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Keith Richards' 'Life' With The Rolling Stones

May 30, 2011 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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This interview was originally broadcast on October 25, 2010. Keith Richards' memoir Life is now available in paperback.

With his songwriting partner Mick Jagger, Keith Richards created some of the most iconic rock 'n' roll songs of the 20th century. But the opening line of one of The Rolling Stones' most famous hits — "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" — wasn't a collaboration. The riff came to Richards during a dream.

In an interview on Fresh Air, Richards recounts how he woke up just long enough to record the famous opening riff of "Satisfaction" on a cassette player he'd placed next to his bed.

"I go to bed as usual with my guitar, and I wake up the next morning, and I see that the tape is run to the very end," Richards tells Terry Gross. "And I think, 'Well, I didn't do anything. Maybe I hit a button when I was asleep.' So I put it back to the beginning and pushed play and there, in some sort of ghostly version, is [the opening lines to 'Satisfaction']. It was a whole verse of it. And after that, there's 40 minutes of me snoring. But there's the song in its embryo, and I actually dreamt the damned thing."

The 66-year-old lead guitarist has written Life, a memoir about his early musical influences, his time on the road with The Rolling Stones, his run-ins with the law and his occasionally contentious relationship with Jagger, the Stones' lead vocalist.

"You think, in a 50-year relationship doing this stuff, that there's not going to be some conflict, some disagreements? Of course there's going to be," Richards says. "...[Jagger] got used to holding the reins, and that was a bit of a shock to me at the time. But I got to live with it. And anyway, actually, what happened is we ended up sharing the reins again. But at the time, yeah, that did shock me, or disappointed me. Shock, I'm beyond."

Recently, Richards has made guest appearances on albums released by Willie Nelson and Lee "Scratch" Perry, among others, and recorded several tracks with Jack White. His albums with The Rolling Stones have sold an estimated 200 million copies worldwide, but he says the band has no plans to slow down.

"Quite honestly, I think the band wants to play. The boys want to play together, and hopefully we can get on the ups here," he says. "We're thinking ahead. I know, obviously, because of the book, and there's a lot of retro going on and stuff. But as far as I'm concerned, get over it. Get on ahead. We want to make some records, and we want to do some good shows, and we believe that we have it in us to do that."

Richards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2008, The Rolling Stones was ranked No. 4 in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. A new collection of Richards' solo studio records, entitled Vintage Vinos, will be released on Nov. 2.


Interview Highlights

On What Chuck Berry's Music Meant To Him

"To us in England and to people like Mick and myself, and many other people including Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Chuck arrived [with] incredible lyrics and [an] incredible 'devil-may-care' attitude and great records. At the time, we were starving [for good music] in England. We only had two radio stations in the country. We didn't have the dial-twisting. Everything you picked up was secondhand or in a juke joint or a coffee bar or something. And so music, when [people would] say, 'Did you hear that? Did you hear that?' — it wasn't immediately available to you. You had to go search for music. That is what we were doing in England."

On Being The Anti-Beatles

"If you're talking image-wise, we probably did make a decision to not be The Fab Four. They were basically differences between the bands. The Beatles were basically a vocal band. They all sang and one song, John would take the lead. Another, Paul [would] or George and sometimes Ringo. Our band set up totally differently — with one frontman, one lead singer, and what I loved about it is that there's an incredible difference in it between The Beatles and ourselves, but at the same time, we were there at the same time, and you're dealing with each other. And it was a very, very fruitful and great relationship between the Stones and The Beatles. It was very, very friendly. The competition thing didn't come into it as far as we were concerned."

On Groupies

"The most graphic is trying a theater in the north of England, and they brought the cops up to try to control the crowd, which consisted of young teenage girls. Everybody rushes through, the whole band, to get in the car. I'm the last one out of the stage door and silly me, I was wearing a chain around my neck and some chick from the left got hold of one side and some chick from the right got the other side, and to cut a long story short, quite honestly, I woke up in the garbage can to see the Stones' car, minus a door, zooming off in the horizon. And I'm just left laying there with half a shirt and a shoe. And everybody just left me. It's crazy."

