Ladies and Gentlemen, Septuagenarian Keith Richards

Oh yes he did. The Human Riff turned 70 today.

And what a ride it’s been. For his body, for music, and for all of us. Happy Birthday Keith.

His use of silence/space, the 5-string open G Tele, playing milliseconds behind or ahead of the beat, the multitude and breadth of styles he could inhabit, the infectious grooves he could create, the heart and ‘tude he’s brought to the table all these years.

The last time I got to see Keith in concert, he was just your average 69 year old bashing out “Street Fighting Man” and crooning “You Got the Silver” on the Stones’ last U.S. and indoor date of their 50-and-counting tour. Now he’s 70. Go figure. Thanks for all the years of inspiration, and especially for all of those ‘guitar lessons’ that so many of us received from your records, interviews and live shows.

Keith in concert through the years

1972; on acoustic and backing vocals:

1978; phase shifter electric and backing vocals:

1998; as the smoky soulful crooner:

2 thoughts on “Ladies and Gentlemen, Septuagenarian Keith Richards

  1. There is definitely an underlying simplicity to Keith which I would guess plays a big part in his longevity as a musician/icon. Odd tunings, use of space and silence, a zillion different guitars, hat or head-band, most likely result from a ‘how he fells at the moment’ attitude rather than some long drawn out analysis or crunching of demographic data which is too obvious in a lot of “art” these days.

  2. Indeed. Keith’s what I would call a musical ‘primitivist’; it’s all about feel, vs. technical proficiency. It’s a term I would also apply to someone like Neil Young.

    As much of modern music has become “hit a button” to make a sound or machine-synch a rhythm; as many gifted guitar slingers go the shredder gymnastics route; and as many performers since as far back as the hair-metal 1980’s have seemed more concerned with looking “professional” on TV rather than making unpretentious tunes (that might even have a blemish or bum note, egads!), it’s good to have had musicians like Keith who have managed to cut through the BS.

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