In Richards, we find hope




The Rolling Stones 60th anniversary tour is set to go ahead next year – assuming the pandemic has at last been brought under control and WD40 has been successfully applied to its members vital joints and organs.

Yet one of the world’s greatest-ever bands may never have happened at all had lead guitarist, Keith Richards, the one-time heroin addict and bad boy, not been part of the St Paul’s Cathedral boys choir.

Yes, you heard me right: Keith Richards was once a chorister!

The story of how Richards and Mick Jagger first met in Dartford and discovered their mutual love of Blues is history. What’s not quite so well known is Richards rebelled against religion after he was kicked out of St Paul’s shortly after his voice had broken.

The story is no secret, but it is largely unknown. And it demonstrates to me how much he loved what he was doing at that time and how such seemingly tiny incidents can change a life, leading someone from one extreme to the other.

Instead of continuing with a life centred on religion and spirituality, Richards chose to go down the path of rock and roll, becoming one of the most infamous addicts in the history of the music business.

He became a symbol of rebellion; castigated Jagger for accepting a knighthood; and was almost killed on several occasions after consuming a variety of drugs and booze cocktails.

Spiritual dimension

Today, the 77-year-old is a changed man. And once again, he would seem to have discovered a spiritual dimension to his life.

‘I keep picking up the Bible. which is really weird because I don’t understand it,’ he declared in a recent interview.

Married happily now for over 36 years to Patti Hansen, the daughter of a preacher man and a devout born-again Christian, Richards is the man who played one of the greatest rock solos of all time on Sympathy with the Devil, a track that saw Jagger take on the persona of Satan. That may have been the greatest mistake of the singer’s career, for it resulted in murder when Hells Angels took charge and killed a guy in the crowd.

Yet even though he says he operates outside the boundaries of organised religion, I get the feeling there is something spiritual about Keith Richards – and he is someone who can give us all hope. In my case, I am also a former drinker, who was miraculously cured and has led an alcohol-free life for the last 25 years. So when a former addict speaks I tend to listen.

Nebulous spirituality

Since the slaying of an innocent music fan, Richards has recorded a spiritual album called Wingless Angels, which he claims was inspired by a near-death experience he had after falling from a palm tree.

‘Spirit is all around me,’ he says of his journey. ‘That’s why I did the Wingless Angels album: very spiritual music. But mine is a very nebulous spirituality. I wouldn’t care to put a name on it. I wouldn’t want to place any bets.’

Who knows where Richards’ spiritual journey will end, but as the saying goes: God moves in a mysterious way!

Amen to that.



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