line.

0:32:530:32:59

Otis Redding got it totally, a few months later, and he did a great cover of it.

0:32:590:33:04

That was how I was hearing it, but at the same time, it wasn't the Stones.

0:33:040:33:09

# I can't get no

0:33:100:33:12

# I can't get no... #

0:33:140:33:16

I had it right the first time, and thank God we got it,

0:33:160:33:20

and kept the sketch, rather than doing the whole oil painting.

0:33:200:33:25

# I can't get no

0:33:280:33:30

# I can't get no...#

0:33:320:33:34

That was perfect, it was fabulous, it just felt it was your music.

0:33:340:33:37

And it wasn't high-minded protest, like the early Bob Dylan stuff.

0:33:370:33:44

It was what Bobby Keeter called 'balls to the wall rock and roll'. Great.

0:33:440:33:49

# No satisfaction. #

0:33:510:33:52

CHEERING

0:33:540:33:57

So, do you think, in a way, there was the pressure to create singles?

0:33:580:34:01

There was a great pressure, but in some ways, do you feel

0:34:010:34:05

that actually liberated you not to overwork your material and just to go with it?

0:34:050:34:10

They didn't give you the time for it.

0:34:100:34:12

I mean, I think I say in the book, we were all taking a big breath,

0:34:120:34:18

Satisfaction is number one around the world and we can't believe it.

0:34:180:34:23

"Yes," you know?

0:34:230:34:27

Meanwhile, there's a knock at the door going, "Where's the follow-up?"

0:34:270:34:31

# I live on an apartment On the 99th floor of my block

0:34:430:34:48

# And I sit at home Looking out the window

0:34:510:34:53

# Imagining the world has stopped

0:34:530:34:56

# Then in flies a guy All dressed up like a Union Jack

0:34:590:35:03

# And he says, I've won £5 If I have this kind of detergent pack

0:35:060:35:11

# I said, Hey! You! Get off of my cloud

0:35:130:35:18

# Hey! You! Get off of my cloud

0:35:180:35:21

# Hey! You! Get off of my cloud

0:35:210:35:26

# Don't hang around, boy Two's a crowd...#

0:35:260:35:29

But at one point in the book you say that what you want from a song,

0:35:290:35:32

I don't know if this is still true,

0:35:320:35:35

you say what you want from a song is not that it sounds like it was made in a studio,

0:35:350:35:39

but it sounds like it was made in a room.

0:35:390:35:41

True, yeah. I don't like big productions,

0:35:410:35:45

and, after all, with the Rolling Stones big productions are really out of the picture.

0:35:450:35:51

I have a very limited orchestra to work with.

0:35:510:35:56

Basically I've got to write with the idea of just four, five guys involved in this.

0:35:560:36:01

Anything else is your marzipan.

0:36:010:36:04

It's such a pleasure to be in the studio with them,

0:36:040:36:07

because they just gather around a microphone

0:36:070:36:12

and look at each other, and play whatever they want to play.

0:36:120:36:17

And some of it is the worst garbage you can imagine.

0:36:170:36:21

# Please let me introduce myself

0:36:590:37:03

# I'm a man of wealth and taste

0:37:030:37:07

# I've been around Many a long, long year

0:37:090:37:13

# Stole many a man's soul and faith...#

0:37:130:37:17

It's pretty remarkable that they were able to capture that on film.

0:37:170:37:22

This was a time when extraordinary things happened,

0:37:220:37:25

as in you really get to see

0:37:250:37:27

the creation of the track of Sympathy For The Devil.

0:37:270:37:31

# I lay traps for troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay

0:37:330:37:39

# Woo woo!

0:37:390:37:40

# Pleased to meet y'all now hope you guess my name

0:37:420:37:47

# Woo woo!

0:37:470:37:49

# What's puzzling you

0:37:490:37:52

# Is the nature of my game

0:37:520:37:56

# Yeah, get down...#

0:37:560:37:59

MUSIC: "Sympathy For The Devil by the Rolling Stones

0:37:590:38:04

The summer of 1967 was Keith's own summer of love.

0:38:170:38:20

He began a relationship with Brian Jones's girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg,

0:38:200:38:24

which was to have a profound impact on more than just the band dynamics.

0:38:240:38:29

Keith was reborn as a psychedelic sex symbol.

0:38:290:38:32

His image was to influence a generation.

