And looking back over a career that started on July 12, 1962, the guitarist says he has very few regrets about what has been an “incredible adventure.”
Fifty years ago today Richards and singer Mick Jagger hit the stage in London’s Marquee Club accompanied by Elmo Lewis, Dick Taylor, Ian Stewart and Mick Avory.
Lewis stayed on under his real name of Brian Jones, Taylor was replaced by Bill Wyman and formed the Pretty Things, Stewart continued to work with the band until his death in 1985, and Avory – who went on to join the Kinks – was eventually replaced by Charlie Watts.
Richards tells the BBC: “Nobody expected anything like this, especially in those days. Bands lived for three years.
“It’s something to do with the generation, the fact we were suffering from World War II until the sixties. It’s the technology too – before that you made 45s. It was almost a monthly business.
“Bringing out albums stretched the longevity for a band. The Beatles and ourselves got more room to expand.”
His biggest regret is the death of Jones in 1969. “That was a shock – we were all very close,” he says. “And I wouldn’t have taken certain things if I’d known what I’d have to go through to get off of it.
“Sometimes it’s hard work and you wonder why you’re doing it, but apart from those few moments it’s been an incredible adventure.”
And it’s not quite over yet for the outfit Richard describes as “fascinating and raunchy”. He reveals: “There’s things in the works. There’s nothing final. We’ve had a couple of rehearsals lately – I think it’s definitely happening, but when, I can’t say.
“There might be life in the old dog yet. We’ll die gracefully, elegantly wasted/”