Back in 1989, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was seen as an ageing rocker. 30 years later and he’s seen as an ageless legend. While in the late eighties he may have been a rockstar apparently on his way out of the hedonistic lifestyle, he was still setting trends. Namely, the dislike of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
At the time the Rolling Stones were coming to the end of their massive Steel Wheels tour with a huge pay-per-view show to increase the massive cash-in opportunity. The only problem was that the only venue they could find was Donald Trump’s Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. With Richards vitriolic hate of Trump known by most of the band, then Rolling Stones manager Michael Cohl had a lot of work to do to ensure smooth sailing.
He told a Pollstar event: “I opened my big mouth in the meeting with The Rolling Stones where they go, ‘This is all great, but we’re not going to be affiliated with Donald Trump. At all. Screw you’. And I go, ‘I will control Donald Trump! Don’t you worry!'”
With the band confident in their manager’s ability to control a situation, they agreed to the venue and signed the contract to have their next gig at Trump’s casino. With that flick of a pen, the biggest band on the planet was set on a collision course with the monstrous ego of the future Republican Party leader. It would not go well.
The band were getting ready for an interview, set at a specific time to get as many contacts in the press room at one time as possible, when they learnt that the room had been occupied by somebody else. Yes, you guessed it, Trump had taken the room, as Cohl explains: “I give him the [come here gesture]. ‘Come on, Donald, what are you doing? A) You promised us you wouldn’t even be here and, B) you promised you would never do this’. He says, ‘But they begged me to go up, Michael! They begged me to go up!’ I say, ‘Stop it. Stop it. This could be crazy. Do what you said you would. Don’t make a liar of yourself’.”
While this confrontation creates an imagery of a petulant and oblivious Trump that is all too easy to conjure up, the real drama would unfold once Cohl told the Rolling Stones, and more notably, Keith Richards.
Cohl later said: “They call me back, at which point Keith pulls out his knife and slams it on the table and says, ‘What the hell do I have you for? Do I have to go over there and fire him myself? One of us is leaving the building – either him, or us’. I said, ‘No. I’ll go do it. Don’t you worry’.”
Possibly embodying his future role as the ultimate pirate father, Captain Jack Sparrow’s dad in Pirates of the Caribbean, we’re enjoying the thought of a half-cut Richards with a knife between his teeth, threatening a swashbuckling ass-whooping for Donald.
The moral of the story? Keith Richards is a bonafide rock and roll pirate.