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Keith Richards: the original Naked Chef

November 8, 2010

Went to Morocco to get away from things and flirt with its cultural delights. While flitting between the toothless wizardry on show in the Jemaa El-Fna and the hoighty hubub of the busy souks (I saw Jacque Chirac of all people!) I realised I had completely forgotten that 50’s/60’s Morocco played host to the Beat poets as well as being the preferred getaway for the ze Rolling Stones once they’d got big and the acid started kicking in. Coincidentally I’d brought along a copy of ‘Keef’ Richard’s newly released auto-biography. I was ensconced.

I couldn’t stop laughing. I knew so little about him. A modern outlaw. The Billy the Kid of our times.

It’s strange to think a kid from Dagenham could become such an icon. Such a myth. So perennial a figure in 20th century folklore. He sacked off a potential career at JWT don’t you know – then devoted his life and his liver to rock’n’roll.

Oddly, the chapter in which he reveals his recipe for Bangers and Mash is a stand-out:

Clearly, his point of view on the shift in 60’s Zeitgeist makes for intriguing reading also. From the horse’s mouth stuff. But look! This man once refused to play a show unless a shepherd’s pie that he’d made and seen scoffed by greedy road crew was replaced. It was only minutes before curtain up. It was replaced. He didn’t even eat it! Just wanted to break the crust.

As Keith himself reminds us: “Rock ‘n’ roll’s great weapon is humor.” Add food to the mix and you’ve got  ‘Keef’s English Nosh’. That’s one hell of a show right there.

Ps. The one-off Culture Show special accompanying the book launch (with Andrew Graham-Dixon) is rather lovely too.


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