Keith's a bit like my father. He likes to say Where are you going? He gets really annoyed with me if I go out in a restaurant when we're on tour. He'll say, Oh, why do you want to be seen everywhere, why don't you just order room service? Keith, dear, I'd like to go out for once. So he'll say, Why didn't you invite me? so we'll invite him and then he can turn it down or come. When he does come he makes a whole big deal about checking out the restaurant first, a real mafia deal. Got your seats, table, private room - he's just lovely. I just enjoy turning up.
Keith's whole street image is self-destructive but that's not Keith really. His public image tends to be a bit punk, but he really isn't harmful at all.
(Keith is s)hy. Introverted. He's very nice, really. He can be a real bust, though (laughs). If he's in his regular mood, he's great. But if he's in a bad mood you can't be in a good mood with him, because he kind of dominates the mood of the room... As I say, he's very introverted and to overcome that he makes the appearance of being very carefree and brash, flailing his arms and rubbing his hair when he comes into the room. He's a bit insecure, I think.
To a certain extent Keith has gotten very much like his father. He's very narrow-minded, very sheltered and shuttered, and that helps to keep him going. He doesn't want anything from the outside. Everybody knows what he wants and what he likes and what he needs. Whether he's in Berlin or Tokyo, if you look in the fridge there is always a shepherd's pie.... I can see the resemblance, this kind of unmovable, unchangeable figure everybody flitters and moves around. And Keith flies off on trantrums and gets very threatening. I've seen Keith pointing guns at people, which is very scary stuff, especially if they're loaded.
(Keith) likes to think of himself as (a tyrant), but really he's just a pussycat, to be perfectly honest. He just does what he's told, half the time. Don Was (the co-producer on Voodoo Lounge) would just say, PLAY IT - longer intro, and he'd do it. You know, sometimes he gets very frustrated and doesn't like what's going on, and he's very rude and unnecessarily gets too carried away with it, as if it's so really important. But that's just because he's very short-tempered.
Every once in a while (Keith) just seems to like to stir it up a little bit, get everybody's blood going. It works. It's funny. He says it's deliberate, but I think it's more really who Keith is. Sometimes he looks at things and he wants to be the guy who landed on Gilligan's Island - Wrong Way. Sometimes he just decides that everybody else is going that way, and I'm going this way. It's part of his nature.
The band is getting better and better. The guys are knocking me out, you know. And that makes me happy. And if I'm happy it keeps everybody else happy. Because when I'm unhappy, forget about it.
Keith has a way of putting things together. He's always surprising you, pulling things out of the air. And he's hilariously funny. Him and Ron Wood together are one of the great comedy acts, the way they develop situations, their language. It's actually something I look forward to when we're going on tour.
I'd hate to be responsible if it's the Rolling Stones that have driven (Keith) to drugs. I hope he didn't have to do that to keep the pressure going. I don't think it's the Rolling Stones. It must be Keith. Whenever I've asked Keith about drugs, he's said he likes them.
(I)t seemed that (with drugs) Keith got more insecure when he should have got more confident, as he was becoming a better musician and songwriter. On the surface Keith seems to be confident but he is insecure and he hates people to be aware of that. In the old days when Keith was heavily involved with drugs, he couldn't be bothered to talk to you. You'd say hello and he'd act like he had nothing to do with you and walk away. So I'd think, Well, fuck him. Another day I wouldn't say anything and Keith would say, Hello Bill, how are you? I'd be so shocked and surprised that he actually bothered to say hello.
I don't pay that much attention to (taking care of my health), just because I've never had to. I'm very lucky in that everything always functioned perfectly, even under the most incredible strains and amounts of chemicals. But I think a lot of it has to do with a solid consciousness of it in a regulatory system which serves me. I never took too much of anything. I never went out for a big rush or complete obliteration. I sometimes find that I've been up 5 days, and I'll collapse and just fall asleep, but that's about the only thing that I do to myself and I only do that because I find that I'm capable of doing it.
