There’s one person who knew Keith Richards would become Keith Richards: his grandfather.
The Rolling Stone member said Augustus Theodore Dupree introduced him to the guitar and taught him about music as a child growing up in England.
“I think in a way he sort of had plans for me I wasn’t aware of,” Richards said. “He turned me on to the guitar and he did it in a subtle way.”
The rock icon details his relationship with his grandfather in Gus & Me, his children’s book out Tuesday.
“He was a saxophone player. He got gassed in the First World War and he couldn’t blow anymore, so he went to fiddle. He was playing way into his 60s – so am I,” 70-year-old Richards said, laughing.
Richards has four children and five grandchildren. His daughter Theodora Dupree Richards — named after Gus — worked on the illustration for the book.
In a recent interview at Germano Studios — where he recorded his upcoming solo album — Richards talked about writing books, new music, touring with the Stones in 2015 and social media.
AP: Why did you decide to write this book?
Richards: My publishers first came up with this idea. They said, “There’s certain chapters about your grandfather that could make a great children’s book.” Children’s book? This is not my line (laughs). … And just about that same time my eldest daughter … she said, “Guess what?” And I know that look in a woman’s eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re pregnant, which means fifth grandchild.” … I thought, “Hey, there’s something to be said for this” and I’ve always wanted to give my ole grandfather Gus, bless him, a little more memorial than he’s had.
Your 2010 memoir, “Life,” was a commercial and critical success. Was there any pressure to match it with “Gus & Me”?
The initial idea did come from the publishers, so you know, “Maybe Keith can sell a few more books.” That’s their business after all. Nine times out of 10 I would have said forget about it. I’m not going there. But because of the circumstances and having another grandchild, everything was sort of falling into place. I said, “Damn it. Go for it.”
Do you want to write more books?
I don’t know. There’s been plenty of talk about doing volume two (to “Life”) because a lot of stuff got left out. I may save that for a little later. … I had no intention of doing “Life,” but they kept bugging me, “C’mon, you’ve got to tell the story. Here’s a lot of money.” OK, twist my arm. And I found out I could articulate things pretty well (and) tell a good story.
The Stones are heading to Australia in October. Are you excited?
The first thing is the jetlag. I figured it out, I’m going to go via Fiji, where I’m going to chop down the tree that I fell out of the last time I was there (he got a concussion in 2006 after the fall) and spend a few days getting rid of the jetlag, and then I can pop down to Australia. Because the jetlag is the hardest thing around trips like that. Everybody’s waking up and tripping over each other and falling asleep in rehearsals.
Are you going to tour more dates?
They’ve got South America lined up in February, Buenos Aires, Peru. And after that, I know what the Stones tours are like, they tend to get extended.
So could the band potentially tour most of 2015?
It sounds like that.
Are you working on music?
I have a solo record finished, but I don’t want to put it out while the Stones are working, so I’m thinking next June.
What was the process like?
We had no rush. I think we spent a couple of years. (Producer) Steve (Jordan) and I are always working somewhere else, but every month or two we’d come down here and do a couple a day and knock off a couple of tracks. … Nearly every record I’ve made is … `You’ve got another five days,’ but this one we’re taking our time.
How’s recording music today different compared to years ago?
Technology – it’s changed enormously. …I find that some of the technology is very confusing, especially the digital stuff.
Speaking of technology, are you a fan of social media?
I stay well away. I have no computer at all. I have a little tablet that I knock around with. No passwords. I mean, I don’t want to be hacked to death.
Have you heard about the recent leaking of photos of nude celebrities?
The more I hear about it the more I’m sure I’m right.