From Chuck Berry to The Beach Boys: Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ ‘Life’ in 302 songs
There are few artist with the same rock ‘n’ roll credentials as Keith Richards. The hardened heartbeat of The Rolling Stones he wasn’t just the band’s lead guitarist but their de facto leader. As able to shimmy his way through perfect guitar lick as he was able to snort his way through most of Colombia, Richards’ reputation for being a wild man of rock usually precedes him. It also usually takes the attention away from one thing—Keith Richards is a student of music.
Though he’s famed for being a rocker, and rightly so, Richards has always had his ears open for the finest grooves on the planet. Throughout his life, he has been a willing receptacle for some of the brightest talents around and has never been afraid to share his opinion on what he deems to be good and bad music. Naturally, in his 2010 memoir Life, Richards is happy to discuss all types of music that has, in one way or another, shaped his life. Below, we’re excited to bring you the behemoth 302-track playlist that picks up every single song that Richards’ mentions in the book.
Keith Richards, when considering anything in the rock ‘n’ roll world, usually does it bigger and better. Whether it is riffs or rails of cocaine, the chances are good old Keef has done it way before you. In Life, his sensational memoir, Richards broke the seal and opened up a treasure trove of incredible stories from his time on the road.
The book is full of revelations that would give certain stars an entire career, while for Richards they act as funny tidbits. Like the time he and John Lennon took an LSD road trip to Lyme Regis or when he once became the live-in nanny of a young child while on tour in Australia. It really is all in here.
Throughout the book, Richards offers plenty of his thoughts on the bands and artists that inspired him, as well as how he met Mick Jagger for the first time. It’s a piece of his and The Rolling Stones’ iconography that should be devoured at your earliest opportunity. When you are picking up the book to have a read, one thing that should certainly be coming out of your speakers is this equally impressive playlist of every band or artists Richards mentions in the book. Made by user ‘miller.eh’, the playlist is packed full of inspirational artists.
Naturally, the playlist includes nods to his heroes including Chuck Berry about whom Richards said: “When I started, all I wanted to do was play like Chuck [Berry]. I thought if I could do that, I’d be the happiest man in the world,” Richards once remarked of the iconic rock and roller. Speaking with Rolling Stone he shed some more light on the moment Berry spoke to him and the performance he gave on a landmark film. “When I saw Chuck Berry in Jazz on a Summer’s Day as a teenager, what struck me was how he was playing against the grain with a bunch of jazz guys,” the avid jazz-lover himself, the dissent sparked life into an idea for Richards.
“They were brilliant — guys like Jo Jones on drums and Jack Teagarden on trombone — but they had that jazz attitude cats put on sometimes: ‘Ooh… this rock and roll…’ With ‘Sweet Little Sixteen,’ Chuck took them all by storm and played against their animosity.” The guitarist mused, “To me, that’s blues. That’s the attitude and the guts it takes. That’s what I wanted to be”.
As likely to be included as the aforementioned Granddaddy of rock, Berry is Richards’ own band The Rolling Stones, who he obviously mentions on many occasions throughout the book. There are also nods of the head to bands such as The Spencer Davis Group, Otis Redding (whose cover of ‘Satisfaction’ is arguably the best) and The Beach Boys. But, if rock’s not your thing, then you needn’t worry, Richards also talks about his love of reggae and roots music.
Over 302 tracks and round about 14 hours, Richards provides the listener with everything they need to know about one of the most engrossing guitarists of all time. Though he may have written the book on his life, the truth is, it was always easier to understand Keef through the music. Below, you can do just that.