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New In Paperback: May 2-8

May 5, 2011

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Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis Life by Keith Richards How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley Growing Up Laughing by Marlo Thomas

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Super Sad True Love Story

by Gary Shteyngart

The surprising and brilliant third novel from Russian-American satirist Shteyngart is actually two love stories — and while they're both, as promised, supersad, they're also incredibly (but very darkly) funny. The first love story chronicles the affair between Lenny Abramov, a shlubby but large-hearted salesman, and Eunice Park, 15 years his junior, a confused, shopping-obsessed daughter of Korean immigrants. Adding to the strain is the fact that America has become a financially strapped police state now all but owned by China, and the poor and disenfranchised are threatening to revolt. And that's the second love story. Shteyngart writes with an obvious affection for America — at its most chilling, Super Sad True Love Story comes across as a cri de coeur from an author who underscores his fear for his country with a disarming and absurd sense of humor.

352 pages, $15, Random House Trade Paperbacks


Imperial Bedrooms

by Bret Easton Ellis

Thanks to his debut novel, Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis became one of the literary brand names of the 1980s. He's just written a quarter-century-later sequel called Imperial Bedrooms, which picks up 25 years later, with the same cast of characters. The drugs are still there, the violence and sex are still there, and some of these characters who were pretty nasty in the first go-round are even worse this time around.

192 pages, $14.95, Vintage Books


Life

by Keith Richards

Rock 'n' roll icon Keith Richards opens his memoir with a drug bust, but ultimately the book isn't about partying like a rock star so much as working like one. The musical obsessions that have compelled him to keep playing for more than 50 years seem to get more ink, in the end, than his dish about lovers, heroin or his complicated relationship with Mick Jagger. Relentless, impassioned and oddly humble, Richards isn't unconscious in the least — though at times, he's awesomely unreflective. His homes and hotel rooms seem to catch fire with alarming frequency. He sleeps with a loaded gun under his pillow and brings his 7-year-old son on tour as his handler: All of this is mentioned without comment. But Richards tells his epic, rock 'n' roll life like it is — with salt and candor, and no apologies.

376 pages, $16.99, Back Bay Books


How Did You Get This Number?

by Sloane Crosley

Humorous personal essays, spiked with sparkling observations and mordant opinions and served up in carefully calibrated cocktails of self-absorption and self-deprecation, require a steady hand. It's the rare writer — David Sedaris, Nora Ephron — who gets the mix just right. Two years after her success with I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley's nine new essays in How Did You Get This Number prove she's on her way to joining their witty company. In Number, she has crossed the great divide past 30 but finds herself a stranger in various strange lands, groping for her physical bearings in Lisbon, Paris and Alaska, and her emotional bearings in New York, while dealing with a kleptomaniac roommate and a two-timing boyfriend. None of this is uncharted territory, but Crosley refreshes familiar rites of passage with a keen sense of the absurd and indelible images.

288 pages, $15, Riverhead Books


Growing Up Laughing

by Marlo Thomas

A lot of the folks who made people laugh when they were on Ed Sullivan or The Tonight Show — like George Burns, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Bob Newhart — all sat around Marlo Thomas' family dining table, telling stories late into the night with her comedian father. Now, Thomas has written a memoir about the sound and spirit that have been so formative in her life and the lives of others. She talks about — and to — some of the biggest names in American comedy, including Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Don Rickles. "I remember when I was teenager, I'd be out on a date but I'd look at my watch and I'd think, 'I better get home because the comics will be in the living room smoking cigars and drinking brandy and just screaming laughing.' It was just delightful," Thomas tells Scott Simon.

400 pages, $15.99, Hyperion Books


Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag .
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Vintage Vinos ()

Keith Richards On 'Life' With The Rolling Stones

Dec 27, 2010 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis Life by Keith Richards How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley Growing Up Laughing by Marlo Thomas

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This week on Fresh Air, we're marking the year's end by revisiting some of the most memorable conversations we've had in 2010. This interview was originally broadcast on October 25, 2010.

With his songwriting partner Mick Jagger, Keith Richards created some of the most iconic rock 'n' roll songs of the 20th century. But the opening line of one of The Rolling Stones' most famous hits — "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" — wasn't a collaboration. The riff came to Richards during a dream.

In an interview on Fresh Air, Richards recounts how he woke up just long enough to record the famous opening riff of "Satisfaction" on a cassette player he'd placed next to his bed.

