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An Interview with Keith Richards



Victor Mount: When you agreed to this interview it was on condition that we observed 'the strategy of the nebulus'. What exactly did you mean?

Keith Richards: Well, wouldn't you rather have somebody with experience telling you the whys and wherefores? You wouldn't want to go into battle with completely green people now would you?

V.M. Given that people have this reluctance to face their fears, even green people, and thereby a tendency to veer towards mixing the dialogue of ironic patronization with the urge of innuendo, do you ever wonder if it is the simplistic nature of the Stones personae which courts popularity?

K.R. As I've said before, if you're going to kick authority in the teeth you may as well use two feet

V.M. All activities , however negative, seem to generate a positive equal. Your infamous sixties drug bust with Mick and the gallery owner Robert Fraser resulted in custodial sentences but Richard Hamilton did a famous lithograph from the press cuttings. Your last name and his first are uncannily similar. Is this coincidence?

K.R .It's like a fever. Better than gambling because with gambling you either win or lose; this way you've always got a chance.

V.M. I recently saw a man who looked a lot like you, considerably shabbier yet quite distinguished, hold up a Lidl carrier bag whilst waiting for a 319 and shout "Shut up, mother" Is the substitution of inanimate objects for absent friends or relatives something you have ever resorted to?

K.R .That's what I mean. Why would you do it? Do you think people do it out of a need for excitement? God knows what their attitude is. It's changed as have all our attidues.

V.M. There is a theory that all words uttered stay in the air and that we are constantly breathing-in other peoples silent voices and re-energising them, like a giant game of memory scrabble. Do you worry about cluttering the air with the lyrics to 'Brown Sugar' or is that where you found them in the first place?

K.R. Yes. When I'm on an aeroplane I have to have a window seat and I don't pull down the blind while the film is playing

V.M. You make it sound so inconsequential. I read a story about you seeing a woman's green and white scarf in the street, and you were so interested that you followed her to see exactly what the proportion of green to white was.

K.R. It's well beyond careless, isn't it. It's stupid. Well I don't know, it's the challenge of life. you look at a mountain and you set foot on it - there's only one way to go

V.M. It's widely accepted that your style of playing, certainly in the early years, was a straight rip-off from Chuck Berry. Peter Blake, the sixties Pop Artist, painted Chuck Berry then went on to design the cover for Sergeant Pepper when the Beatles where your biggest rivals. How did you view this duplicity?

K.R.I was dissapointed not to have an after-death experience which would have been fascinating

V.M.It's also often said that the artist invents something first and then we see it everywhere. You know, first Cezanne painted it then we see Cezannes everywhere. On the bus coming over I kept seeing Elsworth Kellys - the curve of the window intersecting the blue of the sky, that sort of thing. Do you see Ron Woods everywhere?

K.R .I'm more devoted to the spoken word. When I switch the radio on it's always to listen to people speaking. I saw your 'Disco Of The Spoken Word' once, really enjoyed it . I'm obssesed by science. I love genetics and physics. I'm addicted to the Open University on BBC2 at night. The stuff we know now that we didn't ten years ago makes me believe that it would be dangerous to deny the possibility of anything.

V.M. You share your initials with Kingston Rovers. Do you have any interest in sport?

K.R. My father was a very reserved guy. We had the odd quarrel but I admired him because he was so athletic.

V.M. Well it's been very interesting to talk to you but I've got to get the bus back now.

K.R. Goodbye Vic

V.M.Goodbye Keith

See also: An interview with Eric clapton