The Story Of Keith Richards’ Almost Electrocution On Stage

The Story Of Keith Richards’ Almost Electrocution On Stage | Society Of Rock Videos

via Keith Richards / Youtube

The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, renowned for his iconic riffs and memorable songs, has also left an indelible mark with his vivid anecdotes and memorable phrases.

But among the countless shows he’s performed, one particularly stands out in Richards’ memory as the most spectacular and unforgettable. On December 3, 1965, in Sacramento, California, during a Rolling Stones concert at the Memorial Auditorium, an unexpected and dramatic incident unfolded.

As the band launched into “The Last Time,” Richards, in a moment of typical rock star fervor, struck his guitar against a mic stand. However, this seemingly innocuous act turned perilous when the stand, unknown to him, was ungrounded. The resulting electrical surge sent sparks flying and rendered Richards unconscious on the stage floor. The intensity of the explosion was so alarming that concert promoter Jeff Hughson initially feared it was an assassination attempt on Richards.

Eyewitness Mick Martin vividly recalls the harrowing moment:

“I saw the blue light. I literally saw Keith fly into the air backward. I thought he was dead. I was horrified. We all were. Silence fell over the crowd. They carried him out with oxygen tubes, and he was semi-conscious. I patted him on the shoulders and said, ‘I hope you’re going to be okay.'”

Fortunately, Richards eventually regained consciousness, all thanks to the rubber-soled boots he was wearing on stage. However, the incident served as a stark reminder of the unpredictable dangers inherent in harnessing immense electrical power for a rock performance.

Reflecting on the ordeal, Richards later recounted waking up to the nearby doctor’s grim prognosis: “Well, they either wake up or they don’t.” It was a sobering lesson for the rock legend, underscoring the risks involved in channeling high-voltage energy into electrifying performances.

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