When you’re Keith Richards, you’ll always have people throwing themselves at you. Even now, as he’s a crusty old man, you’ll still find plenty of people who would happily take advantage of a night alone with the Rolling Stone guitarist. That might be a gross thought for the rest of mankind, but it’s true.
Back in the 1970s, even when he was the epitome of rough and tumble magnetic rock and roll, Richards was always going to be bested in the looks department by his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg.
A German-Italian model and actress who had logged time with Andy Warhol in The Factory and had traveled the world by the time she landed in Britain and befriended the Stones, Pallenberg was tall, gorgeous, and fiercely intelligent. “She knew everything and she could say it in five languages,” Richards later said. “She scared the pants off me”.
Pallenberg was initially in a relationship with Brian Jones, but as Jones began to drift into a haze of drugs and the two became mutually abusive, Pallenberg jumped ship and gravitated towards Richards. Friendly while Pallenberg and Jones were a couple, Richards intimates in his autobiography Life that Jones never forgave him once he and Pallenberg became a couple and the separation led him deeper into drug abuse.
Ultimately, Richards and Pallenberg would have three children together, including a son named Marlon. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Richards chose it after a fateful encounter with legendary actor Marlon Brando. While Pallenberg was filming the 1968 film Candy with Brando, attempted to seduce the actress. “He kidnapped [Pallenberg] one night and read her poetry and, when that failed, tried to seduce Anita and me together,” Richards remembered in Life.
The attempt was unsuccessful, but the couple recalled the incident with a laugh when Pallenberg became pregnant a year later. In honour of the bizarre courtship, Richards and Pallenberg decided to name their new son Marlon Richards. Around the time he learned Pallenberg was pregnant, Richards composed the song ‘Country Honk’ with Mick Jagger, which would later morph into the band’s trans-Atlantic number one hit, ‘Honky Tonk Women’.