Internal Memo: Keith Richards

If you’re just an average guy, you don’t see too many bonuses in life, not like one of these fancy banker cats or even a fella like me. I’ve seen some kind of bonus around every corner, whether it was just a good fix or some bird who was ready to scratch my eyes out. The average guy, he doesn’t see bonuses like that, and that’s why for our fans-the greatest rock ‘n’ roll fans in the world-we give ’em another go with our records, sell a few more units but with bonus tracks. Same with my memoir-the next edition is going to come with a selection of bonus prose, demos, outtakes and scraps of my writing, such as it were, that I dug out of the rubbish. Here’s a little preview of a couple of these numbers.

Maggie and Me

It was 1983, and the Stones had just put out our Cold War ditty “Under Cover of the Night.” Mick was in New York making some foolhardy solo record when I got a call from the Prime Minister’s office. Apparently the PM had taken the song to heart and wanted the Glimmer Twins in to discuss foreign policy. I went for tea and cookies, a Stone alone. Turned out Maggie Thatcher had got it in her head that it might be useful to Her Majesty for the band to go on tour behind the Iron Curtain for purposes of public diplomacy and intelligence gathering. But with Brenda off in the States trying to out-wiggle Prince, the whole thing was a wash. Maggie and I got to talking. I was grateful for her non-punitive tax policies, and she loved my riffs. Now I have never put the make on a girl in my life, but the Iron Lady and I looked at each other and the tension was so high there in 21 Downing, the next thing I know she’s giving me a blow job. The tension broke then. Phew. And suddenly we’re together. For a week or so, it’s boinky boinky boinky, down in the Falklands, and then old Mags had to go stand for reelection. Never saw her again. It’s like Rod and Ronnie’s song, Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face. Always liked that one. Couldn’t’ve known it would come true for me, but that’s what music does. Rod, of course, knew from Maggie. She’s who the bloody song was about.


It’s an oft-told tale that I wrote the riff for “Satisfaction,” playing the guitar into the tape recorder by my bedside, only discovering that I’d done the job the next day. The origins of another of my riffs are more obscure. It was around 1970, we were recording at Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama, and I had one of those nights so many of us never wake up from. I wound up in a hospital bed, hooked up to a rather primitive EKG machine. As it happens, my clothes were in a pile in the corner of the room and inside my leather jacket was my tape recorder, still going. I flat-lined, heart dead stopped, EKG machine dulled to a steady purr. All this is on the tape. Looks like it’s curtains for old Keith. Then all of a sudden my heart kicks back in with a better lick than any I ever came up with playing with my hands. In the morning this gorgeous minx of a black nurse comes in, and boinky boinky boinky. She dug the tape out of my jacket and played it for me. There you go, “Brown Sugar.”


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