Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Quote of the Day: Keith Richards

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father."
Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist legendary for his capacity for chemicals and bacchanalia, confessed this strange inhalation to the British magazine New Music Express. He's saying that he took a bit of the ashes of his cremated father's corpse and snorted them as one would a line of cocaine. In fact, he cut a bit of his father into his own stash of coke.

The NME article, now being quoted with abandon all over the Internet, isn't an interview, or even a true question-and-answer; it's more a fill-in-the-blank, presumably because Keef's mind tended to wander. One can imagine the interviewer jotting down Richards' rantings like an acolyte in front of a great seer:
They forgot the roll and they only kept the rock. The roll's the whole damn thing dude, the rock is nothing, deal with it, the roll is king. Unfortunately most cats don't get behind the roll.
'Right,' mutters the young acolyte, as he jots it down, 'there ... is ... no ... roll.'

That young acolyte is writer Mark Beaumont, who happens to be amazed by the publicity his interview got. He says he didn't even meet with Keith. "I may have only interviewed him over the phone," Beaumont said in NME's blog, "but he totally lived up to my expectations and he had so many stories to tell." Now Beaumont's getting calls for television interviews of his own.

Snorting dead people isn't unheard of in entertainment -- some clubbers did it in an episode of HBO's Six Feet Under. Anytime you've got powdered substances around coke fiends, bad ideas germinate. "You'd expect nothing more from a hedonistic legend like Keith Richards," Beaumont said. You wouldn't expect anything less, either.

I saw a photo of Richards with his father once. He was a jolly looking round-faced man with a white beard, and he had a healthful well-fed glow about him -- in stark contrast to the thin, leathery, cadaverous Keith. He also looked very proud of his son, whose arm was around him.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow," Richards told NME. "My dad wouldn't have cared, he didn't give a shit. It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive." Indeed. An old Kentish factory worker -- in powdered form -- ain't going to gum up the works of Keith Richards.

There's a rich tradition of stars snorting foul things in rock and roll. It will take a lot more than inhaling your old man to top Ozzy Osbourne's doing a line of ants. Devotees of VH1's Behind the Music will recall the Mötley Crüe episode, in which a flabbergasted (and shockingly articulate) Nikki Six describes Osbourne's approaching a line of ants emanating from a melting Popsicle in the street. And then Ozzy snorts it. Ants.

And then there's the story -- which I'm almost certain Stevie Nicks denies -- that she had some lackey assist her in her cocaine addiction by blowing the powder, via straw, up her rectum. Some say it was to save her singing voice. Other say it was because her nose was already too ruined by the substance.

Rolling Stones spokespeople are now telling the media that Keith was actually joking, which, I suppose they are obliged to do. I don't have any proof, but I choose to believe Keith was telling the truth. Why would he make that up? It's like what Keith said about having brain surgery, after the incident where he may or may not have fallen out of a coconut tree, severely injuring that otherwise durable brain: he's got to try everything once. "Yes, I've been trepanned," he told NME:
That's quite an interesting experience, especially for my brain surgeon, who saw my thoughts flying around in my brain. I've got pictures of it mate, yeah. They cut my head, brain, skull open, went in and pulled out the crap, and put some of it back in again. But that's the way it is, I mean, shit, Keith Richards has got to do everything once.
And I don't think any of us wants to see a list of the other things Keef's tried once.

If there's a punchline to this whole affair, it's that NME is asking the big question: Who gets to snort Keith Richards when he's dead?

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