Keith Richards first met Mick Jagger at primary school in Dartford, Kent, although they lost contact with each other when they went to different secondary schools (Keith to Dartford Technical School). Despite this separation, their friendship rekindled in July 1960 when they met onboard the same train carriage. Keith was impressed with the imported LPs that Mick was carrying, and they got talking about their shared love for rhythm and blues music. After discovering that Mick and he had a mutual friend, Dick Taylor, Keith was invited to audition for Jagger's amateur band, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.
After transferring to Sidcup Art College, he left school altogether in 1962 to follow his promising music career. The divorce of his parents around this time was hard to cope with, with Keith losing all contact with his father, Bert Richards (until 20 years later). However, he kept in close contact with his mother, Doris.
With the Rolling Stones
In 1963 The Rolling Stones's then-manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, suggested that Keith perform under the professional name, Keith Richard (dropping an 's') because it 'looked more pop'. He used this name when signing autographs and as his stage name right up until the late seventies. Another suggestion from Oldham in 1963 was that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger begin to write their own songs, as there was not much hope for The Stones if they continued to be a cover band. Keith often claims that Oldham locked Mick and him in a room until they came up with something.
One of the widest known songs that Keith has written for the Rolling Stones is the guitar riff of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", which he apparently came up with in his sleep. According to rumours, he woke up for just long enough to record the riff on a casette player, then the rest of the recording is of him snoring. Keith's long-time songwriting ability lead him to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1993.
Throughout his long career with the Stones, Keith has often provided backing vocals for Mick in the studio and live tracks. The first track where Keith provided all lead vocals was "You Got The Silver" from Let It Bleed
in 1969, but he can be heard on tracks before this, such as "Connection", "Salt of the Earth" and "Something Happened to me Yesterday". Probably Keith's most famous song for which he provides lead vocals is "Happy", released on Exile On Main Street
in 1972. It has become his signature tune and is often played live. Since 1986, every Stones studio album has had at least two tracks featuring Keith on lead vocals.
As well as rockers such as "Happy", often Keith's vocal songs are powerful ballads, especially his releases since Dirty Work
in 1986. "Coming Down Again" from Goats Head Soup
in 1973 was the first example of this, but prime examples of Keith-ballads are "Sleep Tonight" (1986), "How Can I Stop" (1997) and "Losing My Touch" (2004).
Following a fall-out with Mick Jagger over solo recording, Keith too broke off from the Stones briefly and formed the X-Pensive Winos. With this band, Keith released his first solo album, Talk is Cheap
, in 1988 which went gold in the United States. Keith even toured with the Winos, and released a second solo album with them in 1992 named Main Offender
. However, by this time the Jagger/Richards feud was well and truly over, and Keith stopped all solo work to focus entirely on the Rolling Stones.
Keith has five children by two women. His first partner (they were not married) was Anita Pallenberg, whom Keith was in a relationship with from 1967 to 1979. They have a son named Marlon, born 1969, and a daughter named Angela, born 1972. They had a third child in 1976, but he died within three months of his life. Keith married Patti Hansen in 1983, and together they had two children: Theodora (born 1985) and Alexandra (born 1986).
Keith has three homes: Redlands estate in Sussex which he purchased in 1966, a house in Weston, Connecticut, and another in the Turks and Caicos islands.
Keith's autobiography, entitled Life
, was released in October 2010.