Pop Culture

Keith Richards turns 70! Celebrate with rocker's famed wisdom 

Peter Foley / Today
Keith Richards in New York in 2008.

Rock 'n' roll icons should look and sound a certain way. While Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards — who turns 70 on Dec. 18 — may not have taken the healthiest path to his milestone birthday, we wouldn't change a thing about what we've seen or heard out of him along the way.

From his crazy head of hair to his cracked face to the cigarette forever dangling from his lips, Richards receives his world view through eyes trimmed with black eyeliner. His music and tales of excess have inspired a legion of wannabe rock stars and his style and swagger is even evident in a modern movie pirate of the Caribbean.

Some will say, in celebration of Richards' 70th, that we should just be happy that he made it this far. We'd rather do that in 20 years or so if it means we get more music and pearls of wisdom between now and then. Let's let his own words do the talking until then (culled from this site/book, Richards' 2010 autobiography "Life," and this Esquire article.) Happy birthday, Keith!

On being alive:
"Hey, it's good to be here. It's good to be anywhere."

"It's a privilege just to wake up to a new day."

Members of the Rolling Stones in London on July 22, 1965, from left, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Bill Wyman.

On aging:
"We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain."

J. Wilds / Today
The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, London, from left, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman.

On fame:
"I fell into it. I'm still falling."

On longevity:
"I was number 1 on the who's likely to die list for 10 years ... I was really disappointed when I fell off that list."

Michael Cooper / Today
Keith Richards in the California desert in 1969 from an exhibition "Stones 50" at the Borges Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

On drugs:
"I've never had a problem with drugs, only with policemen."

"I've never turned blue in someone else's bathroom. I consider that the height of bad manners."

Jan Persson / Today
An undated image of Keith Richards onstage during a soundcheck in Denmark.

On patriotism:
"I don't wave a flag for anything. I'm a musician."

On authority:
"If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet."

Julie Jacobson / Today
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones before a news conference at which they announced a new concert tour on May 10, 2005, in New York.

On women:
"Women are a beautiful complication, and I look forward to far more beauties and far more complications."

On romance:
"Love has sold more songs than you've had hot dinners." 

Chris Pizzello / Today
Keith Richards and his wife, Patti Hansen, arrive at the Scream Awards in Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2009.

On songwriting:
"What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack."

On making music:
"You can't believe how great this job is. I'll do it as long as people want to listen to it."

Facundo Arrizabalaga / Today
Keith Richards performs during England's Glastonbury Festival on June 29, 2013.