Keith Richards Share How Arthritis Changed His Guitar Playing
Throughout the history of the Rolling Stones, one thing has remained constant: Keith Richards‘ deep love for the guitar. Even as he approaches 80, he’s still enchanted by the instrument, although arthritis has taken its toll on his hands.
Richards, who owns over a thousand guitars (though he only plays a select few on stage), finds the guitar to be a constant source of curiosity and learning. He remarks:
“The fascinating thing is that the more you play it, the less you know it. It provides you with endless questions. You can never know the whole thing. It’s impossible.”
Despite the challenges posed by arthritis, Richards believes that age has more to do with the slowdown in his playing. He shares:
“Funnily enough, I’ve no doubt it has, but I don’t have any pain, it’s a sort of benign version. I think if I’ve slowed down a little bit it’s probably due more to age. And also, I found that interesting, when I’m like, ‘I can’t quite do that any more,’ the guitar will show me there’s another way of doing it. Some finger will go one space different and a whole new door opens. And so you’re always learning. You never finish school, man.”
First New Album in 18 Years
After an 18-year hiatus, the Rolling Stones return with a new album, Hackney Diamonds. The album features a mix of hard-rocking riffs, country blues, and gospel elements, and it sounds timeless, despite Keith Richards’ signs of arthritis.
The album’s genesis occurred after the band’s 60th-anniversary tour when Mick Jagger urged them to head straight to the studio. With the help of producer Andrew Watt, the band recorded the basic tracks with a sense of urgency.
Jagger and Richards, the core of the Rolling Stones, have maintained a powerful partnership since their early days. They first crossed paths at primary school, reconnected at a train station, and formed a band that eventually became the Rolling Stones. They began as a cover band but transitioned into writing their own songs, resulting in numerous classics.
Their recent album, Hackney Diamonds, recalls the hit-and-run recording sessions of the 1960s. It was produced swiftly, with the band playing multiple songs a day, much like their live performances.
While it doesn’t delve into reflective themes, it does contain a sense of antagonism and resentment. The inspiration behind the lyrics primarily comes from Jagger, who often brings his own emotions into the music. Richards emphasizes that the singer’s connection to the material is crucial for a successful recording.
Stones Without Watts
This album is significant for being the first without the band’s drummer, Charlie Watts, who passed away in 2021. Watts had endorsed Steve Jordan as his successor, providing some comfort to the band. It also features a lineup of superstar guests, including Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Bill Wyman.
A Timeless Classic New Album
Hackney Diamonds is deliberately handcrafted, recorded in real-time, and non-computerized. Richards emphasizes his preference for vinyl, as it offers a more authentic sound compared to digital and AI-produced music.
As a respect to the blues musicians who influenced the Rolling Stones, the album ends with a tribute to Muddy Waters. Although it may appear to be the end of their 60-year career, Richards maintains it’s not, and the band intends to tour with their new work in 2019.