Keith Richard

Keith Richards (born 18 December 1943), sometimes credited as Keith Richard, is an English musician and songwriter best known as a guitarist and founder member of the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine called Richards "rock's greatest single body of riffs" on guitar and ranked him fourth on its list of 100 best guitarists in 2011, and the magazine lists fourteen songs that Richards wrote with the Rolling Stones' lead vocalist Mick Jagger on its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.


Richards plays both lead and rhythm guitar parts, often in the same song, as the Stones are generally known for their guitar interplay of rhythm and lead ("weaving") between Richards and the other guitarist in the band - Brian Jones (1962–1969), Mick Taylor (1969–1975), and Ronnie Wood (1975–present). In the recording studio, Richards sometimes plays all of the guitar parts, this notably happened on the songs "Paint It Black", "Ruby Tuesday", "Sympathy for the Devil", and "Gimme Shelter". He is also a vocalist, singing backing vocals on many Rolling Stones songs as well as occasional lead vocals, such as on the Rolling Stones' 1972 single, "Happy", as well as with his side project, The X-Pensive Winos.

Richards was born on 18 December 1943 at Livingston Hospital, in Dartford, Kent, England. He is the only child of Doris Maud Lydia (née Dupree) and Herbert William Richards. His father was a factory worker who was wounded in World War II during the Normandy invasion. Richards' paternal grandparents, Ernie and Eliza Richards, were socialists and civic leaders, whom he credited as "more or less creat(ing) the Walthamstow Labour Party", whilst Eliza also became mayor of the Municipal Borough of Walthamstow in London in 1941. His great-grandfather's family originated from Wales.

His maternal grandfather, Augustus Theodore "Gus" Dupree, who toured Britain with a jazz big band, Gus Dupree and his Boys, fostered Richards' interest in guitar. Richards has said that it was Dupree who gave him his first guitar. His grandfather 'teased' the young Richards with a guitar that was on a shelf that Richards couldn't reach at the time. Finally Dupree told Richards that if Richards could reach the guitar, he could have it. Richards then devised all manner of ways of reaching the guitar, including putting books and cushions on a chair, until finally getting hold of the guitar. His grandfather taught him the rudiments of Richards' first tune, "Malagueña". He worked on the number 'like mad', and then his grandfather let him keep the guitar. He called it 'the prize of the century'. Richards played at home, listening to recordings by Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and others. His father, on the other hand, disparaged his son's musical enthusiasm. One of Richards' first guitar heroes was Scotty Moore.

Richards attended Wentworth Primary School with Mick Jagger and was his neighbour until 1954, when the family moved. From 1955 to 1959 he attended Dartford Technical High School for Boys. Recruited by Dartford Tech's choirmaster, R. W. "Jake" Clare, Richards sang in a trio of boy sopranos at, among other occasions, Westminster Abbey for Queen Elizabeth II. In 1959, Richards was expelled from Dartford Tech for truancy and transferred to Sidcup Art College, where he met Dick Taylor. At Sidcup he was diverted from his studies proper and devoted more time to playing guitar with other students in the boys' room. At this point, Richards had learned most of Chuck Berry's solos.

Richards met Jagger on a train as Jagger was heading for classes at the London School of Economics. The mail-order rhythm & blues albums from Chess Records by Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters that Jagger was carrying revealed a mutual interest and led to a renewal of their friendship. Along with mutual friend Dick Taylor, Jagger was singing in an amateur band, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, which Richards soon joined. The Blues Boys folded when Brian Jones, after sharing thoughts on their joint interest in the blues music, invited Mick and Keith to the Bricklayers Arms pub, where they then met Ian Stewart.

By mid-1962 Richards had left Sidcup Art College to devote himself to music and moved into a London flat with Jagger and Jones. His parents divorced about the same time, resulting in his staying close to his mother and remaining estranged from his father until 1982.

After the Rolling Stones signed to Decca Records in 1963, their band manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, dropped the s from Richards' surname, believing that "Keith Richard", in his words, "looked more pop". During the late 1970s, Richards re-established the s in his surname.

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