I met up with Keef in the bar at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho. At six in the evening he’d already quaffed a few tumblers of his preferred beverage: vodka and cranberry juice. He greeted me with the words, “Nice leather trousers, man. What you drinking?” I told him I’d have some of what he was having. “Keep these coming,” he instructed the waiter, “and make them trebles, will ya?”
Most blokes don’t mind admitting that they joined bands to increase their chances of copping off with the ladies. What about yourself?
I was always thinking about chicks, but they were never the motivating reason for playing rock and roll. In the early days of The Stones, they were never around. Then it just changed overnight. Fucking amazing! The week before, I couldn't get laid to save my life. Then it turned 180 degrees and I'm having to fend them off. I wake up and find that I'm a sex symbol, man. But we didn't set out with that goal. It was more like a happy accident. A nice little bonus, at least for a while. Then you realize that it's getting insane and you have to learn to deal with it. These chicks wouldn't have given me a second glance before. Now they're throwing their knickers on stage with their telephone numbers on. All these knickers coming at me. And I kept them all. I mean, it might seem like every guy's fantasy, but it reaches a point where you have to ask yourself: "are these the kind of chicks I want to hang with?"
Legend has it that you were a late starter in the sex department?
Well, yeah. That might be true. But I actually find it very hard to remember the actual first time. There were a couple of nice girls at art school who showed me the way, but I'm not sure how far it went. I mean, I never got into a serious relationship until I was 20. Then, before I knew it, I was on the road with the Stones and there's chicks all over the place wanting to get in my pants. Well, I'm no bloody angel, know what I mean? So before I know it I'm in bed with Ronnie Spector. That's when I found rock’n’roll. That's also when I learned about jealousy, ‘cos I had Phil Spector chasing me around with a shotgun. That's when I started ducking and diving. It was a question of survival.
What was your attitude to sex in the early days of the Stones?
Well, it's always been the same really. It boils down to the fact that I've never just been interested in just a lay. If I'm going to be with a woman, even if just for a day or two, then we've got to have a laugh. And then, if we get around to screwing, that's wonderful. But I've never started a relationship just for the purpose of wham-bam-thank-you- mam. Chicks are too precious for that. I mean, I love chicks. I love them too much to just roll over and stick it in.
You were never interested in notches on the bed post?
Not at all. I could never understand the whole attitude with Bill (Wyman). You have to understand that he'd do it with anything and anybody. The worst bags you could imagine. Anything. I was only interested in real women. Not someone you dragged in, gave her a quick one, kicked her out and chalked it up. If I'm going to get into bed with someone, I gotta like 'em. Otherwise, I'd rather go into a quiet corner and jerk myself off. My attitude has always been that ladies are ladies and chicks are chicks. They're not things to be chalked up on a score cards.
How would you describe your attitude to groupies over the years?
Well, all I can say about the groupies of the 60s and 70s was that there were some great girls. They weren't just interested in wham-bam either. These chicks would look after you. You'd say, "I don't feel so good today" and they'd come over and feed you. It wasn't just fuck, fuck, fuck...well, sometimes it was. But other times you needed to cool out and they were there for you. But the whole groupie thing was different then. Even if you spent the night with the most prolific girl, the most you'd get was a nasty dose of Vietnamese Rose which could be sorted out with a couple of barrels of antibiotics. Now, with AIDS, it's a life and death thing. The stakes are much higher.
What kind of women always attracted you?
I never really had an ideal woman as such. I simply love the ones who love me. I've never been the sort of guy who only likes blondes or whatever. I like them all. I mean, chicks are endlessly fascinating to me. They're always an education. I can have a load more fun with chicks than with a bunch of guys. When men are left to their own devices, they're always jousting, trying to put one over on each other in a boring, macho way. But women have a different point of view on things and they're not afraid to point out that I've been behaving like an asshole. And I kinda like that.
Would you describe yourself as a natural flirt?