"I go to bed as usual with my guitar, and I wake up the next morning, and I see that the tape is run to the very end," Richards tells Terry Gross. "And I think, 'Well, I didn't do anything. Maybe I hit a button when I was asleep.' So I put it back to the beginning and pushed play and there, in some sort of ghostly version, is [the opening lines to 'Satisfaction']. It was a whole verse of it. And after that, there's 40 minutes of me snoring. But there's the song in its embryo, and I actually dreamt the damned thing."

The 66-year-old lead guitarist has written Life, a memoir about his early musical influences, his time on the road with The Rolling Stones, his run-ins with the law and his occasionally contentious relationship with Jagger, the Stones' lead vocalist.

"You think, in a 50-year relationship doing this stuff, that there's not going to be some conflict, some disagreements? Of course there's going to be," Richards says. "...[Jagger] got used to holding the reins, and that was a bit of a shock to me at the time. But I got to live with it. And anyway, actually, what happened is we ended up sharing the reins again. But at the time, yeah, that did shock me, or disappointed me. Shock, I'm beyond."

Recently, Richards has made guest appearances on albums released by Willie Nelson and Lee "Scratch" Perry, among others, and recorded several tracks with Jack White. His albums with The Rolling Stones have sold an estimated 200 million copies worldwide, but he says the band has no plans to slow down.

"Quite honestly, I think the band wants to play. The boys want to play together, and hopefully we can get on the ups here," he says. "We're thinking ahead. I know, obviously, because of the book, and there's a lot of retro going on and stuff. But as far as I'm concerned, get over it. Get on ahead. We want to make some records, and we want to do some good shows, and we believe that we have it in us to do that."

Richards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2008, The Rolling Stones was ranked No. 4 in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. A new collection of Richards' solo studio records, entitled Vintage Vinos, will be released on Nov. 2.


Interview Highlights

On What Chuck Berry's Music Meant To Him

"To us in England and to people like Mick and myself, and many other people including Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Chuck arrived [with] incredible lyrics and [an] incredible 'devil-may-care' attitude and great records. At the time, we were starving [for good music] in England. We only had two radio stations in the country. We didn't have the dial-twisting. Everything you picked up was secondhand or in a juke joint or a coffee bar or something. And so music, when [people would] say, 'Did you hear that? Did you hear that?' — it wasn't immediately available to you. You had to go search for music. That is what we were doing in England."

On Being The Anti-Beatles

"If you're talking image-wise, we probably did make a decision to not be The Fab Four. They were basically differences between the bands. The Beatles were basically a vocal band. They all sang and one song, John would take the lead. Another, Paul [would] or George and sometimes Ringo. Our band set up totally differently — with one frontman, one lead singer, and what I loved about it is that there's an incredible difference in it between The Beatles and ourselves, but at the same time, we were there at the same time, and you're dealing with each other. And it was a very, very fruitful and great relationship between the Stones and The Beatles. It was very, very friendly. The competition thing didn't come into it as far as we were concerned."

On Groupies

"The most graphic is trying a theater in the north of England, and they brought the cops up to try to control the crowd, which consisted of young teenage girls. Everybody rushes through, the whole band, to get in the car. I'm the last one out of the stage door and silly me, I was wearing a chain around my neck and some chick from the left got hold of one side and some chick from the right got the other side, and to cut a long story short, quite honestly, I woke up in the garbage can to see the Stones' car, minus a door, zooming off in the horizon. And I'm just left laying there with half a shirt and a shoe. And everybody just left me. It's crazy."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
'I Remember Nothing' book cover ()

Sex, Drugs And 'Life' — The Year's Best Guilty Reads

Dec 8, 2010 (All Things Considered)

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Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang Love, Lust, and Faking It Late, Late at Night Life Growing Up Laughing by Marlo Thomas

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Recently, I stayed up for two days with Keith Richards. I took a bath with Chelsea Handler, snuggled with Jenny McCarthy, and sipped tea with Nora Ephron. Just last week, I slept with Rick Springfield.

I've been indulging my guiltiest pleasure: celebrity tell-alls. What can I say? I generally read hard-hitting nonfiction. But sometimes — when the year is coming to an end and I'm mentally going on vacation — I just want to read about famous people's bad plastic surgery, failing memories and drug habits. So sue me.

