Keith Richards? Wearing a cardigan and sensible shoes?

April 4, 2010

It’s only books ’n’ shelves but I like it

SHHH! Keith Richards, the grizzled veteran of rock’n’roll excess, has
confessed to a secret longing: to be a librarian. After decades spent
partying in a haze of alcohol and drugs, Richards will tell in his
forthcoming autobiography that he has been quietly nurturing his inner

He has even considered “professional training” to manage thousands of
books at his homes in Sussex and Connecticut, according to publishing
sources familiar with the outline of Richards’s autobiography, which is
due out this autumn. He has received a reported advance of $7.3m (£4.8m)
for it.

The guitarist started to arrange the volumes, including rare
histories of early American rock music and the second world war, by the
librarian’s standard Dewey Decimal classification system but gave up on
that as “too much hassle.” He has opted instead for keeping favoured
volumes close to hand and the rest languishing on dusty shelves.

Richards has also acted as a public library, lending out copies of
the latest Bernard Cornwell or Len Deighton novels to friends without
much hope of getting them back. And, like the Queen at Balmoral, he
leaves favoured books by the bedside for guests staying at Redlands, his
moated Elizabethan farmhouse near West Wittering in West Sussex and in
Weston, Connecticut.

In his autobiography, Life, due to be published in October, Richards
will reveal how, as a child growing up in the post-war-austerity of
1950s London, he found refuge in books before he discovered the blues.

He has declared: “When you are growing up there are two institutional
places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to
God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is
a great equaliser.”

Richards has signed up to the Little, Brown Book Group and will share
writing duties with James Fox, the author of White Mischief, which
charted aristocratic excess in pre-war Kenya.


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