Well, let's put it this way, when it comes to chicks, I like to see a gleam in their eye. But it doesn't always have to be a sexual thing. I can enjoy flirting just as much with Ronnie Wood’s mum or someone's auntie. It doesn't always have to be some six foot Playboy model. I know plenty of them and they're lovely girls too. But it's as much fun to sit down and have a laugh with Charlie Watts’ mum and say "Come here and give us a kiss, darling". See, I've discovered over the years that the feminine heart is very warm. And guys have to learn to understand it. But a lot of guys, they're so hung up on the idea of being male that they don't stop to realise that you have to work at it to know what it's all about. Even then, you don't really understand them. One of the things I like to do, if I have the time, is listen to chicks talk. What are they really on about? What are they saying about us? A lot of good songs come out of that.
There's the title track from the Some Girls album which concludes that "Black girls just want to fuck all night"...
Well they do. At least in my experience. That's not all they want to do. But if you can go all night, then they will do. I mean, Mick wrote that line. And he was probably moaning because he couldn't keep up with some chick he was seeing. So, in a way, it's a reverse joke. But, y'know, some guys don't want to go all night. They're happy with something a little quicker. As for myself, I'll keep going until I run out of steam.See, you have to understand that The Stones have always been a horny bunch of bastards, and, once in a while, we'll write something or do something that gets up people's noses. Like we got into trouble over the posters for the Black And Blue album - with all these chicks tied up. Well, I know a lot of chicks who like to be tied up. As long as it's on a consensual basis, there's nothing much wrong with that. As far as I'm concerned, a man and a woman can do anything they like together, as long as they both agree it’s OK.
Have you ever used a song as a form of emotional revenge?
Oh yeah! There's a song on the Emotional Rescue album called All About You. That's a particularly nasty song. It's like a litany of insults. And it was written so I could get a few things off my chest. The funny thing is that everyone assumes that it was written about Anita (Pallenberg).In fact, it's about Mick. I'd just come off junk and went back to work with the Stones. In my absence Mick had been running the show. I was ready to pick up where we left off. But in the meantime, Mick had got used to being in charge...so, when I returned to the fold, I was made to feel like an intruder. I got the impression that certain people wished I was back on junk. Well, thank you very much , and fuck you Jack!
So, you see, I had a lot of poison in my system and I had to get it all out. But it's not all about Mick. That song is about a few other things as well. And Anita is one of them. I was breaking up with her around that time. I'd said, “Look, if we clean up together, we'll stay together.” Well, I cleaned myself up. But she didn't. And I realised that I couldn't sleep with someone who had a needle beside the bed. I was too fragile at that point. I loved her, but I had to leave.
Any perversions to declare?
Hey! Perversions are perversions. Don't knock 'em! And one man's perversions are another man's hobby, y'know? Whatever you can imagine, there's someone there trying it. It all comes down to what turns you on. Look at the Marquis de Sade. It comes down to the fact that some one's got a problem. Loads of people have problems and they get into some weird shit. You name it. Donkeys, sheep...it's not for me. But, if I was a shepherd stuck up on the hills for a few months, a sweet little lamb now and then might seem like an attractive proposition. Let's face it. I'd like to think I could resist. It would have to be a pretty cold winter for me to go for it. Then again, who knows?
But you draw the line at donkeys?
Well, not if the chick doesn't! Mind you, those donkeys don't half pong. That's a major drawback. I met this chick in Cairo, she had a special way with donkeys. She had no problem with it. Her conscience was clear. The donkey didn't seem to mind. He didn't need much encouragement, if you know what I mean!
Any interesting fetishes that you'd like to share with our readers?
Oh, I do like the odd fetish. Lingerie is particularly nice to look at. It's even nicer to take off. I can't say the same for my own lingerie. But a chick's stuff - that's made to be taken off. It's part of the courting dance. A wonderful dance it is too. There's nothing more beautiful than a great-looking chick removing her clothes. In fact, the only thing better is a great looking chick removing mine.
How important is sex?
