In 2004 Keith Richards was asked by a fan via his website what his favourite movies were, to which he jokingly replied, “I’m blind!”
After laughing off his remark the rocker went on to bemoan the issues that life on the road presents when it comes to catching the latest releases. When you’re in “New Guinea”, he jokes, it’s pretty difficult to keep up with Hollywood but that does not abate his love for the art form.
“Two nights ago, I really pissed off my old lady because I stayed up all night watching Sherlock Holmes movies that were on a roll.” His love for the old black and whites does not stop there, “silent movies I love,” he declares, “I write music to them.”
This is not the only time he has made his love for the golden oldies clear. While promoting the Martin Scorsese-directed Rolling Stones concert film, Shine a Light, he ran off a list of his favourite directors to Entertainment Weekly: “I love film. D.W. Griffith. Hitchcock. William Wellman. I mean, should I go on? I know my movies.”
D.W. Griffith was the revolutionary director behind The Birth of a Nation the controversial picture that documented the formation of the Ku Klux Klan and William Willman is renowned ‘golden age’ who directed Janet Gaynor and Frederic March in an early incarnation of A Star Is Born.
Aside from his love of movies he also seems to have found his life indelibly entwined with them. Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow character is famously inspired by the guitarist and Richards has often made is admiration for both Depp and the films clear, “he did a good job on me,” he jokes.
The Rolling Stones were also the centre of a project by legendary French new wave director Jean-Luc Godard in his bizarre 1970 film Sympathy for the Devil. “Godard…I really liked his dark, French-gangster movies,” Richards declared, before adding, “I think the guy went mad. He’s a Frenchman. We can’t help them.”
The relationship with movies does not merely flow one way either. Not only are the Stones adored by those in the movie industry for the inspiration they provide and scintillating soundtrack moments, but also simply as good friends. When asked by Entertainment Weekly’s Clark Collis whether he enjoyed the company of actors and directors, Richards replied in trademark light-hearted fashion, “Yeah, because you can talk about film, I can talk about Chaplin’s reverse shots. A lot of actors are damned good musicians too. One of my best friends, in a way, is Bruce Willis. I mean, terrible movies. We know that. But a great [harmonica] player.”
Richards is also clearly very proud to have worked alongside Scorsese, adding, “I was always very aware of his films from Mean Streets on. I think he’s one of the best moviemakers.”
Whether it’s inspiring Captain Jack Sparrow or annoying his better half, Patti Hansen, with quips of “Elementary my dear Watson” the guitar god’s symbiotic relationship to cinema forms a solid cultural bond.
You can check out some bonus footage from the iconic Martin Scorsese-directed Rolling Stones documentary below.