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Keith Richards

Even as a child, Richards knew he wanted to play rock and roll. He would pose in front of the mirror and practice "getting down his moves," as he called them. These moves most likely didn't help him much as a choirboy (he once sang for the Queen), but his angelic voice helped mask the miscreant lurking just beneath the surface. When he was 15, his mother bought him his first guitar, and from that moment, it became the most important thing in his life. A rekindled friendship with Mick Jagger (they were sandbox mates) and a mutual love of American blues led to the formation, in 1962, of a band called the Rolling Stones. Their guitarist, Brian Jones, came up with the name, which he borrowed from the Muddy Waters classic "Rollin' Stone Blues." The group began playing gigs around London, doing mostly covers of songs by their heroes — Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Willie Dixon to name a few.

Richards' edgy guitar style set the band apart, and once he and Jagger discovered that they could actually write songs, there was no stopping them. One of their earliest collaborations was the classic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," which Richards wrote during a bout of insomnia while on tour; Newsweek called the song's chord progression "five notes that shook the world." The song made a name for the band in America, and was the first of a long string of hits. The band stood in stark contrast to the shiny, happy Beatles — even white sailor suits could not make them look less menacing — and soon their off-stage antics garnered as much press as their music. Jagger and Richards were the bad boys of rock and roll, and were soon dubbed the "Glimmer Twins." Keith was at the forefront of a gathering cloud of controversy, which began with a 1967 arrest on trumped-up drug charges. Over the next decade, he was arrested ten times, with the most serious charge leveled in March of 1977, when he was arrested in Toronto, Canada, for heroin possession. He narrowly escaped jail, partly due to the pleas of a young blind woman, who told the court how Richards had made sure she was returned home safely after a Stones concert. He worked out a plea bargain that included a benefit show for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and he was allowed to enter the United States for drug treatment.

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