Keith Richards Quotes

1. If you don't know the blues...there's no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.

2. I've never had a problem with drugs. I've had problems with the police.

3. Everyone talks about rock these days; the problem is they forget about the roll.

4. I only get ill when I give up drugs.

5. I look for ambiguity when I'm writing because life is ambiguous.

6. You've got the sun, you've got the moon, and you've got the Rolling Stones.

7. It's great to be here. It's great to be anywhere.

8. Let me be clear about this. I don't have a drug problem. I have a police problem.

9. The only things Mick and I disagree about is the band, the music and what we do.

10. The Stones in a club is still the ultimate rush.

11. Good music comes out of people playing together, knowing what they want to do and going for it. You have to sweat over it and bug it to death. You can't do it by pushing buttons and watching a TV screen.

12. I never thought I was wasted, but I probably was.

13. Rock and Roll: Music for the neck downwards.

14. It's an addiction... and addiction is something I should know something about.

15. There's no substitute for live work to keep a band together.

16. Everybody's got a different way of telling a story - and has different stories to tell.

17. And it was a very, very fruitful and great relationship between the Stones and The Beatles. It was very, very friendly.

18. Another thing to do with the blues is how they were recorded. They were done on the quick, and some of that stuff was made on wire, not even tape, let alone digital.

19. Hey, we just enjoy it. I think we think we're getting the hang of this thing, you know?

20. I don't trust doctors. It's not to say there ain't some good ones, but on a general level, no, I wouldn't trust 'em at all.

21. I achieved everything I wanted to achieve by being in the Rolling Stones and making records.

22. I mean some doctor told me I had six months to live and I went to their funeral.

23. I mean, give me a guitar, give me a piano, give me a broom and string, I wouldn't get bored anywhere.

24. I have no idea what the audience makes of me.

25. I've always been suspicious of TV, I've always found music and video to be an unhappy marriage.

26. I've never had my hair cut by anybody, I do it all myself.

27. If you say I'm great, thank you very much. But I know what I am. I could be better, man, you know?

28. If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use both feet.

29. Songwriting's a weird game. 

30. The Beatles were basically a vocal band.

31. To make a rock'n'roll record, technology is the least important thing.

32. This is the rock 'n' roll life, and you had to invent it as you went along. There was no textbook to say how you operate this machinery.

33. When I listen to what I did under the influence - 10 years of work - I don't think it either enhanced or impaired me. It didn't have that much to do with it.

34. To me, my biggest fear is getting a big head, and that is when I get the hammer. Because it's very easy in this game to believe you're something special.

35. To me, as long as we've known each other, I've always thought Mick's most brilliant thing was that he could work in an area two foot square and give a very exciting performance.

36. Yes, I've been trepanned. That's quite an interesting experience, especially for my brain surgeon, who saw my thoughts flying around in my brain.

37. You didn't know whether Chuck Berry was black or white - it was not a concern.

38. When you're supported by millions all over the world, you can either go nuts, or try to feed off the goodwill.

39. You don't start to play your guitar thinking you're going to be running an organisation that will maybe generate millions.

40. You get onstage and make other people feel happy. Make them feel good.

41. You know, the BBC had not been particularly generous in its deliverance of blues and esoteric kinds of music.

42. So far, so good.

43. There's a canvas, it's called silence. Where do you want to make your mark? A little dab here? And don't forget, don't cover the whole canvas - we don't want a Rubens here!

44. I don't wave a flag for anything. I'm a musician.

45. To learn the blues, it takes a while, and you never stop. What did I learn? I learnt how to learn the blues, but I ain't stopped.

46. As you get older, younger people think you know where it's at. But it's a forlorn hope. Because everybody's growing up at the same time, you know? Somebody who's fifty, by the time he's fifty-five, he's done a whole lot more shit. That's what I've realized - Jesus Christ, these people think I know what I'm doing. Okay, I'll fool them! But at the same time, you know it's a bluff. The important thing is what comes next, and are you ready for it?

47. Some of it, you really want to unlearn.

48. Chuck Berry is food - the man who brought you "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Too Much Monkey Business," "Roll Over Beethoven." Unfortunately, his biggest-selling record was "My Ding-a-Ling." But that's his own preoccupation; I don't want to go there.

49. Rock 'n' roll's great weapon is humor.

50. I love to play lead, too, but I like to sneak in, which is why I love to play with Ronnie (Wood). With a quick nod and a wink, we can switch over in what we call the ancient form of weaving. It's a druidic sort of thing, we like to think, very mystical - ha!

51. I'm an unpure purist, something like that.

52. Electric is another instrument. Yeah, it looks the same and you've got to make the same moves, but you have to learn how to tame the beast. Because it is a monster.

