The Rake


“Five notes, two strings, two fingers, and one asshole.” That’s all Keith Richards has ever needed to get by. Well, that, and perhaps an indestructible physical make-up from hell, a few hip cats with a thing for the blues by his side, and the blessings of the gods. Drug busts, heartbreak, heroin: there isn’t much the archetypal rock ’n’ roll guitar-slinger hasn’t endured. That he’s managed to emerge from the madness of his misadventures (relatively) unscathed, to the disbelief of lovers and naysayers alike — let alone keep one of the world’s greatest bands charging forth for more than five decades — is cause enough to hail him as the definition of a rake.

There was once a time when the world’s most “elegantly wasted” man (as the critic Nick Kent christened Richards in his heyday) was but a shy and soft-spoken wight with wonky ears. A few miles away from central London, in Dartford, Kent, the young Keith quelled the boredom of the ’burbs with Charles Dickens and grooved to down pat.

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