You’d think that when you’ve been pickled for as long as Keith Richards has, you’d want to be careful about making any changes to your routine. There’s a delicate ecosystem at work there, any alteration might cause a cataclysmic break down causing Keith’s cells causing them to spontaneously liquefy. But according to Rolling Stone, he’s very recently given up drinking. Well, almost.
Keith says he stopped hitting the hard stuff about a year ago because he noticed he wasn’t “feeling right”, which is Keith’s body’s way of reminding him of those times he died in ‘69, ‘72 and ‘83.
“It’s been about a year now. I pulled the plug on it. I got fed up with it.” While he admits he still has “a glass of wine occasionally, and a beer,” it’s a major step for a guy whose hedonism is a key part of his legend. “It was time to quit,” Richards says. “Just like all the other stuff.” Was it an adjustment? “You can call it that, yeah,” he says with a laugh. “But I don’t notice any difference really – except for I don’t drink. I wasn’t feeling [right]. I’ve done it. I didn’t want that anymore.”
According to his bandmate Ronnie Wood, Keith may start the day as gregarious chandelier swinger, but sooner or later (and lately more like sooner or sooner) he’d turn into a mean, no-fun, “nasty drunk”. So while Keith may not have noticed any difference, it sounds like everybody else was relieved when Keith decided that hydrating exclusively with vodka wasn’t doing his complexion, or his attitude, any favors.
“He’s a pleasure to work with,” Wood says. “Much more mellow. He’s open to more ideas, whereas before I’d kind of grit my teeth and go, ‘He’s gonna give me some shit for saying this.’ Now, he’ll say, ‘That’s cool, man.’ ”
Of the 2018 shows The Stones have played, Keith said he’s noticed a difference in how he plays, saying “it was interesting to play sober”, suggesting that he hasn’t played a show sober since 1962! I’m not sure giving up the booze this late in the game is going to do anything for his health (you can’t unpickle a pickle after all), but maybe drying out will shake some cobwebs loose and he’ll remember some new material to add to his slam book!