Keith Richards was born in Dartford, Kent, England and grew up there and in London, England.

Richards didn’t have much of a religious upbringing, apparently. He said:

There’s nobody in my family that ever had anything to do with organized religion… Thank God, otherwise Sundays would have been even more boring than they were… I don’t want to see my old friend Lucifer just yet. He’s the guy I’m gonna see, isn’t it? I’m not going to the Other Place, let’s face it.1

Notice how he speaks in terms of Christian cosmology. I suppose, like most English boys, the Anglican religion crept into his psyche through the culture. And it was enough to have him worrying about his place in the afterlife.

Now, Richards’ wife, Patti Hansen, is a devout born-again Christian2 but it would seem that it hasn’t rubbed off on Keith. He still claims to operate outside the boundaries of organized religion–though he is spiritual in some way:

Spirit is all around me. Very much. That’s why I did the Wingless Angels album: very spiritual music. But mine is a very nebulous spirituality. I wouldn’t care to put a name on it. I wouldn’t want to place any bets. Religion is too much like Las Vegas. ‘Oh, you’ve picked the wrong God. Sorry, it’s Allah.’ I prefer to take the larger point of view. Hey, give thanks and praise, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are.3

Speaking of his album, Wingless Angels, it is a somewhat religious work said to be inspired by a near-death experience Richards had after falling from a palm tree.45 After all the drugs and crazy rock star antics, it was a palm tree that got Keith thinking about religion.

No political satisfaction

Richards has deep roots in politics. His grandparents were civic organizers and explicit socialists.6 But his current views are a bit tough to nail down.

Richards seems to have a bit of an aversion to authority of any kind. He has said things like:

If you’re going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet.7

And:

I don’t have a problem with drugs, I have a problem with policemen.8

Interestingly, he was supportive of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, something many Brits were rather unhappy about. He wrote Prime Minister Tony Blair a letter, telling him to brush off all the criticism and stay the course. He said:

I wrote him a letter, telling him he had to stick to his guns. I got a letter back, saying: ‘Thanks for the support’.9

That seems a rather poignant show of force and authority, invading a sovereign nation and all, so perhaps Richards is just playing up the rock ‘n roll persona with all that other stuff.

Despite his support of Blair (a Labour politician), perhaps the closest thing to Richards’ socialist heritage–the modern Labour Party–doesn’t appear to be Richards’ cup of tea, really. He turned down a chance to play a Live 8 concert, benefiting Africa’s poor children, because he thought the musician Bob Geldof was too involved in the politics of the event:

I just thought the connection between Geldof and the Labour Party was just too tight, and I don’t see debt reduction as being like – it’s not going to feed the babies down there. I mean, who’s this gratifying and where are the Africans? Where was their say?”10

There’s that anti-authority thing again. Richards doesn’t like poor people being used as political currency. Fair enough, maybe it’s not a ruse. Still, what exactly he does believe is still up for question. What do you guys think?

  1. Justin Bieber Vs. Keith Richards: Comparing The Memoirs. Yahoo. []
  2. Patti Hansen: Ask Keith. []
  3. Keith Richards: The Biography by Richard Bockris. Google Books. []
  4. Keith Richards is now ‘jamming with Jehovah.’ Free Republic. []
  5. Keith Richards (II) – Biography. IMDb. []
  6. Politcally speaking, do you think Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are socialists? DC Junkies. []
  7. Keith Richards Quotes (Author of Life). Goodreads. []
  8. Keith Richards Quotes (Author of Life). Goodreads. []
  9. Keith Richards Wrote to Blair Backing Iraq War. The Wall Street Journal. []
  10. Bob Geldof’s Politics Caused Keith Richards to Refuse Live 8. Female First. []