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Wild Behind-the-Scenes Moments with The Rolling Stones
Celebrity royalty in their time, the famous — and infamous — rock band known as The Rolling Stones remains a global sensation to this day. Their 2015 Zip Code Tour was the number one-ranked tour of the year, with Mick Jagger belting into the mic at the age of 72.
Many fans probably consider it a miracle the group (mostly) has lived to see old age, considering the unbelievable and often dangerous antics they got into in their youth. Ready to find out the juiciest behind-the-scenes details you don’t already know about the band? Take a look!
Dropping Acid with John Lennon
The Rolling Stones guitarist and secondary vocalist Keith Richards has a long history of drug use, and he has plenty of scary stories to tell. One tale, however, stands out among the others — the tumultuous acid trip he took with Beatles member John Lennon.
According to Richards, the two spent the “trip” driving around the English countryside and partying for several days. The experience was so crazy that they didn’t remember much of it at all. Years later, Lennon asked Richards, “What happened on that trip?” Sadly, Richards had no answer for him.
A Wild Baby Shower
Ronnie Wood, a late arrival to the band, fit in perfectly with their let-loose lifestyle. He was normally up for the parties, but on one occasion he made an unusual request. He asked Keith Richards to refrain from doing cocaine in front of his wife’s mother at their baby shower.
Seems like a simple enough request, right? Well, according to Rolling Stone magazine , it was too big an ask for the rock star. After dinner, he apparently slammed a bag of coke on the table and said, “Now, for dessert!”
Days Without Sleeping
Another crazy thing Keith Richards could do was go several days without sleeping. He told Life that the song “Before They Make Me Run” was recorded during five straight days of work in the studio without sleep. But five days wasn’t even his record.
Richards claims to have gone a startling nine days without snoozing once. He said that eventually his body couldn’t take it. As he returned a cassette to a shelf, he “turned ’round and fell asleep,” falling into the speaker. He woke to his own blood pooling around him.
A Brush with Death
There was a time in Ronnie Wood’s career with the band that he experimented with smoking cocaine. This activity would put Wood into a stupor, and drummer Charlie Watts was enlisted to look after him. Unfortunately, Watts either wasn’t there or was also intoxicated when a fire started in the house.
The high and disoriented Wood wasn’t able to understand what was happening, and in the end, it was the band’s chauffeur who saved the day. He burst in and roused Wood, helping him escape the house unscathed.
Snow White’s Dwarves on the Doorstep
One fateful night in Richards’ freshly purchased mansion, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful were hanging out. What exactly the group was doing that night has been extensively debated, but one thing is certain: Keith Richards was on acid. When police arrived at the door, responding to a complaint about partying, Richards thought they were a group of dwarves on his doorstep.
After the incident, rumors were rampant that some taboo sex acts took place involving a Mars Bar, but the band members deny this. In fact, Richards says the police walked into a “scene of pure domesticity.”
Partying with the Prime Minister’s Wife
The members of The Rolling Stones have confirmed that Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was known to spend some time partying and getting down with the band. She even met with them while Richards was out on bail for drug possession.
The guitarist had gotten caught with an ounce of heroin in his hotel room and almost met his match with the Canadian authorities. After a great deal of negotiating, his punishment was a stint of community service. Specifically, he had to perform for the blind community.
A Young Start for Keith
Keith Richards’ rule-breaking antics weren’t something he developed while working with the band. He had been causing trouble since he was a mere teenage boy scout. During those years, he snuck whiskey into a jamboree and got caught, ending his career as a boy scout.
Of course, that wasn’t the only reason they kicked Keith out. He had been engaging in fistfights with some of the other boys. Not surprisingly, Richards wasn’t a kid you wanted to fight. The conflicts came to a head when Richards broke his hand accidentally punching a tent pole.
It seems there’s no end to the crazy stories involving Keith Richards, and this one was particularly tantalizing for the press. He told this shocking story himself to an eager media outlet, explaining that he had snorted some of his dad’s ashes with a line of cocaine.
His father had passed four years ago before that, and for some reason, Richards had removed the lid of his ashes after partaking in some drugs. To put it simply, some of the ashes blew onto the table, and Richards swept them up and sniffed them.
Near-Death Experience on Stage
Keith Richards, now 76 years old, experienced a terrifying brush with death while on stage at a 1965 concert. He was jamming away on his guitar when he accidentally touched it to the microphone stand. The electrical surge literally sent him flying.
The only thing fans and bandmates saw was an explosion of flame and a toppled Richards. Some actually thought he had been shot. The shock could have been lethal, had it not been for the pair of thick Hush Puppies on his feet that stopped the current.
Doing Lines Between Songs
The Rolling Stones didn’t just party before and after a show — they partied during the show as well. Are you really surprised by that bit of news? During their highly successful 1975 tour, the band ducked behind the speakers to snort lines of cocaine. Well, at least Richards and Wood were guilty of it.
