“You’re supposed to do as I say, not as I do,” notes Keith Richards in the course of his new autobiography, Life. That in itself is very good advice, given the number of people who have fruitlessly, and even fatally, attempted to ape the hard-living ways of the seemingly indestructible Rolling Stones guitarist.
Actually, Life is full of advice from the much-molested Keith brain — some of it good, some of it less obviously useful, and some of it involving crocodiles. But all of it pretty entertaining.
After the jump, you can find ten tips we gleaned from Richards’ book. Enjoy!
1. Don’t do heroin!
Of course, as the old joke goes, it’s a wonder Richards has left us with any heroin to do. But he is adamant that smack is neither a substance that gets the creative juices flowing, nor all that much fun if you happen to be addicted to it, which Lordy knows he was. “The life of a junkie is not recommended to anybody,” he writes. “I was at the top end, and that was pretty low.”
2. “Keep it down, or break it out.”
In other words, people who are doing drugs should either do so quietly so as not to disturb others — or be generous with their stash.
3. “You have to be conscious to be arrested.”
Richards distributes this pearl in the course of describing his 1977 Toronto drug bust, when policemen arrived at his hotel room but were unable to wake the guitarist due to a combination of sleep deprivation and heroin usage. The Rolling Stone notes that it took the cops 45 minutes to raise him from his junkie lumbers: “I’d been up for five days and I’d had a heavy-duty shot and I was out.”
4. When you fear a drug deal is about to go wrong, shoot out all the lights.
According to Richards, one of the big problems with scoring drugs in New York used to be that someone would try to immediately steal the aforementioned narcotics off you. The guitarist’s preferred way of dealing with this was to kick the perp in the testicles. But on a couple of occasions, Richards opted to shoot out all the lights in whatever helhole of Lower East Side apartment block he happened to be in at the time and then run like hell. “The statistics are well on your side against being hit when you’re a moving target,” says Richards. “If you look at the odds, one thousand to one, you’re going to win.” (Note: It is possible that statistics may not be Richards’ strongest suit.)
5. “There’s a difference between scratching your arse and tearing it to bits.”
Richards once offered this piece of advice to the late John Belushi, who either didn’t heed the guitarist’s words of warning or — and this seems more likely — had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
6. Mick Jagger makes terrible solo albums.
Some of Richards’ most critical words are reserved for his bandmate and, in particular, the recorded result of his decision to occasionally make albums away from the Rolling Stones mothership. “Mick’s [first] album was called She’s the Boss, which said it all,” recalls the guitarist. “I’ve never listened to the entire thing all the way through. Who has? It’s like Mein Kampf. Everybody had a copy, but nobody listened to it.”
7. “Crocodile breath. You don’t want to feel it.”
8. When cooking sausages, never preheat the pan.
“Preheating agitates them, that’s why they’re called bangers,” explains Richards, whose autobiography actually includes his recipe for bangers and mash. “Very slowly, start them off cold. And then just be prepared to have a drink and wait. And it works. It doesn’t shrivel them up; they’re plump. It’s just a matter of patience.”
9. Mynah birds are terrible pets.
After a passage in which he describes his love for dogs, Richards notes that he “once had a mynah bird, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. When I put music on, it would start yelling at me. It was like living with an ancient, fractious aunt. The f—er was never grateful for anything. Only animal I ever gave away. Maybe it got too stoned; there were a lot of guys smoking weed.”
10. People who have suffered a brain hemorrhage can’t do blow anymore.
That, at least, was the advice Richards received from his surgeon after the guitarist cracked his skull falling out of a tree in Fiji in 2006. The Rolling Stone hasn’t taken cocaine since. “Actually I’ve done so much bloody blow in my life, I don’t miss it an inch,” he writes. “It think it gave me up.”
What do you think of Keith’s Life lessons? Will you be checking out his book?