Keith Richards (born 18 December 1943) is an English musician, singer and songwriter, producer, actor, and one of the original members of the rock band The Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone Magazine credited Richards for “rock’s greatest single body of riffs” on guitar and ranked him 4th on its list of 100 best guitarists. Fourteen songs that Richards wrote with the Rolling Stones’ lead vocalist Mick Jagger are listed among Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The Stones are generally known for their guitar interplay of rhythm and lead (“weaving”) with Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood over the years. In spite of this, Richards plays the only guitar tracks on some of their most famous songs including “Paint It Black”, “Ruby Tuesday”, “Sympathy for the Devil”, and “Gimme Shelter”.
Richards’ mother bought him his first guitar and he 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 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 childhood friendship, love of blues, and in 1963, they formed The Rolling Stones.
Richards is the Rolling Stones’ bandleader, and he says his job is “oiling the machinery.” Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood say that while most bands follow the drummer, the Rolling Stones, Wyman says, have “no way of ‘not’ following” Richards. Richards has a collection of approximately 3,000 guitars. Even though he has used many different guitar models, in a 1986 Guitar World interview Richards joked that no matter what model he plays, “give me five minutes and I’ll make ’em all sound the same.” Chris Spedding calls Richards’ guitar playing “direct, incisive and unpretentious”. Richards says he is focused on chords and rhythms while avoiding flamboyant and competitive virtuosity by not trying to be the “fastest gun in the west.” He prefers teaming with at least one other guitarist and has almost never toured without one. Richards regards acoustic guitar as the basis for his playing, believing that the limitations of electric guitar would cause him to “lose that touch” if he stopped playing an acoustic.
The first top-ten hit for the Rolling Stones with a Jagger and Richards original was “The Last Time” in early 1965;”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (also 1965) was their first international number one recording. Richards has stated that the”Satisfaction” riff came to him in his sleep; he woke up just long enough to record it on a cassette player by his bed. Since Aftermath (1966) most Rolling Stones albums have consisted mainly of Jagger and Richards originals. Their songs reflect the influence of blues, R&B, rock & roll, pop, soul, gospel and country, as well as forays into psychedelia and Dylanesque social commentary.
Richards made a cameo appearance as Captain Teague, the father of Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, released in May 2007, and won the Best Celebrity Cameo award at the 2007 Spike Horror Awards for the role. Depp has stated that he based many of Sparrow’s mannerisms on Richards. Richards reprised his role in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, released in May 2011.
His autobiography, Life, was released in 2010. In it, Richards refers to Mick Jagger as “unbearable” and notes that their relationship has been strained “for decades”.
In his solo career, Richards has often shared co-writing credits with drummer and co-producer Steve Jordan. Richards has said, “I’ve always thought songs written by two people are better than those written by one. You get another angle on it.” Richards has frequently stated that he feels less like a creator than a conduit when writing songs: “I don’t have that god aspect about it. I prefer to think of myself as an antenna. There’s only one song, and Adam and Eve wrote it; the rest is a variation on a theme.” Richards was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1993.His third solo album, Crosseyed Heart, was released in September 2015.