53. Drugs, I think people make far too much of it.

54. When I was doing drugs, it would be the finest stuff you can get. If I was doing opium, it would be good Thai opium. When I did smack, it would be pure, pure heroin - no street shit. I wasn't undiscerning, except when I got desperate.

55. I learned how to puke properly. First, find a receptacle if you can - that's rule number one. You eject it in a stream - a Technicolor yawn, parking a tiger. At the same time, you're taking a crap. Which is kind of difficult to do. If you can do that, I'll put you in Cirque du Soleil.

56. There's this perennial thing that people have - how do you do it? Why do you do it? Like it's - what do you do? How do you go to an office every day? Compared to that, my job is easy.

57. Unless you really want to do this all the time, don't jump in the pond. There's piranhas in there, for Christ sakes.

58. Women are a beautiful complication, and I look forward to far more beauties and far more complications.

59. I've done a lot of dadding. Whoo, I tell you what - it grows you up pretty quick when that little bugger starts waking up. Suddenly there's this little cute ball of stuff yelling its head off - boom! Snap to! Oh, man, I better take care of this.

60. Daughters are far easier to bring up. My first was Marlon, my son, and he gave me a good fight, man. He would drag my ass sometimes, before I could talk to him and instill the wisdom of not doing that.

61. I occasionally borrow pot from my kids. They do a little weed occasionally. "Here, Dad" - or more likely: "Dad, have you got any?"

62. Poison's not bad. It's a matter of how much.

63. To me, smack is the big deal. That is such a cheeky, cheeky, cheeky little drug. That one can get you right by the tail before you know it, man. It's a real leveler. I'm a f... superstar, but when I want the stuff, baby, I'm down on the ground with the rest of them. Your whole lifestyle becomes just waiting for the man and talking to junkies about whether the shit's good or not - "It's not as good as the last lot, is it? I'm not going to pay him then." And guys pulling shooters on you: "Give me your stuff!" and all that. You just become a wreck. Which is kind of disgusting in a way, but at the same time, I can't say I regret going there.

64. Quite honestly, you're probably in a den of madmen. For some weird reason, we've been given extra leash.

65. You can't believe how great this job is. I'll do it as long as people want to listen to it.

66. Some guys have a hard way of saying I love you.

67. Been there, done that.

68. Whatever side I take, I know well that I will be blamed.

69. Mick has to get up in the morning with a plan. Who he's going to call, what he's going to eat, where he's going to go. Me, I wake up, praise the Lord, then make sure all the phones are turned off. If we were a mum-and-pop operation, then he'd be Mum.

70. When I grew up, I listened to older stuff too…My own kids went through their teenage raving stuff. Then, in the last two or three years, my daughter started playing Ella Fitzgerald and Muddy Waters. There's something about music. When you like it, you want to find out where it came from.

71. John Lennon did that, too...He seemed to be in competition with me over drugs, and I never really understood that.

72. Oh yeah, I smoke like a chimney.

73. You don't find a style...a style finds you.

74. Some children go home with no one to help with school work. If a child is academically struggling they're not going to do (their homework).

75. I broke three, actually. And punctured a lung. And it's a ludicrous story, really.

76. Mick playing great guitar helped…I sleep downstairs and the studio is upstairs. One night I thought I was hearing this old Muddy Waters track I didn't know, but it turned out to be Mick working on a slide part for Back of my Hand . He's always been a good, smooth acoustic player, but the electric seemed like an untamed beast for him until this year. When I heard him this time I thought: "My God! The boy's finally got it".

77. I remember a sense of doom when our first record got in the top 20. It was conventional wisdom at the time that it would all be over in two years.

78. Getting old is a fascinating thing. The older you get, the older you want to get.

79. Who is this gratifying and where were the Africans?

80. It's called the mysterious rhythm of life…I can't quite account for it. It's probably an addiction, quite honestly. I need that shot of stage every two or three years.

81. It certainly shocked me when someone pointed out last year that it had been so long (between albums)…I gave Mick a call, and he said: "It's time to get moving again."

82. I thought it was about time he owned up and stepped out of that closed shell. I knew he went through bad periods, even if he didn't want to write about it. I used to wrestle with that too. As a writer, you don't want to bore people with your own story. But you eventually realize that you're not the only one who is lonely or having problems.

83. As Charlie put it: "One minute I'm standing at Ronnie Scott's getting a standing ovation and the next minute, I'm on a marble slab"

84. In a strange way, albums can take on their own personality.

85. This one said to us: don't put on the violins, forget the marzipan, candles and icing and leave me alone. And for once we obeyed.

86. Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.

87. When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.

88. I've never had inner turmoil about all this. You find a lot of people these days who cannot stand to be alone. You could lock me up in solitary for weeks on end, and I'd keep myself amused.

89. Why would you want to be anything else if you're Mick Jagger?

90. Some people think I'm a mythical genius, others think I'm a junkie madman.

91. Preaching is tax free. Very little to do with God, a lot to do with money.

92. There's something beautifully friendly and elevating about a bunch of guys playing music together. This wonderful little world that is unassailable. It's really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it's all for one purpose, and there's no flies in the ointment, for a while. And nobody conducting, it's all up to you. It's really jazz - that's the big secret. Rock and roll ain't nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.

93. I firmly believe if you want to be a guitar player, you better start on acoustic and then graduate to electric. Don’t think you’re going to be Townshend or Hendrix just because you can go wee wee wah wah, and all the electronic tricks of the trade. First you’ve got to know that f... And you go to bed with it. If there’s no babe around, you sleep with it. She’s just the right shape.

94. I like it here in Austin. Anybody got a room?

95. (John) Belushi was an extreme experience even by my standards.

96. In fact, I take the view that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn't bother to spring for two joints - heaven and hell. They're the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mummy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and a kiss and play your harps. Hell is the same place - no fire and brimstone - but they all pass by and don't see you. There's nothing, no recognition. You're waving: "It's me, your father," but you're invisible. You're on a cloud, you've got your harp, but you can't play with nobody because they don't see you. That's hell.

97. Memory is fiction.

98. But I'm not here just to make records and money. I'm here to say something and to touch other people, sometimes in a cry of desperation: "Do you know this feeling?

99. Love has sold more songs than you've had hot dinners.

100. I'm all for a quiet life. I just didn't get one.

101. One of the great things about songwrighting; it's not an intellectual experience

102. A familiar Gusism was to greet a friend with "Hello, don't be a c... all your life"

103. I’m Sagittarius, half-man, half-horse, with a license to shit in the street.

104. In the business of crime there’s two people involved, and that’s the criminal and the cops. It’s in both their interests to keep crime a business, otherwise they’re both out of a job.

105. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up in little bits of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared. It went down pretty well and I’m still alive.

106. I’ve never turned blue in someone else’s bathroom. I consider that the height of bad manners.

107. My epitaph will be: "F... ! I told you I wasn’t feeling well!"

108. Love wears a white Stetson.

109. I don’t sit in trees anymore.

110. I’ve got nothing against daylight. I don’t live totally nocturnally. Only when I feel like it. Which is most of the time.

111. I hate predictions. They never turn out when I make them.

112. I read the Bible sometimes, but it bores me to death. I just want to know what other people find so bloody fascinating.

113. Playing live with the Stones is like living in your own separate country. It’s like having an empire but no land.

114. What is life but playing with time?

115. Music is a necessity. After food, air, water and warmth, music is the next necessity of life.

116. We all have our own personal laboratories. Life is an experiment, and it’s just a matter of getting the alchemical or chemical combination right.

117. To me, life is a wild animal. You hope to deal with it when it leaps at you.

118. I'd play whenever I could get my hands on an electric guitar; I was trying to pick up rock'n'roll riffs and electric blues-the latest Muddy Waters. I'd spend hours and hours on the same track, back again, and back again. 

119. What interested me about Chuck Berry was the way he could step out of the rhythm part with such ease, throwing in a nice, simple riff, and then drop straight into the feel of it again. We used to play a lot more rhythm stuff. We'd do away with the differences between lead and rhythm guitar. You can't go into a shop and ask for a "lead guitar". You're a guitar player, and you play a guitar. 

120. I thought it was ludicrous to take one of those gongs from the's not what the Stones is about, is it? I don't want to step out on stage with someone wearing a f... coronet and sporting the old ermine. I told Mick, It's a f... paltry honour. (commenting on Mick Jagger receiving a Knighthood in 2003 - BBC April 4, 2007).

121. There are certain guys that are band players and there's certain guys that ain't. If there's anybody lazier than me, it's Eric (Clapton). (Mojo Magazine)

122. I looked upon myself, in a sort of romantic and silly way, as like a laboratory. (on his drug-taking past - Rolling Stone)

123. I was number one on the Who's Likely To Die list for 10 years. I mean, I was really disappointed when I fell off the list. (NME)

124. The idea of retiring is like killing yourself. It's almost like Hari Kari. I intend to live to a 100 and go down in history.  (BBC Newsnight 2005)

125. I don't encourage anybody to do what I do, you know? Why should you? More for me! (Interview - 2006)
What do you think of Keith Richards quotes?

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