Keith Richards: Under the Influence

Synopsis: A portrait of Keith Richards that takes us on a journey to discover the genesis of his sound as a songwriter, guitarist and performer.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Morgan Neville
Production: Radical Media
  3 nominations.
81 min

Life's a funny thing, you know.

But I've always thought 30 was about it.

Beyond that would be

horrible to be alive.

Until I got to be 31.

Then, "Why, I ain't so shabby," you know.


"I'll hang in a while."

As you go along, you realize that

this whole concept of growing up is...

You're not grown up until the day

they put you six feet under.

You're never grown up.

["Blue and Lonesome" playing]

I'm blue and lonesome

As a man can be

I'm blue and lonesome


As a man can be

You don't get bluer than that.

Man, that's bad stuff.

I don't have headaches over myself

[Richards] The power of the blues

was a mind blower.

My love is gone away from me

Anybody who could make a sound like that

is all right with me.

[chuckles] You know what I mean?

For me, music is like

the center of everything.

It's something that binds people together

through centuries, through millennium.

It's undefinable.

And nobody's ever

going to have the answer to it,

but it's great fun exploring.

[Richards chuckles]

-Anthony, how are you?

-How are you?

-[Richards] Cool, man.

-Once again.

Once more into the breach.

[Richards] How you been, Anthony?

-I'm very well, thank you.


So, Keith, I've been enjoying

your new music.

Why don't you tell me a little bit

about getting it going?

You know, what made you

decide to jump back in?

I've been thinking about that.

You know,

I think it coincided with the fact

that I was doing the book, you know...

-Second only to the Bible.

-[both chuckle]

You know...

And The Stones had one of their...

where they suddenly go into hibernation

for about five years.

'Cause we... The Stones had been

working a lot until about 2007.

And I was kind of itching

to get back in the studio.

I love recording, you see.

Any studio,

I feel totally at home there.

Everywhere else, you know, is, you know...

there's the bags.

[Steve Jordan] Should we get

another mic in there?

-Or should we just move the ribbon closer?

-[Richards] No, listen...

Play a couple things.

[guitar playing]

That's better, right?

[Richards] And the next thing I know,

Steve Jordan came to me, and he said,

"How about just the two of us

go in the studio,

you know, just you and me,

and we'll cut a couple of tracks?

Just, you know, see what happens."

[Jordan] He said something

and it was kind of shocking.

And I asked him

never to say that again.

He said, "Well, you know,

I've done all of this...

and now the book and everything."

He hadn't been playing.

And he was like, "You know, maybe

I should, like, retire," kinda thing.


-At which I completely freaked out.

[laughing] I said,

"What are you talking about?"

I was talking in my sleep.

I said,

"What are you talking about?"

[man 1] Can you get it? Yeah.

[man 2] Yep.

[man 1] Yeah, it's a little boomy.

[man 2] Uh-huh.

[Tom Waits] Musically, what I noticed

about Keith, is he's really big on detail.

And you have to be if you're...

an archeologist and you're,

you know...

You insist on locality data, you know.

Not only where something came from,

but what are the principles

and the properties of it.

And he...

He's like a... like a London cabbie

who has The Knowledge.

-[man] Yeah, yeah.

-Only he has that in music, you know.

[Richards] I realized,

as I was doing this stuff,

how much steeped I am

in American folk music,

in jazz and blues.

That's the stuff that America

has given the rest of the world.

You know, far bigger than H-bombs.


I love my sugar

But I love my honey, too

I'm a greedy motherf***er

And I don't know what to do

I've got a crosseyed heart

[Richards] Crosseyed Heart, I'm doing

a lot of the tipping of the hat to people.

And this was to Robert Johnson.

Ooh, she's so sweet

And she drives me

round the bend

I go in the corner, baby

And find another friend

I got a crosseyed heart

[Richards] I grew up listening

basically to American music,

even though I was in England.

And through that,

I guess I realized that an awful lot

of American music, blues included,

relied a lot upon old Celtic melodies,

Irish, Scottish, English, Welsh,

that became part of this country,

you know.

So to me, it was translatable easily.

When I first heard

Robert Johnson and Lead Belly,

and I'm hearing an echo...

You know, I'm hearing...

In my bones, I'm hearing

an echo that I shouldn't be hearing

because it's not within earshot.

Which is one of the reasons

I wanted to start this thing off

with the blues, you know.

I mean, I ain't a pop star no more,

you know.

I don't wanna be.


See, I swore... You know,

I thought it was in E, for Christ's sake.

I mean, I swore...

I would have gone to the grave saying

that I played this in E, man, until today.

[radio tuning]

[Richards] My mum was a beautiful

music freak with incredible taste.

We only had, like, two radio stations

in the whole country, you know.

And she was a wizard of the dial.

If there was anything worth listening to,

she would find it.

[jazz playing on radio]

Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald

were her two top thrushes.


I liked Billie Holiday.

Billie had more edge on it for me.

But still, that's what I grew up with.

You know what I mean?

Louis Armstrong...

Billy Eckstine...

and a little dash of Mozart

here and there.

And then all the usual rubbish.

Whatever they played on radio.

You know, the stuff

you couldn't avoid, you know.

I'm a pink toothbrush

You're a blue toothbrush

[man singing]

You're a pink toothbrush

And I think, toothbrush,

that we met by the bathroom door

[Richards] All of that crap, you know?

I mean, the '50s,

which is, all right,

great rubbish, in retrospect.

Growing up in England,

just after the war,

there was rubble everywhere.

I was not aware that there was any

other world apart from bombed out ruins.

["Baby Let's Play House" playing]

And then, suddenly, Elvis.

He hit like a bombshell.

"Baby Let's Play House" was around then,

and it really cooked me.

The world went from black-and-white

to Technicolor.

Well, you may go to college

You may go to school

You may have a pink Cadillac

But don't you be nobody's fool

Now baby, come back, baby, come

Come back, baby,

I wanna play house with you

[Richards] America looked very attractive.


All the movies.

We got what you guys saw,

like, a year before.

Especially if you're into music.

That was basically our lifeline

in those days,

that sense of,

there's something happening,

and you just wanna

be part of it, you know,

and you jumped in with both feet.

At least, I did.

Come back, baby,

I wanna play house with you

[playing gentle melody]

[Richards] Jim Hall.

[Jordan] We love Jim Hall.

-Jim, motherf***er.


[Richards] My grandfather, Gus,

he kinda teased me, man,

over years, into becoming a guitarist.

He was one of those guys

that always thought

everybody was a musician

if they got the chance to be and...

So I think he just left

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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