An icon, an enigma, an outlaw, a hell-raiser…..although the discussion continues on what’s the most apt adjective for him could be, everybody unanimously agrees on one thing – Keith Richard is probably one of the most gifted guitarists rock music has ever seen. He is not known to be much of a talker and it was always Mick Jagger who was the spokesperson of Rolling Stones. But, for the first time in ages, Keith Richard broke tradition and appeared for an intimate conversation with his fans, lovers, worshippers, adorers, at the New York Public Library on October 29.
As you can well imagine, his appearance was nothing less than a phenomenon of gigantic proportions. Dressed in his favorite leather jacket, signature silver jewelery and his favorite bright orange boots, Keith Richard looked every bit the lovable notorious guy he is famous to be. The people in the room let out loud whoops of joy and cries of “New York loves you!” which continued even after Richards had comfortably settled into his chair.
You may not expect it from a musician, but Keith Richard considers the library to be one of the two institutions that have a powerful effect on a growing mind – “the church which belongs to God, and the public Library, which belongs to you. The public library is the great equalizer.” On a less serious note, he also adds that his original ambition, believe it or not, was to be a librarian. Apparently, it was the only place where he could bring himself to obey the rules, that too willingly!
With an unusual honesty that is so characteristic of Keith Richards, he conversed with Anthony DeCurtis, a music journalist, and contributing editor for Rolling Stone. Among the topics discussed, were stories chronicling the journey of Rolling Stones, his affair with Anita Pallenberg, his passion for books and for history, the tragic death of Brian Jones, the notorious drug busts, and his heroin addiction. When the conversation veered towards the last, the discomfort in Keith Richard’s voice was evident. He commented that drugs seeped into your life and while “Getting in was easy, getting out was difficult.”
The conversation also turned to “Life,” his latest memoir, which is raking in stellar reviews. Rocker Liz Phair has said that reading this book was nothing short of “getting to corner Keith Richards in a room and ask him everything you ever wanted to know about the Rolling Stones, and have him be completely honest with you.” Andrew Stuttaford, of Wall Street Journal compared it to “Dionysus reminiscing in the pub.”
The conversation was a humbling experience, not just for Keith Richard, but also his admirers who’d gathered at the New York Public Library. It’s not every day you get to see an icon speaking in such a down to earth fashion about the most intimate memories of his life.
My salutations to Keith Richards!