(Why did I take heroin?) It was a damn good feeling, for starters. And we were going through a lot of stuff. I could operate behind that. It gave me a distance from everything that was going on around me. I could see things happening - fast time, slow time. It was Stones business, Allen Klein stuff, and then Brian dying. There was a lot of stuff happening, and it gave me a sense of space. Eventually, I was so far in space, I was almost in the atmosphere.
How did I handle (Keith's drug problems?) Oh, with difficulty. It's never easy. I don't find it easy dealing with people with drug problems. It helps if you're all taking drugs, all the same drugs. But anyone taking heroin is thinking about taking heroin more than they're thinking about anything else. That's the general rule about most drugs... I think that people taking drugs occasionally are great. I think there's nothing wrong with it. But if you do it the whole time, you don't produce as good things as you could. It sounds like a puritanical statement, but it's based on experience. You can produce many good things, but they take an awfully long time... When Keith was taking heroin, it was very difficult to work. He still was creative, but it took a long time. And everyone else was taking drugs and drinking a tremendous amount, too. And it affected everyone in certain ways. But I've never really talked to Keith about this stuff. So I have no idea what he feels.
Believing (your fame is)... very dangerous. It's not very good for people around you, and even worse for yourself. That's my experience of it. It's one of the reasons I don't regret zooming into the dope thing for so long. It was an experiment that went on too long, but in a way that kept my feet on the street when I could have just become some brat-ass, rich rock and roll superstar bullshit, and done myself in in another way. In a way I almost see it as I almost forced myself into that in order to counterbalance this superstar shit that was going on around us... In retrospect, it shouldn't have worked, but that's what I had to do. When I look at it now, that was one of my rationalizations for it. And the other is, hell, I was just sort of into De Quincey's Opium Eaters a century too late. (laughs) I just saw myself as a laboratory: Well, let's see what this does.
I've been an amateur chemist, a "drugologist". I always went by this old 1903 medical dictionary which was produced before drugs were considered bad for you. If you were constipated you were told to go to the chemists and get a little tincture of cocaine. If you had diarrhoea, then it was a grain of heroin. I've abused drugs, but I didn't go into them without boning up on them first.
I never liked speed, and that's probably why I go more for depressants, because my natural energy is very high. In the old days I really didn't want to deal with being a star every day and you could kind of hide inside heroin, it was like a cocoon; a soft wall between you and everything else. Probably not the best solution to the problem, but at the time I didn't think about that. It's an experiment that went on too long - getting heavily busted, blowing it for the Stones and for my family. I had to stop so I did. People talk about cocaine addiction all the time, but I know what addiction is: opium, heroin, you know? That's when you're climbing the walls and you see your own fingernail marks 'cause you think there's something behind the wall. Cocaine is just a bad habit.
People imagine that I'M the bourgeois one and Keith is a real tearaway. Perhaps that's true but Keith is much more of a family man than I am. He stays in one place much longer. Both of us like living in a family style even if our approach is different. Keith shares with me a semi-delight in the family. We're both very restless. We have energy for different things, which come out in different places. Keith can stay in one place, but he's just as restless whereas I keep moving.
There is an image projected that people come for and take away with them and give to their readers if they're journalists, and obviously there's a lot of me in that image. I've never tried consciously to project it, but there's not really much you can do about it. It's like a little shadow person that you live with. In some situations, I'll realize, Uh, no, these people expect me to do a REAL Keith Richards... and sometimes it's quite funny... As long as you're aware of it, it's something to play with. I'd only get worried if I really became like Keith Richards... whoever HE is (laughs).
People's fascination with other people's bad habits is something you don't take into consideration when you start this thing. Yeah, it's there - the image of me with a parrot on my shoulder and a patch on the eye. But he's only one side of it. I really like a quiet life: listen to my music, burn my incense. I'm all for a quiet life, except I didn't get one.
I'm a family man. I have little 2-year-old and 3-year-old girls that beat me up. I'm not the guys I see on MTV, who obviously think they ARE me. There are so many people who think that's all there is to it. It's not THAT easy to be Keith Richards. But it's not so HARD, either. The main thing is to know yourself... With my friends, the Keith Richards look is, like, a great LAUGH.