This year I indulged in a confession-fest: Five books by celebrities occupying different ranks in the pop-culture pantheon. 2010 has seen more than its share of memoirs and dish, but I found myself most attracted to books by 1) rock stars who've slept with or ingested everything; and 2) sexy, drunken, smart-mouthed women.

Their books bare their souls to one degree or another — but at a price. Are any of these guilty pleasures worth the sheckles? Well, yeah, actually.


Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

By Chelsea Handler; hardcover, 256 pages; Grand Central, list price, $25.99

I began with that fabulous, Wicked Wit of the East, comedian Chelsea Handler. I love Handler's sense of the absurd and her rapid-fire monologues on cable. Her latest book, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, relates her madcap antics during third grade, vacations and family pow-wows. It's chock-full of sexual awakenings, bickering e-mails and obscene language: What's not to love?

Some of Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang is gutsy and perversely funny: When she fabricates a comedy based on the Challenger disaster starring herself and Meryl Streep, I chortled out loud. Other times? Well, her book is like stand-up: Your enjoyment depends a lot upon your mood, your willingness to be charmed — and, at least in my case, how many martinis you've consumed.


I Remember Nothing

By Nora Ephron; hardcover, 160 pages; Knopf, list price: $22.95

A second guilty pleasure of mine is to pass judgment on things I know nothing about. As such, I picked up Nora Ephron's latest, I Remember Nothing, predisposed not to like it. Why? I have absolutely no idea, except that she's so popular in my hometown of New York and so good at everything she does (including writing about what she supposedly doesn't do well) that it brings out the begrudgery in me.

And yet, within the first three pages, I was giggling out loud. Though I'm more of Handler's generation, I laughed in recognition at Ephron's tales — perhaps because, while I've never proposed a comedy based on the space shuttle disaster, I have, like Ephron, "attended many legendary rock concerts and spent them wondering when they would end and where we would eat afterward." No topic is too abstract or trivial: She serves up poignant musings on divorce, failure and aging, as well as first-rate comedic kvetching over stuff like Teflon, e-mail, and dessert spoons.

I Remember Nothing has a likable, every-person sensibility and a fierce, consoling wit. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I happily paid for it instead of indulging in my third (and worst) guilty pleasure — reading entire books in the store while hiding behind a shelf.


Love, Lust And Faking It

By Jenny McCarthy; hardcover, 256 pages; Harper, list price: $24.99

And now for something completely different: Over the years, Jenny McCarthy has managed to establish herself as both a Playboy Playmate and an autism activist — no easy feat, I'd say. She's made a career of the knowing comic wink. Or, in her case, the burp that explodes the facade of her bombshell looks.

Her new book, titled Love, Lust and Faking It, is like spending an afternoon with your best friend, a copy of Cosmo and a low-fat milkshake. McCarthy confides personal stories of heartbreak and humiliation that are truly affecting. Yet these are padded with Twitter surveys, pop psychology and bedroom horoscopes. The result: total junk food. Yummy but substance-less. In the end, I wanted more McCarthy, less artificial additives. Her book is the publishing equivalent of Doritos. Still, who doesn't love Doritos? I polished off the book in a single sitting. I felt like an idiot; but whose fault was that?


Late, Late At Night

By Rick Springfield; hardcover, 336 pages; Touchstone, list price: $26

Which brings me to Rick Springfield: pop singer, soap star, '80s heartthrob. His memoir, Late, Late at Night, is like binge drinking. You know it's a terrible idea, but it's escapist and addictive; you can't put it down.

His book has everything deliciously tawdry you want from a pop-star memoir. It attempts naked honesty about his roller-coaster career, marriage, depression and sex addiction. If that's not enough, there are plenty of beefcake photos. Springfield is 61 and looks 38. Sadly, he writes like he's 19. Late, Late at Night groans with overwrought confessions, cocky asides and adolescent soul-searching. There's loads of bad behavior and contrition, but little real wisdom.

Which is a shame, because there's powerful material here. At 17, Springfield attempted suicide. In 1968, he saw action in Vietnam — as an Australian entertaining the troops. This should be riveting, but his swagger makes it glib.