They also had heroin hidden in amplifiers and heroin-laced cigarettes that they smoked on stage. This steady flow of drugs made them lively and put them in the zone for the show, but it wreaked all kinds of havoc on their health.
Sleeping at the Wheel
Hard partiers like Keith Richards aren’t without some tragic tales of personal failure. Richards spoke about one such event when he fell asleep at the wheel of his Bentley and crashed into a tree. The car survived, but not without a bloody handprint and a dent in the windshield from where Richards’ nose collided with it.
The worst part, however, was that Richards’ son Marlon was in the back seat at the time. He was only 7 years old and thankfully survived, but police arrested Richards after the crash for obvious reasons.
A Stint in the Suburbs
What crazier thing can a rock star do than play house for a week? That’s exactly what Richards did while on tour in Australia in 1973. After meeting a single mom with contacts in the pharmaceutical cocaine industry, he briefly took up residence in her suburban home.
According to Richards, he settled into domestic life quite nicely, enjoying the simple pleasures of a homely life. He even watched the woman’s baby and changed dirty diapers. It’s hard to imagine hard rocker Keith doing that, even if it was only for one week!
Chaos in the Playboy Mansion
Playboy king Hugh Hefner has certainly earned himself a reputation for throwing parties, but The Rolling Stones may have one-upped him at a shindig in 1972. Hefner invited the crew to the Chicago mansion for a night of partying, not knowing it would end in expensive damage.
Bobby Keys and Keith Richards were doing what they always did at parties — taking drugs in the bathroom — when they thought they smelled smoke around them. You guessed it, they had unknowingly set fire to the Playboy mansion, and workers had to frantically put it out.
During the 1972 American tour, the after-show parties thrown by the band were the stuff of legends. They would have an entire floor of a hotel to themselves, and throngs of groupies danced naked in their suites. They even brought along their own doctor who supplied pills in exchange for his own groupies.
For The Rolling Stones, this level of debauchery was a nightly occurrence. If there wasn’t sex, drugs and alcohol, then it wasn’t a party. The details of everything that went down in those hotel rooms may never be known.
A Head Injury in Fiji
In their heyday, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood were a devilish pair that often found themselves in bad situations — this fact never changed. On a 2006 vacation near Fiji, the two enjoyed a swim at the beach. All those years later, Richards still wasn’t ever satisfied unless he did something risky.
He started to jump off a tree 7 feet above the water, but he slipped and hit his head on the trunk as he went down. For a few days, he seemed fine, but then he experienced seizures and had to undergo emergency brain surgery.
Playing Popeye in Concert
When The Rolling Stones were just beginning in the early 1960s, their main fan base was teenage girls. While they were happy with the success, some members (like Charlie Watts) felt their musical talents weren’t receiving adequate appreciation and praise from the public at large.
During their concerts, people in the audience would scream so loudly that no one could hear the music the band was playing. When this happened, former member Brian Jones would start playing Popeye the Sailor Man on stage, and no one but the musicians would even notice.
Punched by Chuck Berry
The band had always looked up to musician Chuck Berry and had even started their career singing his songs. Eventually, they had the honor of sharing a stage with the man himself, but Keith Richards managed to get on his bad side.
As Richards tells it, he saw Berry’s guitar laying in its case unattended, and he simply couldn’t resist the urge to pick it up and pluck a string. At that moment, Berry charged in and yelled, “Nobody touches my guitar!” — before punching Richards in the face.
A Shepherd’s Pie Fiasco
One on-the-road tradition that developed for The Rolling Stones was Keith Richards’ sacred shepherd’s pie before showtime. Since 1989, his bandmates knew not to eat the shepherd’s pie until Richards had eaten his fill. But how did this strange routine come about?
On one occasion, Richards specifically asked for a shepherd’s pie and arrived to find that everyone else had already eaten it all. In response, he refused to play the concert until he got his share, and the show was delayed. From then on, it became something of a tour tradition.
A Slim Escape
Throughout The Rolling Stones ‘ history, there have been several house fires, one of which forced Keith Richards out a window wearing nothing but a T-shirt. He was with a woman named Lil Wenglass at a home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. They had spent a fun night together, most likely partaking in the usual party activities.
During the night, a fire erupted, and the couple barely escaped. In fact, Wenglass had to run outside without a single piece of clothing. Needless to say, it was a night that Richards remembers quite well.
Roadies Save the Day
While most of The Rolling Stones’ concerts were incredibly well-done performances, some of them were memorable for all the wrong reasons. As it turns out, doing drugs while on stage can sometimes have a negative effect — who knew, right? — and that’s what happened in Hertfordshire in 1976.
Richards had taken too many narcotics and was in no condition to perform. Seeing him struggle, his roadies swept in to save the day — by cutting the wires on the speaker system. This delayed the concert a good 90 minutes, long enough for Richards to “have a kip” backstage.
On yet another hit tour in 1981, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood miscalculated the time they were set to play a concert. They went out beforehand to drink and party and made their way to the venue at about 9:00 p.m. Richards strode up to the stage, ready to play some chords.