0:38:320:38:34

In retrospect, history says that you were part of a change in consciousness,

0:38:370:38:42

you were part of a change in, for example,

0:38:420:38:44

how men express their sense of who they are, who they can be.

0:38:440:38:48

The way Mick sang, the way you dressed.

0:38:480:38:50

Did it feel like that at the time?

0:38:500:38:52

Did you feel like you were changing things at the time?

0:38:520:38:55

I don't think that you, in fairness,

0:38:550:38:59

are that aware of those perceptions at the time.

0:38:590:39:04

But I don't think it took us too long, slowly,

0:39:040:39:07

for us to realise... realise that...

0:39:070:39:11

that, yeah, you have something unique.

0:39:160:39:18

It's not me, and it's not the band,

0:39:180:39:21

it's just a unique meeting of cultures and...and time.

0:39:210:39:28

This could happen. The 60s were weird,

0:39:280:39:31

I basically think it's all to do with World War II,

0:39:310:39:35

it was just that generation bursting from that.

0:39:350:39:43

"Oh, forget about the war, please."

0:39:430:39:45

# Don't you worry about What's on your mind, oh my

0:40:030:40:07

# I'm in no hurry I can take my time, oh my

0:40:090:40:14

# I'm going red And my tongue's getting tied

0:40:170:40:20

# I'm off my head And my mouth's getting dry

0:40:230:40:26

# I'm high, But I try, try, try, oh my

0:40:260:40:30

# Let's spend the night together

0:40:300:40:33

# Now I need you more than ever

0:40:330:40:36

# Let's spend the night together now

0:40:360:40:40

# I feel so strong I can't disguise, oh my...#

0:40:460:40:50

Not only did he invent a new way to play the guitar,

0:40:500:40:53

he invented a new way to dress.

0:40:530:40:55

No-one had actually worn women's clothes like that,

0:40:550:40:58

like trophies, you know?

0:40:580:41:00

And his look on stage, you know?

0:41:050:41:07

He just had an intense thing about him,

0:41:070:41:10

he looked kind of like a bird of prey.

0:41:100:41:13

If you look at pictures of Keith at the beginning of 1967,

0:41:160:41:20

and at the end of 67,

0:41:200:41:24

it's almost like you're looking at two different people.

0:41:240:41:27

The face changes, deepens.

0:41:270:41:29

And you look at it and you realise,

0:41:290:41:31

stuff happened that year!

0:41:310:41:35

Talking about being sort of plugged into remarkable times,

0:41:430:41:47

there was a certain point when the story just does turn very dark.

0:41:470:41:53

Mm-hmm. Well, it depends on your idea of colour.

0:41:530:41:58

Yeah, yeah. We'll say dark.

0:42:010:42:02

It seems to happen sometime around 67, 68?

0:42:020:42:07

Errr...

0:42:090:42:11

Yeah, I would give that a good...

0:42:140:42:17

67, yeah. But I think it's very hard for me to discuss that period because,

0:42:190:42:26

not for any reason of not wanting to, it's just that we'd been working

0:42:260:42:31

non-stop, non-stop for four or five years,

0:42:310:42:34

and basically we'd pulled our string at that time,

0:42:340:42:40

just energy wise.

0:42:400:42:41

And at the same time that coincided with acid, and the psychedelic, hippy thing.

0:42:410:42:49

But obviously I was in full range of public view,

0:42:490:42:53

and in the raging glare of the CID.

0:42:530:42:59

All the teenage screaming and posturing vanished at the moment Judge Block passed sentence.

0:43:010:43:06

As he said sternly to Richard that the offence of which he had been found guilty

0:43:060:43:11

carried a maximum sentence of 10 years, there was a gasp of pure horror

0:43:110:43:14

from the youngsters crowded into the public gallery.

0:43:140:43:17

But there was a dead silence as the judge added, "You will go to prison for one year,

0:43:170:43:22

"and you will pay £500 towards the cost of the prosecution. Go down."

0:43:220:43:26

I'm one of the most famous drug addicts of all time. So they say.

0:43:260:43:32

I could have done better.

0:43:330:43:34

-I don't know what that would have involved!

-No, nor do I.

0:43:360:43:39

Richard, who earlier had talked in his evidence of what he called 'petty morals',

0:43:390:43:43

went down to the cells without expression.

0:43:430:43:46

A campaign against the harsh sentence succeeded,

0:43:460:43:50

and in the end, Keith spent just one night in prison.

