I owe it all to my mum’s impeccable taste in music says rocker Keith Richards

Rolling Stones carry on touring because we ‘still think we’re getting better’, guitar legend tells Kirsty Young

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Keith Richards on stage in San Diego this summer. Photograph: Rich Fury/Invision/AP

The ultimate rocker – the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards – puts his success in the music business down to his mother, Doris, and her impeccable taste. She was always able to find the right sounds to listen to on the radio.

“She had unerring aim on the dial,” he tells presenter Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs today. It might sound an unlikely start for a rock’n’roll rebel like Richards, 71, but then he was a boy scout and choir boy.

The band, which formed in 1962, continues to play live, Richards explains, because “we still think we’re getting better. We could be fooling ourselves, but from the response from the audience and the way I’m feeling and the way the boys are playing, is this promise of more and I mean… who is going to jump off a moving bus?.”.

All the same, his life is calmer now. “I watch other people rebel now. That’s the image and it’s like a ball and chain, but I recognise it, and I’m in that sort of jail, but at the same time I do love the old Keith. I’m growing up, or rather, evolving. It began with grandchildren, I guess.”

Choosing the records of Hank Williams and Chuck Berry to take with him to the island, Richards also speaks frankly about his relationship with Stones’ front manMick Jagger. He was impressed by Jagger’s knowledge of American music when they met as teenagers and by the fact he sent away to Chicago for new records.

“Mick and I have a great relationship except when we don’t, which is when everybody hears about it. With Mick, I’ve felt like it’s a brother thing, and which brothers don’t fight occasionally? And we’re always fighting for the right reasons; we just think that our version is more right than the others.”

Richards married model Patti Hansen on his 40th birthday in December 1983, and the couple have two daughters. He was previously married to Anita Pallenberg, with whom he had three children together, one of whom died from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) at two months. He was criticised at the time for appearing on stage on the night of the death, but he tells Young it was the only way he could cope.

“It was such a shock at the time especially… I’m getting a phone call in Paris and this happened in Geneva, and I thought, I’m going to go mad… unless I do this show tonight.

“If I just sit here with this idea, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe it was just a sense of self-preservation… it was a rough, rough thing. I had a feeling this is a show and I must go on stage. I’ll worry and grieve and think about this all after the show.”

Richards chooses one classical track, opting for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

“I was agonising about this because Mozart is my man, but then I found out reading some of his letters that the only good word he had to say about any other composer was Vivaldi, and then I tried to put this together with being on a desert island… so I chose spring from Vivaldi.”

Richards chooses the book Doctor Dogbody’s Leg by James Norman Hall for his island stay and takes a machete as his luxury so he can build a shelter and make a fire.

Via the Guardian

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