The biggest surprise in Keith Richards' memoir is that he remembers enough about his life to have written it. The Rolling Stones guitarist practically invented rock star debauchery — yet remains alive and coherent after decades of drug and alcohol abuse. "Life," co-written with author James Fox, has been praised by critics. The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani calls its prose "intense, elemental, utterly distinctive and achingly, emotionally direct," while Richard Corliss at Time praises its "engaging prose style and spellbinding story-telling." (Watch Keith Richards discuss his career.) Here are five notable revelations from Richards' book:
Keith hates lots of people...
The legendary guitarist doesn't hold back, especially when it comes to his fellow musicians. Prince? "An overrated midget." Elton John is "an old bitch," John Lennon a "silly sod," and of Bruce Springsteen he writes, "if there was anything better around, he'd still be working the bars of New Jersey."
... but especially Mick Jagger
Richards reserves most of his scorn for his bandmate and sparring partner Mick Jagger, whom he nicknames "Your Majesty." Jagger has been "unbearable" since the 1980s, he writes. Of Jagger's 1985 solo album, "She's The Boss," he says: "It's like Mein Kampf. Everybody had a copy, but nobody listened to it." In the most personal barb, he reveals that Jagger has a "tiny todger." He goes on: "I know he's got an enormous pair of balls, but it doesn't quite fill the gap, does it?"
His secret to a long life? Use good drugs
Many commentators express surprise that Richards has reached the age of 66, given his liberal abuse of almost every kind of illegal narcotic ever created. Richards addresses this, putting his longevity down to his use of the "finest, finest cocaine and the purest, purest heroin" — a combination he famously nicknamed "The breakfast of champions." He actually gave up heroin in 1979, but carried on using cocaine until 2006. "I've done so much bloody blow in my life, I don't miss it an inch," he says. "I think it gave me up."
Girl-swapping with bandmates
Richards began his relationship with Anita Pallenberg while she was going out with his fellow band member Brian Jones. The pair went on to have three children, even though Jagger slept with her in the early stages of their relationship. Richards got revenge though: He slept with Jagger's girlfriend Marianne Faithfull. In yet another personal swipe at Jagger, he writes: "I was knocking Marianne, man. While you're missing it, I'm kissing it."
Yes, he did snort his dead father's ashes
The rumor — long denied by Richards — that he snorted the ashes of his dead father Bert with a line of cocaine is partly true, reveals the book. "As I took the lid off the box, a fine spray of his ashes blew out onto the table," he writes. "I couldn't just brush him off, so I wiped my finger over it and snorted the residue. Ashes to ashes, father to son."
Sources: The Daily Telegraph, Time, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ABC News, Daily Mail
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
Subscribe to the Week