Maureen Dowd : The Keith Richards Roller-Coaster
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
…..In a campaign season when many men — and women — are taking harsh stances that could hurt women, a chivalrous voice has at last arrived. Oddly enough, it belongs to a renegade pirate whose motto is “Keep it dark”: Keith Richards. You’d think that an only child whose mother killed all the pets he kept as companions would not grow up to be so positive about women. “I put a note on her bedroom door, with a drawing of a cat, that said ‘Murderer,’ ” Richards writes in “Life,” his new memoir. “I never forgave her for that.” His mom, Doris, who didn’t like the muss and fuss, reacted nonchalantly: “Shut up. Don’t be soft.” But the first thing he did when he began making money with a little band called the Rolling Stones was buy Mum a house.
His reaction when the Stones started to attract hordes of “feral, body-snatching girls” was not titillation but terror. “I was never more in fear for my life than I was from teenage girls,” he writes. “The ones that choked me, tore me to shreds, if you got caught in a frenzied crowd of them — it’s hard to express how frightening they could be. You’d rather be in a trench fighting the enemy than to be faced with this unstoppable killer wave of lust and desire, or whatever it is — it’s unknown even to them.” He continues: “The problem is if they get their hands on you, they don’t know what to do with you. They nearly strangled me with a necklace, one grabbed one side of it, the other grabbed the other, and they’re going, ‘Keith, Keith,’ and meanwhile they’re choking me.”
The shy English Boy Scout and choirboy who started out with “no chick in the world” describes the women he was involved with — from road flings to his manager to his ex, Anita Pallenberg — with candor but generosity. Even groupies are accorded respect. “You could look upon them more like the Red Cross,” he says. “They’d wash your clothes, they’d bathe you and stuff.” Learning that there’s a blind girl who loyally follows the band, he arranges for her to get rides from the group’s truck drivers. “I’ve been saved by chicks more times than by guys,” he writes. “Sometimes just that little hug and kiss and nothing else happens. Just keep me warm for the night, just hold on to each other when times are hard, times are rough.” The Prince of Darkness who got in trouble with feminists for “Under My Thumb” is, it turns out, a cuddler who loves strong, high-spirited women…..The biggest “seductress” in his life was heroin, he writes, which he relied on to anesthetize him from the “blah blah blah” of show business, something he did not enjoy as much as Jagger. He said he never collected women, like Jagger and Bill Wyman, or “paid for it,” or indulged women who collected rock stars. “I’ve never been able to go to bed with a woman just for sex,” writes the author, happily married for decades to the former model Patti Hansen, whom he is supporting through bladder cancer. “I’ve no interest in that. I want to hug you and kiss you and make you feel good and protect you. And get a nice note the next day, stay in touch.” The consummate gentleman. Who knew?
Keith also appeared on NPR with Terri Gross on Oct 26th 2010 –