Keith Richards shares a litany of legendary tales throughout the pages of his autobiography Life. There’s the time he stayed up for five days straight to record Some Girls’ ‘Before They Make Me Run’. There’s the time he mixed in his father’s ashes with cocaine and snorted them up his nose. There’s the time he fell asleep and crashed his Bentley in 1976… with his five-year-old son Marlon in the back. But Richards led with one of his most harrowing tales.
At the very start of the book, Richards describes driving through the southern United States while on The Rolling Stones’ 1975 tour. Accompanying Richards was his partner in crime Ronnie Wood, friend Freddie Sessler, and head of security Jim Callaghan. And also a metric ton of drugs.
“Here we are driving back roads in a brand-new yellow Chevrolet Impala,” Richards explains. “In the whole world of the United States, there was probably no sillier place to stop with a car full of drugs — a conservative, redneck southern community not happy to welcome different-looking strangers.”
But that’s exactly where Richards found himself when he and his posse stopped at the 4-Dice Restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas. Richards and Wood weren’t even there five minutes before they went off to the bathroom to get high. “We didn’t fancy the clientele out there, or the food, so we hung out in the john, laughing and carrying on. We sat there for forty minutes. And you don’t do that there. Not then. That’s what excited and exacerbated the situation. And the staff called the cops.”
Before they knew it, a squadron of southern police pulled over the yellow Chevy with loads of pills and powders stuffed in between the panelling. Richards was carrying: “I had a denim cap with all these pockets in it that were filled with dope. Everything was filled with dope. In the car doors themselves, all you had to do was pop the panels, and there were plastic bags full of coke and grass, peyote and mescaline.”
Richards and Wood managed to stash or ditch most of the illicit substances, but it didn’t take long for the officers to start tearing apart the car. It was within Sessler’s briefcase that they found two small pharmaceutical containers of cocaine. Unfortunately for the cops, it was determined that the cocaine was found as part of an illegal seizure of personal property. Even more worrisome was that a crowd began to gather outside the courthouse chanting “Free Keith!”
All told, Richards only wound up paying $162.50 for a reckless driving misdemeanour charge. Sessler was held, but the band’s lawyer paid his $5,000 bail and the cocaine was dismissed on legal grounds. Despite being caught red-handed in the worst possible place, Richards once again escaped the hands of the law, and The Rolling Stones were free to play the next night in Dallas.
Just another wild ride in the life of The Worlds Most Dangerous Rock Band.