0:43:500:43:53

Not much of a deterrent to his own escalating drug use.

0:43:530:43:58

Why was I doing heroin?

0:43:580:44:00

I think the reason I was taking it

0:44:000:44:03

was how to deal with fame and pressure.

0:44:030:44:06

And it's one way to run away.

0:44:070:44:09

And I ran away to the boppy.

0:44:090:44:12

I used it as a wall against me and fame, and the public bit.

0:44:380:44:45

I'm not really, you know...

0:44:500:44:52

..that way inclined to show off.

0:44:540:44:56

I'd have been quite happy to make all these records totally anonymously,

0:44:560:45:00

but then of course, I mean that's not possible.

0:45:000:45:03

You've got to get out there and put yourself out.

0:45:030:45:06

He found it horrific, I think. He says in the book, he didn't like being a pop star.

0:45:060:45:11

Doris, his mother, said, "Keith's a shy boy," and he hated that.

0:45:110:45:16

He felt she kind of betrayed him, but she had a point.

0:45:160:45:20

The big problem for Keith was not when he was playing or on tour,

0:45:200:45:24

it was after the tour, when the tour was over.

0:45:240:45:27

Coming down from this massive daily shot of adrenaline

0:45:270:45:31

of the kind that you and I would never experience in that kind of intensity.

0:45:310:45:37

The replacement was clearly, in his case, needed.

0:45:370:45:40

But there were other people around you, people you lost, people like Brian Jones, Gram Parsons,

0:45:400:45:46

who weren't able to, either they didn't have such a strong

0:45:460:45:52

constitution as you, or they didn't have the same mental attitude? I don't know.

0:45:520:45:57

Nor do I.

0:45:570:45:58

I'm not here to answer for my brothers.

0:45:580:46:02

I've lost a lot of good friends that way.

0:46:050:46:07

Brian's increasingly erratic behaviour culminated in him leaving the band in June, 1969.

0:46:160:46:23

By July, he was dead.

0:46:230:46:26

Yes, I wish some of my friends hadn't done that and overdone it.

0:46:400:46:44

You know, at the time, you just looked at it as par for the course.

0:46:480:46:53

Although it was a shock when it actually happened,

0:46:550:46:58

nobody was really that surprised. There are...

0:46:580:47:02

I'm sure that everybody's got those feelings... certain people...

0:47:020:47:05

everybody knows people that you just have that feeling about.

0:47:050:47:08

They're not going to be 70 years old, ever. You know.

0:47:080:47:13

Not everybody makes it, you know?

0:47:130:47:15

The Stones decided to go ahead with their free concert in Hyde Park just two days later.

0:47:200:47:25

They released hundreds of white butterflies as a tribute to Brian.

0:47:270:47:31

MUSIC: "Jumpin' Jack Flash"

0:47:310:47:33

More than 2,000 Negroes joined the rioting crowds who attacked white police and firemen.

0:47:380:47:42

The rioting raged for more three hours.

0:47:420:47:45

The fires blazed up in six shops and an apartment house.

0:47:450:47:50

The night sky of Alabama glowed red with the flames of racial strife.

0:47:500:47:55

# I was born in a cross-fire hurricane

0:47:550:47:59

# And I howled at my ma in the driving rain... #

0:48:020:48:06

Bombs in Vietnam explode at home.

0:48:100:48:13

They destroy the dream and possibility for a decent America.

0:48:130:48:20

# I'm Jumping Jack Flash It's a gas, gas, gas... #

0:48:200:48:24

This started with the '69 tour. We totally had no idea.

0:48:320:48:36

We were young. We were naive. We were in our 20s, and we were coming

0:48:360:48:40

into America and not realising the depth of the political...insanity.

0:48:400:48:48

As the '69 tour progressed, plans for its grand finale started to come together.

0:48:480:48:54

The Rolling Stones' free concert is going to be on tomorrow at the Altamont Speedway.

0:48:540:48:59

Apparently, it's one of the most difficult things in the world to give a free concert.

0:48:590:49:04

It's creating a sort of microcosmic society,

0:49:110:49:14

which it sets the example to the rest of America as to how one can behave in life's gatherings.

0:49:140:49:21

It was mayhem, and you wonder why...

0:49:210:49:23

this is what you want to do? This wasn't the idea.

0:49:230:49:27

You know, you wanted to play music, and people would go...

0:49:270:49:32

And suddenly, it's... It's another thing.

