Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards must have super powers. How else could anyone explain his frequent brushes with death involving drug overdoses, motorcycle gangs, electrocution, and even bombs? (Yes. Bombs.) Richards may not have discovered the fountain of youth with his zombie-like appearance, but he has — drunkenly — stumbled upon something worth noting.
We’ve put together a list of four times when Richards avoided the Grim Reaper and proved that he and cockroaches will be the only creatures left after the nuclear apocalypse. Here they are:
1. London Bombings During World War II
When the Nazis bombed London in 1944, Richards was just a baby. His mother evacuated him to safety outside of the city limits. When the raid ceased, they returned home. They found Richards’ childhood cot destroyed by a German V-1 bomb. Not even Hitler could faze the human oddity.
2. On-Stage Electrocution
The Rolling Stones’ career has spanned over five decades. However, only a couple years into their long tenure, the band almost lost one of their main creative forces. While playing a gig in Sacramento in 1965, the group launched into “The Last Time,” and Richards approached the microphone to sing his backing part.
It was facing the wrong way, so he attempted to knock it with his guitar neck, resulting in a near-fatal shock. In a flash of blue, Richards was knocked unconscious, and his guitar strings were burned from the accident. Richards later called the incident his “most spectacular” moment. A new pair of boots with thick rubber soles spared him, he said.
3. Trouble at Altamont (AKA Why Biker Gangs Make Terrible Security Guards)
The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was a haphazardly and carelessly organized free concert in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1969. The city’s flower child mellow was quickly harshed when Mick Jagger was punched in the head. Things escalated throughout band’s set, forcing them to stop and start songs. One fan died after pulling a gun on a member of the Hells Angels. The fighting didn’t stop after the Rolling Stones played, either. The entire event was rife with altercations.
After the show, the Stones managed to escape in a helicopter, only to learn later about the murder that had occurred. Three other accidental deaths happened as well. Richards demonstrated his impenetrable mental stamina with his immediate reaction to the event. “On the whole,” he said, “[it was] a good concert.”
4. “I’ll Put Strychnine in the Smack-amole.”
Richards has always maintained that, despite his out-of-control reputation, he was a relatively responsible drug addict. The only times he got in over his head was when he got stoned with people he didn’t trust. Richards told New Musical Express (NME) magazine about his worst drug experience: “Someone put strychnine in my dope, it was in Switzerland,” he said. “I was totally comatose but I was totally awake. I could listen to everyone, and they were like, ‘He’s dead, he’s dead!’ waving their fingers and pushing me about, and I was thinking, ‘I’m not dead!’”
If Keith Richards could bottle his (seeming) immortality and unleash it on the rest of the world, cancer would not exist, we’d have cybernetic organisms walking around, and Skynet would rule the world.
Basically, we’d live in The Terminator and Arnold Schwarzenegger would be king. We aren’t sure if that’s super awesome or super not. One thing is for sure: Keith Richards will keep coming back.
h/t: Ultimate Classic Rock