When he got up there, however, he realized the other players weren’t his bandmates. It was still the supporting act, warming up the crowd for The Rolling Stones. Richards ran off stage and left the crowd scratching their heads.
With such a successful career, it’s obvious The Rolling Stones made some serious money. After all, their tours were consistently sold out and brought in record profits for everyone involved. The band thoroughly enjoyed their fortunes, and they were reluctant to give part of it up when tax season rolled around.
Instead, it eventually came out that they moved millions of dollars through foreign countries to avoid paying high taxes — only $5.5 million of a whopping $347 million went to the government. They didn’t want to give up a single cent more than the bare minimum.
An Affair with Donald Trump’s Girlfriend
One of the strangest stories to come out about Rolling Stones member Mick Jagger is his unlikely connection to President Donald Trump. It turns out they shared the same girlfriend — at the same time! Even more shocking, Carla Bruni later became the first lady of France.
When Jagger and Bruni met in the 90s, she was dating musician Eric Clapton. Even after she moved on from Clapton and began seeing Donald Trump, she couldn’t quit her Jagger habit. Future President Trump even told the media that Bruni was “desperately stuck on Jagger” while she was with him.
The Infamous Frenemies
Perhaps one of the wildest stories about The Rolling Stones is the decades-long love-hate relationship between two of its main members: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Despite their ability to crank out hit songs, they never managed to put up with each other for long in the end.
Richards’ love of pushing the envelope and Jagger’s need to exert control over the band’s business led the two down a road filled with heated fights and grudges. To this day, the pair doesn’t spend more time with each other than is absolutely necessary.
A Touring Fleet
The sheer number of people that accompanied The Rolling Stones on their iconic tours is impressive to contemplate. Each band member had their own demands during travel, including their own entourage, workout team, doctors, and often their own entire floor of a hotel.
These four musicians typically took around 230 individuals with them on their tours. It was like they were their own small army traveling across the globe, following their own rules and receiving almost anything their hearts desired. Their fame and fortune spurred a lifestyle of excess that most people could never imagine.
The Free Stones Concert
Even though they might dodge their taxes, accidentally set fires, and delay their shows, The Rolling Stones do like to give back when they can. In 2006, the group decided to play a concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and not charge fans a single penny.
As you can imagine, the crowd that turned up was an immense one. A total of 1.5 million people congregated on Copacabana Beach to listen to the Stones ‘ sweet tunes for two hours. The best part? Mick Jagger spoke to the crowd in Portuguese.
Bailed Out by the Mayor
On many occasions, the Stones found themselves seeking favors from powerful people — often to get bailed out of jail and avoid criminal charges. In 1972, Richards and Jagger found themselves in a jail cell after throwing punches at an airport in Rhode Island while on their way to a Boston concert.
In a dramatic twist, Boston mayor Kevin White personally provided bail for the two singers so they could make their show. White stood on stage while the crowd awaited the singers, assuring them that the Stones would be there as soon as possible. Now, that was some good campaigning!
A Secret Wedding
The Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, attempted to do something secretive back in 1964. He had met and fallen in love with a woman named Shirley Ann Shepherd, and he wanted to marry her. His bandmates didn’t care if he got married, but they thought it might negatively impact their fans — after all, everyone loves a bachelor rock star.
They agreed to keep the affair a secret for the sake of the band. Of course, anything related to the Stones couldn’t remain a secret for long, and word eventually got out. The couple did eventually marry and have a daughter.
A Fake Driver’s Test
Keith Richards has claimed in interviews that he is a good driver — despite his record of crashes. His bandmates might beg to differ, however, considering that Richards never managed to pass his driver’s test. In fact, he failed three times, and it was starting to look like he would never pass.
Instead, Richards had his bodyguard take the test for him. Yes, it was illegal, but when did that ever stop the rock star? His bodyguard passed with flying colors, and Richards was awarded his driver’s license — for better or for worse.
The wildest story of them all is the one that happens after everything is said and done — Keith Richards actually managed to eventually settle down. He married Patti Hansen and had two beautiful daughters, and he now enjoys a relaxed life in Weston, Connecticut.
Mick Jagger also moved on from his partying ways and now likes to spend a day off reading, sleeping and maybe watching a game of cricket. It just goes to show you that even the craziest rock stars can end up normal grandfathers and be happy about it.
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Jones led the band until Jagger and Richards assumed leadership after teaming as songwriters. In 1969, Jones left the band three weeks before drowning in his swimming pool. Mick Taylor, who replaced Jones, stayed with the band until leaving voluntarily in 1974, with Ronnie Wood taking his place. Bill Wyman retired from the band in 1993 and his replacement Darryl Jones has not been made a full member. Stewart was taken from the official line-up in 1963 and continued as the band's road manager and occasional pianist until his death in 1985. Since 1982, Chuck Leavell has been the band's primary keyboardist. Watts died on August 24, 2021.
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