0:49:320:49:37

The brutality meted out by the Hell's Angels, naively hired by the band to provide security,

0:49:490:49:54

turned the concert into a horror show.

0:49:540:49:57

Brothers and sisters...

0:49:570:50:00

come on, now.

0:50:020:50:03

That means everybody just cool out.

0:50:030:50:05

Will you cool out, everybody.

0:50:080:50:11

Hopefully, nobody gets hurt that much, you know, but a lot of people did.

0:50:110:50:18

It just was a very embattled situation.

0:50:250:50:27

I think the best documentation of that

0:50:270:50:30

is the Maysles film Gimme Shelter because you just look at that, and you really see what it felt like.

0:50:300:50:36

This is Stefan Ponek, KSAN radio, San Francisco.

0:50:360:50:39

While the Rolling Stones' tour of the United States is over, it ended up with a concert

0:50:390:50:44

at the Altamont Speedway for more than 300,000 people.

0:50:440:50:46

There were four births, four deaths and an awful lot of scuffles reported.

0:50:460:50:51

We received word that someone was stabbed to death

0:50:510:50:54

in front of the stage by a member of the Hell's Angels.

0:50:540:50:57

Nothing is confirmed on that. We were there. We didn't see it, but we did see a lot.

0:50:570:51:01

We want to know now what you saw.

0:51:010:51:03

If Woodstock was the dream, then Altamont, only three months later, was the nightmare.

0:51:140:51:18

Who can say what killed the hippy idealism of the '60s,

0:51:180:51:21

but it was violence and regret that replaced it.

0:51:210:51:25

The end of the decade was a strange, troubled time.

0:51:280:51:30

But as the '60s went up in flames, the Rolling Stones played some of their greatest music.

0:51:300:51:36

MUSIC: "Gimme Shelter"

0:51:360:51:39

# Oh, a storm is threat'ning

0:51:470:51:50

# My very life today

0:51:500:51:53

# If I don't get some shelter

0:51:550:51:58

# Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

0:51:580:52:00

# War, children, it's just a shot away

0:52:030:52:07

# It's just a shot away

0:52:070:52:11

# War, children, it's just a shot away

0:52:110:52:16

# It's just a shot away.... #

0:52:160:52:19

The drugs couldn't get him, nor the police,

0:52:250:52:28

nor the crazy groupies, not even a near-fatal fall from a coconut tree could divert Keith from his destiny.

0:52:280:52:35

As the years have rolled by, it's the music that's remained centre stage,

0:52:350:52:39

music that's as influential today as it has ever been.

0:52:390:52:44

I think Keith is an innovator.

0:52:470:52:50

He's changed the way the electric guitar sounds.

0:52:500:52:52

He's made his own completely unique rock 'n' roll music.

0:52:520:52:56

I've played with a zillion guitar players.

0:53:060:53:09

In Nashville... can't swing a cat without hitting a guitar player here,

0:53:090:53:14

and I've never played with anyone that plays that guitar just like he does.

0:53:140:53:19

# Rape, murder.... #

0:53:220:53:25

I ain't getting all gushy and mushy about it, but the man's

0:53:260:53:29

got something inside him that is really special and unique.

0:53:290:53:33

I can see Keith playing until he, literally, until he falls over dead.

0:53:340:53:40

One of the things that comes out very strongly from the way you write

0:53:440:53:47

in the book is the joy of being in the moment of playing a song

0:53:470:53:52

and of people listening to the song.

0:53:520:53:54

And of the other band members performing the song and the song coming together.

0:53:540:53:58

I think if I take one thing from the whole book, it's that the best thing in your whole life is that.

0:53:580:54:05

-I mean, I might be wrong...

-Yeah, you've probably put the nail on the head there.

0:54:050:54:10

It's watching something little...

0:54:100:54:12

idea...

0:54:120:54:13

And just the way it's picked up.

0:54:150:54:17

It's something you had no hopes for, particularly.

0:54:170:54:20

You know, you just have ideas.

0:54:200:54:22

You say, oh, I've got this one, you know, and just to see the interaction of other people. But it's also that

0:54:220:54:31

very enforcing... of bringing the right guys together

0:54:310:54:35

and recognising their talent and what they have and... And even then making you realise that you have some, too.

0:54:350:54:43

Sometime I think, I'd throw out a piece of crap and "That's great!"

0:54:430:54:47

Then I'd suddenly realise, it's not so bad after all.