I made a determined effort after the last tour to get up with the family. Which for me is a pretty impressive goal. But I did it - I'd get up at 7 in the morning. After a few months, I was allowed to drive the kids to school. Then I was allowed to take the garbage out. Before that, I didn't even know where the recycling bin was. I read a lot. I might have a little sail around Long Island Sound if the weather is all right. I do a lot of recording in my basement, writing songs, keeping up to speed. I have no fixed routine. I wander about the house, wait for the maids to clean the kitchen, then fuck it all up again and do some frying. Patti and I go out once a week, if there's something on in town - take the old lady out for dinner with a bunch of flowers, get the rewards (smiles).
He's such a strong personality. A completely intuitive musician. He moves like an animal. (Mimes the moving gestures of a panther.) Gosh, he is just pure theater - standing in the middle of a room and putting on his guitar and turning on his amp. All his stuff is irregular. He's a killer, man. A great spirit. Like a pirate. He's a complete gentleman.
Nobody's ever (cut my hair since I was 14). I mean, a few chicks have had a snip here and there when I'm asleep. The Samson bit. Those damned Delilahs! Otherwise, no. I never say I'm going to cut my hair. I just walk into the bathroom and there's a pair of scissors and I say, That bit's got to go.
We were always more into the Rolling Stones' music, then the life-style that was supposed to go with it. I always have mixed feelings about meeting people, but Keith didn't turn out to be the way a lot of people portray him. I found him, musically speaking, very much in love. It's a light people have in their eyes, or don't have, or often a light that goes out as people accept the bribes that they're offered. As they go through their musical lives they're bought off not just with hard cash, but with other interests. There are many side roads and back streets to rock and roll, and most of us get lost down them at times. But I found Keith to be very much on the main road. He was still in love with music. You can see that all his infamy and fortune don't matter much to him. When he puts on the guitar lines disappear from his face.
Well, I've always been (a Rolling Stone), from the start of... if you want to call it my professional career. And I never wanted to be anything else. For the last couple of years I've had to deal with NOT being one. At first it almost broke my heart. What I've learned from not being a Rolling Stone for 2 years probably will help me be, if the Stones come back together, which they will, will help me be... what can I say - a better Rolling Stone? (laughs) Or make the Rolling Stones better. I have a little more confidence in myself, by myself. I found that I can, if I have to, live without the Rolling Stones. And that my only job isn't desperately trying to keep a band together that maybe needed a break.
He's incredibly loyal. That's endearing. He's loyal to a fault.
(C)hicks see the other side of me, which guys don't. I have a good empathy with women. I mean, nobody has ever divorced ME.
I cry quite often. I look at a picture of my grandfather sometimes, listening to music that he loved.
(W)hy do people have hobbies? They're working their guts out doing something they don't really like to do, but they just happen to have caught a job and do it, and at night they go home and on the weekends they have a hobby. They are working to get those few hours to spend on their hobby, when that's the area they should really be working in... (My profession is my hobby.) Didn't expect it to become a living or to become a star. I mean, that's the other thing - fame. That can screw you. People come up and ask me about this and that, and I say, You're talking to a madman. I mean, my view of the world is totally distorted. Since 18, I've had chicks throwing themselves at me, and I turned the little teenage dream into reality like that (snaps fingers) by a miracle, God knows how. And therefore my view is gonna be distorted, at the very least.
Keith is very much a friend. If you are with Keith you are with him for life. He is very honourable like that and very close. We don’t say much, we just look at each other... He (is) a very quiet guy actually, very quiet. He is nothing like his image.
(E)ventually I found out that I'm better than I thought I was. Growing up, no matter what anybody else is saying about you - you're fantastic or whatever - you're always saying to yourself, I'm inadequate. I'm just this mere shell. But you fill the shell up, you know? And I kind of feel like I'm half-full.
I'm still trying to grow up, man. It's all still an amazing adventure to me, the whole thing. Wow.