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Feb. 9 2010 - 5:10 pm | 3,404 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments

Keith Richards quits drinking…

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones gestures ...

Jet-Set Hobo reels in shock.

‘Sir’ Mick Jagger accepting a knighthood and becoming a gym junkie was one thing. Ron Wood making a fool of himself over nubile Russians is another. All too predictable. Jagger always was the business man of the group, and Ron, well, he’s your true sex-addicted satyr. And fair play to ‘em both. Far be it for me to ridicule a man because of his vices.

But according to both The Guardian and The Sun, the man famous (among other things) for being surgically attached to a bottle of Jack Daniels has finally kicked the sauce, and has been teetotal for at least four months.

You’ll know if you check the links, that the Sun and the Graunian headlines are a couple of weeks old. I only found them because, bored, I was led there by not particularly interesting story about that puppyish hero-worshipper Johnny Depp making a film about another of his bad boy role models.

Still, I don’t know how I can have missed this staggering development, unless I was, well, pissed at the time. As in pissed drunk, my American readers. But there you are. The man whose commitment to growing old disgracefully seemed never to be in question, has apparently embraced sobriety, and found it surprisingly refreshing, like a crisp Chablis. Or not, as the case may be.

Not that I’ve been doing much boozing, this week at any rate. You can well imagine that, especially after the Lebanon, my first week back in dear old Blighty, was awash in ale and red wine. ‘Soho, how I love you, how I love you, my dear old Soho’… But early one morning this week, after sloshing back a bottle of Jack Daniels, I fell out of a coconut tree and cracked my head open. Not quite. I was fumbling around for some aspirin in the half darkness, when I slipped, skidded, crashed, and broke the big toe on my left foot. After a fair bit of procrastination, I went to the A&E section of Britain’s over-extended National Health Service, where they gave me a crutch, some painkillers and told me to invest in a pair of comfortable shoes.

And now this …sobering news. It’s the thin edge of the wedge, I can tell you.


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  1. collapse expand

    Heh, love it. Fumbling around for some ‘aspirin’ were we old chum :)

  2. collapse expand

    Puppyish hero-worshipper indeed! You’re just jealous because he’s the same age as you…

    • collapse expand

      Hey, if I went around being jealous of everyone the same age as me I’d never have time to get anything done. But that’s to be obtuse. I understand the point you’re making. Still, it’s a little facile to assume that just because Johnny Depp is a highly successful actor and I’m only an intermittently employed one, that ‘puppyish hero-worshipper’ doesn’t sum him up pretty neatly. And can he do the “In a world” voice as well as I? I think not.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    I have a theory about this. I heard through the grapevine from some roadies that Keith was snorting a lot of coke when he played here a few years ago. Anybody who’s done coke while drinking heavily knows that the speed-like high of good coke will sharpen you up, so you don’t talk (or play guitar) as sloppy as if you were just drunk.

    I heard that after Keith fell out of the tree, he was put on some serious medication that made him quit snorting coke. Shortly after that there was a report of Keith falling off a stage in Denmark (or somewhere close to there), and not playing as well as usual.

    Then later that year, the Shine A Light film was shot. Keith’s playing in that is noticeably more ragged than it usually is – Ronnie is actually playing a lot of Keith’s chunky rhythm parts, and Keith is noodling over it with leads. Its usually the other way round. The chunky rhythm parts are generally a lot harder to play.

    Remember, this all just my theory, and some of its just based on heresay, but I’m a huge Stones fan and pay close attention to Keith in particular. I’ll be raising my glass of JD to Keith tonight when I plug in.

  4. collapse expand

    This is probably not great news: Keith’s body has become accustomed to functioning at a pretty high level with high-levels of booze coursing through his system; taking that away at this point can have deleterious effects.

    I am not a doctor (though I’ve played one on IRC), but that seems like a Board-certified justification …

    • collapse expand

      And I’m not a spy, but I’ve played one on the telly. The days are long gone when I held a degree in street pharmacology, but sneakingly I have to admire Keef for sticking in there as long as he did. Maybe he looked to the example of his old faxing partner Hunter Thompson. Apparently not long before he died, Thompson was told he could live longer and healthier if he kicked the booze and moved to a warmer climate. But he chose instead to shoot a hole through his forehead while his infant grandson played in the room next door. Shame. Maybe by reforming even this late in the game, the Human Riff will end up the old bluesman sitting on a porch playing bottleneck guitar that he’s always seem destined to be, instead of yet another cautionary tale. Well, I hope so.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    I have never worked as a secret agent, but I did play one on TV: KGB spy Sergei Kukushkin in mini series The Company. More recently I played a debauched aristocrat in a tasty short film called Last Night in Buenos Aires. I was also the voice of the monster Buffalord in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, believe it or not. In 'real life' I am a Travel Writer, Scriptwriter, After-Dinner Speaker, Entrepreneur and man-about-many-towns who has written and produced television for Fox Networks UK, the UK Sci-Fi Channel and New Zealand animation facility The Funny Farm. I have also edited or contributed to numerous guidebooks, to cities like Buenos Aires, Florence and London - as well as dear old Budapest of course. Between December and February I was Guest Editor at Time Out Beirut. I have also been fortunate enough to write about travel (and whatever else moves me) for True/Slant as 'The Jet-Set Hobo.' Well, it seemed a fun way to sum up what might laughingly be referred to as my lifestyle, and the label has stuck. There are worse appellations, don't you think?

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