That Was Then
Some time in late 1964, 20 year old Keith Richard of the Rolling Stones adjusts his Vox AC30 amp. He's probably about to play Willy Dixon's 'Little Red Rooster', which the group had just recorded for a single at London's Regent Sound studio.
By this stage in the Stones rapid rise to popularity, Keith's Epiphone semi had become his trusted, favourite guitar - aided, on 'Rooster', by a touch of bottleneck. At the time he occasionally played an older Harmony Meteor, and a Harmony 12-string, used mostly for songwriting with flatmate M Jagger. It was his grand-dad, at one time a danceband player, who'd encouraged Keith to play guitar back in his hometown of Dartford, Kent, and had given him his first guitar, a Rosetti Spanish-style acoustic. But what else had inspired him? "I used to love Roy Rogers," recalled Keith in '64, "and always imagined myself as a singing cowboy." Didn't quite work out that way, did it? "Sometimes I look back and I think I must have spent more time listening to other guitarists than sleeping. You listen, you learn," he added, sensibly.
And how was he coping with his on-stage duties, wondered the 1964 interviewer? "I used to be so scared - I just wanted to play, not put on any showmanship. I guess I'm more confident now. I realise people like to watch something as well as listening. "All the main work is done when we rehearse a number for the first time, and the hardest thing of all, as Bill Wyman says, is knowing when to play and when to keep quiet. Once we've worked out an arrangement it's just a matter of going on stage and enjoying ourselves." Good advice, even in '87.
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