If Keef can keep on keeping on, we all can. It’s simple – just enjoy yourself.
Keith Richards turns 79 this year and he’s probably got at least another 40 to play with.
In cricketing terms, the Rolling Stones legend is batting strongly and should reach his century.
Because if he’s come this far having lived the way he has, there’s no reason why he won’t go on, well into his 100s.
Richards has done it all and then some. He’s enjoyed a drink and cigarette for at least 60 of his 78 years, he gave heroin a real nudge in the 70s and estimates to have done so much cocaine that “it gave me up”. Plus whatever else he probably got his hands on at different stages and there was bound to be plenty.
Whatever you may think of his excesses, he certainly owns it. Richards has never bragged about going on wild 10 day benders because that’s what a wanker would do. (For those unfamiliar with the term “wanker” it basically means someone with an inflated sense of importance. You certainly don’t have to be a rock star to be a wanker.)
Nor has he done a complete 180°, gone clean and then preached to the world about the benefits of healthy living. Again – that would be venturing into serious wanker territory.
Instead, Richards has simply lived life on his own terms and it’s turned out alright. He’s quit most of his vices, the most recent being cigarettes which were apparently harder to give up than heroin. He still enjoys the odd Guinness or glass of wine because he wants to and it feels good.
No sudden fitness fads or crash cleansing diets. When once asked about what whether he was on a special diet he replied, “Yes, meat and potatoes, vodka and orange.”
The same reason the Stones have been touring for the best part of 7 decades. It’s fun and they enjoy it. It also pays bucket loads of cash, but money’s hardly the point by this stage.
Calling Richards a freak of nature is a little insulting. Even at the height of his substance intake he knew his limits and only consumed as much as he deemed necessary.
“I was very meticulous about how much I took. I’d never put more in to get a little higher.”
Those who shake their heads in disbelief at how he’s still breathing simply don’t understand that everyone has different limits. Keith’s limits have been simply higher or stronger than many others.
Notable others such as Elton John and Alice Cooper had to give everything up or they’d be pushing up daisies. They had no control over their off switch. Richards has always had a pretty good idea of how much is enough and he’s stuck with that.
Also overlooked is that Richards has been doing what he loves for almost as long as he’s been alive. His mother gave him his first guitar when he was 13 and he’s played pretty much every day since then. Yes, there have been times when he probably wanted to bludgeon Mick Jagger with said guitar, but it’s all part of the creative process and all that.
Richards is one of the incredibly lucky few to have spent his life immersed in his passion and getting all the perks that come with it. This has as much do to with his immortality as his rhino-like constitution.
He’s not lonely. Four children with five grandchildren keeps him happy and occupied, as does being married to his best pal/wife for forty years.
Not all of us can make a fortune doing what we love, but we could worse than giving his principles some serious thought.
Do something that makes you happy every day. If something doesn’t make you happy don’t do it. Value family and friends. Don’t fuss or worry about diet or drinking too much, just don’t be stupid with it.
And maybe the greatest quality is Richards’ refreshing bluntness.
On Mick Jagger: “He’s a snob but your friends don’t have to be perfect.”
On the Beatles Sergeant Pepper album: “A mishmash of rubbish.”
On rap: “So many words, so little said.”
He couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss what people think, which is surely marvelous for keeping stress and anxiety at bay.
Who cares, don’t worry, life is short, keep it simple but maybe give heroin a miss.
The next time you’re agonizing over whether to open a packet of chips, have another wine or take up samba lessons, just ask yourself – what would Keith do?