0:54:470:54:50

You know, the thing is... first off, they've got to turn the band on.

0:54:500:54:53

If I come up with a song or an idea and I play it and everybody's going around...

0:54:530:54:58

mmm...

0:54:580:55:00

21!

0:55:010:55:02

And they're playing cards and smoking, the song's not good, right?

0:55:020:55:06

And it never will be any good, at least in this band, you know, and so you just... you dump that.

0:55:060:55:14

You don't take it as an offence or you dump that and come up with another idea.

0:55:140:55:18

You have to throw it against this canvas of other guys.

0:55:180:55:21

And they're, like, the jury.

0:55:210:55:24

What's really interesting about Keith and the Rolling Stones is he was always, I mean,

0:55:240:55:28

and it was probably missed by the early stuff, he was the real musical driver behind this thing.

0:55:280:55:33

And the fact is, to this day, he is fiercely proud of the Rolling Stones and the music they produce.

0:55:330:55:39

MUSIC: "Jumpin' Jack Flash"

0:55:390:55:43

Keith's probably the least surprised of all the band that the Rolling Stones are still together.

0:55:530:55:58

After all, his template all along was the blues man of the Mississippi Delta still playing into their 80s.

0:55:580:56:04

# But it's all right now

0:56:060:56:09

# In fact it's a gas... #

0:56:090:56:11

And after almost 50 years, maybe they're just now hitting their stride.

0:56:110:56:14

# I'm Jumping Jack Flash It's a gas, gas, gas... #

0:56:150:56:19

I don't know what's kept the band together all these years because, by rights,

0:56:210:56:26

they should have broken up so many times

0:56:260:56:29

just because of the fights or the substances or the relationships or...

0:56:290:56:36

There were just so many things.

0:56:360:56:38

And it's... it just is really extraordinary.

0:56:380:56:41

I think it's just in the personality of Mick and Keith, really.

0:56:410:56:45

In the book, actually, I must say, I was expecting there might be a bit of rancour and vituperation.

0:56:450:56:53

What I was struck by that how extremely affectionate your criticisms of him are.

0:56:530:56:59

I'm glad it came over that way to you.

0:56:590:57:01

I always...

0:57:010:57:03

For me, the classic example is when you're talking about the fact that, for you,

0:57:050:57:10

Mick Jagger was absolutely great at performing in a small space

0:57:100:57:15

where you could appreciate his delicacy of movement.

0:57:150:57:18

And that he lost it a bit when it turned into the big-stadium Rolling Stones

0:57:180:57:21

and he started turning to dance instructors for routines.

0:57:210:57:26

There's a great line in the book where you say,

0:57:260:57:28

"Charlie and I, we always know when Mick's being plastic.

0:57:280:57:31

"We've been watching his arse for 40 years."

0:57:310:57:35

That's what we do!

0:57:360:57:39

We're there to...

0:57:390:57:40

as a safety net for Mick that we watch that bum...

0:57:400:57:45

Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh.

0:57:450:57:47

Just to make sure he doesn't miss a beat and if he does, we switch the beat.

0:57:470:57:51

It's complicated, but it's just like instinctive.

0:57:510:57:55

I love the man...

0:57:550:57:57

Can be a pain sometimes, but no doubt I can.

0:57:570:58:03

But working with a bunch of people for this amount of time is, you know, it is fairly unique.

0:58:030:58:09

And...

0:58:090:58:11

And I wouldn't have missed it for the world, man.

0:58:130:58:16

And next... wait until I put him back to work...

0:58:160:58:18

Hard task master. Good luck.

0:58:200:58:23

Bless you, Andrew. Thank you. It's been a pleasure to talk to you.

0:58:230:58:26

-It's been a pleasure to talk to you.

-Cool.

0:58:260:58:29

# You can't always get what you want

0:58:290:58:33

# You can't always get what you want

0:58:350:58:38

# You can't always get what you want

0:58:400:58:44

# But if you try sometimes

0:58:450:58:48

# Well, you might find

0:58:490:58:51

# You get what you need

0:58:510:58:53

# Ahh... #

0:58:540:58:56

To mark the publication of Keith Richards' autobiography, Life, this Culture Show special looks at the life of the man with five strings and nine lives. In a candid interview he chats to Andrew Graham-Dixon about his childhood in Dartford, his passion for music and the decade that catapulted the Rolling Stones from back-room blues boys to one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands in the world.


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