(LOOTPRESS) – English singer/songwriter and longtime Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards celebrates his 79th birthday today.
Richards, along with frontman Mick Jagger, makes up one half of the Jagger/Richards songwriting partnership responsible for the bulk of The Rolling Stones’ creative output. The partnership has become one of the most successful in the history of popular music, not dissimilar to that of contemporaries Lennon/McCartney.
The Dartford native’s musicianship, attitude, and public image have contributed heavily to the developmental arc of rock & roll both as a musical genre and as a cultural phenomenon.
Richards’ distinct playing style – known for its utilization of syncopated rhythms and alternate tunings, particularly the open G tuning – revolutionized the approach to electric guitar playing for musicians the world over.
A longtime vocal contributor to his band, Richards’ backing vocals have played a key role in the establishment of The Rolling Stones’ signature sound since early on in the band’s career.
Furthermore, beginning with his performance of “You Got the Silver” for 1969’s Let It Bleed, it has become customary for Richards to take at least one lead vocal on every subsequent Rolling Stones album. This tradition has spilled over into the band’s live performances, which normally feature at least one lead vocal performance from the guitarist as well.
The songwriter further demonstrated his capabilities as a frontman with the release of his debut solo album Talk Is Cheap in 1988 which was followed by 1992’s Main Offender and, more recently, 2005’s Crosseyed Heart.
Stylistically, Richards has acted as the driving force of much of The Rolling Stones’ most enduring work, with 1972’s career-defining double LP Exile On Main St. serving as a particularly felicitous example.
Other instances within the band’s sprawling catalogue featuring Richards as the primary creative force include “Ruby Tuesday,” “Happy,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” and “Gimme Shelter,” among others.
Aside from his extensive musical output, Richards has explored other professional ventures such as writing – releasing his autobiography Life in 2010 – and acting – starring in three films from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as Captain Teague, the father of Johnny Depp’s popular Jack Sparrow character which itself was inspired and greatly influenced by Richards.
Richards’ December 18th birthday notably coincides precisely with that of Texas-born saxophonist Bobby Keys, a close friend and collaborator of Richards’ until his passing in 2010. Richard’s acknowledged Keys in a rare public statement Saturday ahead of his 79th birthday.
“As our birthdays arrive, I always think of my ‘brother’, Bobby Keys with whom I share the same birthday!,” wrote the guitarist. “Always on my mind and remembering the best times! Dec 18, 1943 Happy Birthday, Bob!”
Despite having already left an impact both indispensable and indisputable on the worlds of music and culture, the legendary songsmith – in keeping with his almost mythological perseverance and tenacity – shows no signs of slowing down as The Rolling Stones continue to work and tour extensively even following the devastating passing of beloved drummer Charlie Watts who had played with the group for nearly 60 years.
“There’s that word, ‘retiring,’ I can’t retire until I croak,” the guitarist wrote in his memoir. “I’m not here just to make records and money. I’m here to say something and to touch other people, sometimes in a cry of desperation.”
The Rolling Stones newest release GRRR Live! is set to hit shelves on February 10th, 2023, and is described by the band as “the definitive concert film recorded on one of the most memorable shows in the Rolling Stones history.”
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