As far as musicians go, you don’t more enigmatic than Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. One of the most legendary figures in music history, Richards has led a life of mythical proportions. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll have forever been the key facets of his life, and duly, he has countless wild tales to tell, ranging from snorting the ashes of his father to nearly dying on stage.
However, before all the hedonism, he is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Well-versed in the blues, as well as a variety of more traditional techniques such as flamenco, his style of finger-picking is unmistakable and it has carried The Rolling Stones for 60 years, a testament to his quality as a musician.
Although Richards can be somewhat prickly when it comes to discussing other musicians, one thing is certain, when it comes to his friends, all he has is kind words. In 2016, when the band were gearing up for their Desert Trip Festival in California, he saved some rare praise for the man who is perhaps the finest songwriter of Richards’ generation: Bob Dylan.
The festival saw the band perform at the Empire Polo Club in Indio for two weekends in October alongside some of their most prominent peers Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, The Who and Roger Waters. In an interview with Q104.3, both Richards and his partner in crime, Mick Jagger, discussed the upcoming bonanza, and it was here that Richards praised Dylan.
“I thought it was Coachella for old people,” Jagger joked about Desert Trip. He then dived into the logistics of a camping festival, and when asked if he planned for the whole weekend, as the band were playing on both Friday’s, Jagger opined: “Maybe I’ll just get my RV and stay there for a bit longer.” Then, discussing the backstage vibe, Jagger anticipated that it was to be “absolutely chaotic.”
“On the Friday night, it’s going to be us and Bob Dylan, so there will be masses of musicians, actually masses of guests of all the musicians, and it’s a fun time for everyone,” he explained.
In another separate interview afterwards, Keith Richards revealed how excited he was for the festival. “How many trips can you take to the desert, man?” he quipped before adding, “The lineup is just amazing.”
“I can’t believe we’re all going to be stuck in this little town together,” the guitarist then said of the lineup. “I mean, never have we ever all in the same place at the same time.”
Clearly over the moon, Richards labelled the entire lineup his “mates” before weighing in on why he thinks they all have an inter-generational appeal, “It’s the songs. And I guess a genuineness about the feeling, about how people feel about music.”
Richards saved the best praise till last, though. Speaking of the Friday night bill featuring Bob Dylan, he wasted no time admitting just how excited he was to work with his old friend, whom he affectionately referred to as “Bobby” throughout the interview. Just happy to be hanging out with Dylan for both weekends, Richards said, “I’d work with Bob any[where]. I’d work with Bob in hell or heaven. I love him.”