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Topic: Calgary Keith Article Return to archive
October 28th, 2005 11:16 AM
gimmekeef Griping Keith satisfies new fan

Robert Remington
Calgary Herald

Friday, October 28, 2005

CREDIT: Herald Archive, Canadian Press
Rolling Stone Keith Richards.

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It's not every day that you get a phone call at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday from an old heroin junkie with cast-iron innards, but there it was, the unmistakable voice, along with the occasional sound of a cigarette being inhaled like it was being worked by some rusty mechanical lung.

"This is Keith Richards," said the gravelly voice on the message. "The Stones will never play this town again."

Yeah, right. Like Keith Richards is going to pick up the phone and call a local Canuck newspaper to complain about a review.

At first I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke. But none of my friends are capable of getting out of bed at 5:30 on a Saturday, and all of them are of an age where staying up all night would kill them, unlike Keith.

An irate Stones fan? Perhaps, but it sure sounded like Keith, so I taped the message, which I still have in a drawer somewhere, and played it back for those who know. Yup, they said. That's Keith, Mr. Rock 'n' Roll himself. The only sound missing was the clink of ice cubes in a glass of bourbon.

The Stones guitarist took exception to some modest criticism of his portion of the Stones Voodoo Lounge concert at Commonwealth Stadium in 1994 and, as the editor in charge of the Stones coverage, with my phone number handily listed at the top of the page, the legendary rock warhorse decided to bitch about it.

There was no ranting or screaming, just a comment about the reviewer, that "if he don't like what I do, then there's no sense in us coming here. The Stones will never play this town again. You just think about that," and he hung up.

I've been Richards' biggest fan ever since. How can you not admire a guy who, 40 years after he woke up in a Florida motel room with the opening riff to Satisfaction in his foggy head, still cares enough about what he does to gripe to a Canadian newspaper?

Complain if you like that the Stones are long past their due date, but if you are lucky enough to have tickets to their Calgary show, count yourself blessed. I wish I could be there. It's a treat just watching the leather-faced Richards, cigarette dangling, mischievous twinkle in his eyes, doing his thing.

God, what a fantasy, to have him over the house so we could break out the electric guitars and jam, but I'm afraid he'd trash the place.

Richards is my favourite Stone because he is real. You also have to admire survivors, like crocodiles, sharks, slugs and Keith Richards. The guy should be dead 10 times over by now. His arrests for heroin possession include one in 1967 at his Sussex estate and another in Toronto in 1977 at the Harbour Castle Hotel. He wears a handcuff bracelet as a reminder to never be arrested again.

Richards' complaint of the Commonwealth Stadium Voodoo Lounge review was somewhat petulant. The reviewer never criticized Richards' originals, which he performed solo while Mick Jagger was off stage, but simply made the valid point that it interrupted the pace of the show. Yes, Keith really did say the Stones "will never play this town again," a cliche that ranks right up there with "you'll never work in this town again," but you can excuse the lack of originality. He's Keith Richards, and it was five in the morning.

For those who laugh at the thought of senior citizens like Keith still playing rock 'n' roll, get over it. They invented the stuff, and only they can write the rules on mandatory retirement age.

Rock on, Keith. Rock on.

© The Calgary Herald
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