A lot of guys take sex for granted. Arsenal 1 Newcastle Utd 4. So fucking what, y' know? But it's never been like that for me. It's important. 'Course it's important. But it's always been the other things about women that have meant a lot to me. They take care of you afterwards. You screw them all night and they bring you breakfast in the morning. A nice bit of toast and a boiled egg. Lovely. It's the bits before and after that I find particularly touching. The sex itself - it's not everything. I mean, my dogs do it all the time. If that's all there is to it, you might as well run into the street and find a lamp-post with a hole in it.
How drastically did heroin affect you're sex life?
Well, it complicated things. That's for sure. Heroin made my life difficult in a lot of ways. It's an incredible high. But when you reach that high, the question is: what are you going to do with it? Because what you have to do is get more out of it. And you end up thinking like a criminal, even though you ain't. As far as I'm concerned, it was an experiment that went on too long.
If you're asking me about screwing on heroin...well, it's very hard to remember when you're on the stuff. Put it this way: it's not what you'd call an aphrodisiac. With heroin, everything else goes on the back-burner, and that includes sex. You have to remember that being a junkie is a boring way of life. You don't wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and start singing 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning'.
You once remarked that the most important things in life were rock‘n'roll and screwing. Do you still stand by that?
There's other things that are important. Like air, water and food. but rock‘n'roll and screwing are easily the most enjoyable.
In which order of preference?
Christ! That's a difficult one. Preferably both at once. I've had some great ideas for songs when I've been screwing.
But, like I say, it's not just the screwing. I mean. that's a big part of it. But it's more to do with the differences between men and women. I've always found that area fascinating. It comes from growing up with loads of women around me. Six aunts and the rest of it. I came to accept the differences between men and women. After all, it's the differences that make it interesting. That for me is the great fascination about life: the mystery that lies between man and woman. when you put it on a DNA card, there's only a tiny difference. One little gene, that's all it is. But it's that one little gene that makes it all work. All those differences...I've never been afraid to celebrate those in certain songs - often with a certain sense of humour.
How would you summarise your feelings for women over the years?
Well, if I look back, I'm kinda happy about the fact that I never needed to be pushy when it came to chicks. I was in the kind of position where I could walk into a room and basically have my pick. It's a hell of a lot easier to get laid if you're famous. But that always seemed like a cheap shot to me. Far too easy. No appeal. I just never had the attitude that a lot of guys have. I mean, a lot of guys will just fuck anything, y'know? Just because it's there. And these same guys...they never seem to learn anything about women. Y'know, they'd be hard pushed to tell you where the clitoris is. Now if a guy doesn't know where that is situated, then he's got a big problem ‘cos he ain't gonna satisfy any woman. All I know is that I can't help guys like that. I'm not a doctor or a gynaecologist. All I know is that the chicks come back to me and say “He was an asshole. He didn't have a clue” and I lend them my shoulder to cry on. Now that's all I'm prepared to do. I'm not going to spend my time drawing maps for guys who haven't learned to find their way around. All I can say is that I haven't had any complaints. I never left a woman feeling pissed off. I never had any woman chase me and tell me I'd let her down. There's an art to that and it's an art that has to be learned.
And finally Esther (or Dr. Ruth), a few words on a subject particularly dear to our hearts. We're talking about bashing the bishop, spanking the monkey, striking the old pink match...
Wanking, you mean? Nothing wrong with wanking, is there? I mean, if a guy can't get hold of a chick, what's he supposed to do? I'll tell you something for nothing...there's plenty of wankers in The Rolling Stones.
So we can safely conclude that Keith Richards likes a quick one off the wrist as much as the next man?
Are you kidding, man? I'm a fucking expert when it comes to wanking. Bloody hell. Quick ones. Slow ones. In-between ones. I've cut down a bit recently, but I've done more than my fair share of wanking over the years. If you're on the road and there ain't nothing left in the bar, then you're going to seek refuge in Mother Fist and her Five Daughters. Back to the room for a good wank. It's a lot less trouble and, hey, there's more room in the bed.
Even allowing for the donkey?
The donkey, the guide dog, the old march hare. I'm not fussy...Jesus! I can't wait for this article to come out. Send me one, will you?