Still, if you ever adored Rick Springfield, you'll probably do as I did: Take him to bed, enjoy him more than you want to admit and hate yourself in the morning. Late, Late at Night is, like its author, unsatisfying but embarrassingly seductive.

But what did I expect, really?


Life

By Keith Richards with James Fox; hardcover, 576 pages; Little, Brown and Company, list price: $29.99

Well, enter Keith Richards and his memoir, Life. To be fair, I'm a huge Rolling Stones fan. Richards could cough up a hairball and I'd think it was musical genius. Still, his book is surprising.

While it opens with a drug bust, ultimately it isn't about partying like a rock star but working like one. We get pages and pages about his craft — how he listened repeatedly to blues albums, figuring out how his musical idols played particular riffs, then removed a string from his guitar to get the Stones' raunchy, signature sound. The musical obsessions that have compelled him to keep playing for over 50 years seem to get more ink, in the end, than his dish about lovers, heroin or his complicated relationship with Mick Jagger.

Relentless, impassioned and oddly humble, Richards isn't unconscious in the least — though at times, he's awesomely unreflective. His homes and hotel rooms seem to catch fire with alarming frequency. He sleeps with a loaded gun under his pillow and brings his 7-year-old son on tour as his handler: All of this is mentioned without comment.

But Richards tells his epic, rock 'n' roll life like it is — with salt and candor, and no apologies. The result is a pleasure to read. And there's nothing guilty about it.

My Guilty Pleasure is edited and produced by Ellen Silva.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Life ()

Keith Richards' 'Life': Sex, Drugs And Brown Sugar

by Michael Schaub
Nov 8, 2010

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Rock and roll, by its nature, doesn't have many rules; if it did it wouldn't be rock and roll. It does have, however, an unwritten code, and this is part of it: real rockers never quit. Retirement isn't hardcore, which explains why the Rolling Stones haven't called it quits after nearly 50 years as, arguably, the world's second most famous band. Keith Richards, the legendary founding guitarist of the Stones, is 66, but don't mistake his new memoir for a valedictory. It's more like a statement of purpose; a lead-off track, not a final cut. "I can't retire until I croak," he writes — more than once — in Life. It seems like as safe a bet as you're ever going to find in rock.

Rock and roll, after all, is his first love. Early in Life, Richards describes his first guitar, "a gut-string job," given to him by his mother when he was 15: "I took it everywhere and I went to sleep with my arm laid across it." It's the kind of honest, guileless moment that makes this book so charming, so unexpectedly moving. Richards might epitomize the popular idea of the rock lifestyle more than any other living artist — and he doesn't shy away from admitting his deep affections for women and drugs — but he's at his best, unsurprisingly, when he's rhapsodizing about rock. "[W]hen it works, baby, you've got wings," he writes. "It's flying without a license."

That's not to say he shies away from the darker parts of his life. The book opens on a scene of Richards nearly being arrested with "grass, peyote and mescaline. ... hash, Tuinals, some coke" in Arkansas in 1975. There's no shortage of passages like these — litanies of bad decisions and inadvisable substances — and they're as joyless and stark as you'd expect. He alludes, quickly, to the Stones' reputation among some as misogynistic, thanks to songs like "Under My Thumb." "Maybe we were winding them up," he admits, though he can't help but add, "When you've got three thousand chicks ... ripping off their panties and throwing them at you, you realize what an awesome power you have unleashed."

It's undeniable rock-nerd fun to read about the first rock song Richards fell in love with (Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel"), the Stones' first several gigs, and the first Jagger-Richards song ever written ("As Tears Go By"). But the tone of Life veers dangerously close to humorless spite when Richards recounts his frustrations with his bandmates — Brian Jones, who he calls "cold-blooded, vicious" and a "whining son of a bitch"; Mick Jagger, whose solo album Richards compares to Mein Kampf ("Everybody had a copy, but nobody listened to it").

But rock and roll isn't supposed to be pretty, and it's hard to second-guess one of the art form's most pioneering, most original survivors. Richards's memoir, like his now universally famous guitar riffs, is likable and infectious; co-author James Fox has done an admirable job preserving the rocker's unique voice, while weaving a compelling and sometimes fascinating narrative. Life isn't always easy; you want things to end happily, even when you know how the story turns out. But that's rock and roll — and you can't always get what you want.

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