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At 75 Keith Richards is Cutting Back on the Debauchery and 'Drying Out'

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger performing onstage with The Rolling Stones at Foro Sol, Mexico City in February 1998. © Fernando Aceves

The Rolling StonesKeith Richards is a man known for embodying the culture of excess that surrounds rock and roll. In fact, he was a pioneer of it. But he’s finally beginning to slow down at the age of 75 years old, which is only 32 in rock n’ roll years.

In the recent issue of Mojo magazine he reveals that he’s trying to quit smoking and cutting down on hard liquor. Like a lot of people, he’s begun the new year with an eye to get healthier. But unlike a lot of people, it comes off the back of a month long party which took place in December 2018, to celebrate his 75th birthday party. It was also his 35th wedding anniversary too.

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger performing together during the 1989 Rolling Stone Steel Wheels tour. © Eugene Adebari

In the Mojo interview Richards notes, “By January 1, you're knackered. And that's a good way to start a new year, right? I'm drying out now! I've knocked the hard stuff on the head. I have a little wine with meals, and a Guinness or a beer or two, but otherwise, no. It's like heroin, the experiment is over. Mind you, if I meet you in a bar and you say, 'Do you want a drink?' I wouldn't turn it down! I'm not a puritan in these matters. It's just that it's not on the daily menu anymore.”

Richards is also trying to quit smoking but says it’s not easy. In fact he says it’s harder than quitting heroin. "I have tried. So far, unsuccessfully.” he notes, continuing, “Lou Reed claimed nicotine was harder to quit than heroin. It is. Quitting heroin is like hell, but it's a short hell. I mean, the actual process. Cigarettes are just always there, and you've always done it.

I just pick 'em up and light 'em up without thinking about it. But lately, in fact—spread the news!—I've managed to cut it down by a substantial amount every day, and I'm still working on it. Because I realised I don't need it. I realised it's just a useless habit. But hey, when you're 75, habits are pretty ingrained.”

Keith Richards onstage during the last performance from over four nights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during The Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour in October 1989. © Eugene Adebari

He also then goes on to reveal how he keeps such a trim figure. And, well, it’s not by going to the gym regularly. Instead Richards’ secret is that he says he gets up, then he sits down. “I don't do none of this trotting around, I think it's bad for you. It's bad on the joints, especially on concrete.” He does go on to say he does do a lot of swimming though. He has a house on Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos islands and swims a lot there, which is where he held his month-long birthday celebration too.

And, of course, there’s the touring with The Rolling Stones. This year they’ll be taking their No Filter tour to the US along with bandmates Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, playing 13 stadiums over two months in the summer. Before that they’ll be in the studio to start recording their new album.

The Rolling Stones 'take a bow' on the last night of their four days at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during their Steel Wheels Tour in 1989. © Eugene Adebari

“We're in the studio in a couple of weeks, the whole kit and caboodle.” he says. “The Stones with Don Was producing, in LA. We'll have it done this year, at some point. We'll put down as much as we can for a week or so, and then we're on the road. So we'll see what happens after that.”

Along with the interview, Richards has guest edited this month’s Mojo magazine, where you can read the full interview, where he discusses some of his favourite artists including Norah Jones, Peter Tosh, Muddy Waters, Bobby Keys and The Neville Brothers.

Keith Richards rocking out in LA in 1989. © Eugene Adebari

Along with this, next month on 29 March sees the 30th anniversary reissue of Keith Richards' debut solo album Talk Is Cheap. It originally came out in October 1988, the re-release will come out as standard and deluxe editions. The album will also come with sleeve notes by American music writer Anthony De Curtis telling the story behind the album and its production.

You can find out more about the Talk is Cheap reissue here. And find out more about Keith Richards’ Mojo interview here. And to remind us all of what a legend Richards is, check out the video below of him fending off a stage invader with his Telecaster guitar before continuing to play as if nothing's happened.

This act of pure rock and roll took place at their Hampton Coliseum show in 1981. The action starts around 1:10.

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer these iconic Keith Richards and many Rolling Stones images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here and here.

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