Keith Richards’ fantasy four-piece band

Each member of The Rolling Stones has been a pivotal factor in their success, but they wouldn’t be anywhere near the band that they are without resident riff-master Keith Richards. His ability on the guitar has led to some of the band’s biggest hits, such as ‘Satisfaction’ ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’, and ‘Paint It Black’. However, his musical ability goes far beyond just the guitar.

Richards is widely credited as someone who takes the art of rock ‘n’ roll incredibly seriously. While still allowing himself to have fun within the world of music, he puts everything he has into what he creates, leading to a sound that is tough to pin down while simultaneously entirely recognizable.

He holds collaboration in high regard when making music, opting to move away from solitude and embrace the community aspect that often comes with rock and roll. “This idea of separation is the total antithesis of rock and roll,” he said, “Which is a bunch of guys in a room making a sound and just capturing it. It’s the sound they make together, not separated. This mythical bullshit about stereo and high tech and Dolby, it’s just totally against the whole grain of what music should be.”

So, if given the choice out of every musician to ever pick up an instrument, who would Keith Richards want to work with? Here, we will look at who his fantasy four-piece would be if mortality, money, and logistics weren’t an issue.

Guitar: Chuck Berry

Richards has never held back in revealing who initially got him into music. He has often recalled the moment he first set his eyes on Chuck Berry and his style of playing, which means it’s no surprise he would have Berry as his dream guitarist in the band.

When I started, all I wanted to do was play like Chuck [Berry],” he said. “I thought if I could do that, I’d be the happiest man in the world. When I saw Chuck Berry in Jazz on a Summer’s Day as a teenager, what struck me was how he was playing against the grain with a bunch of jazz guys… to me, that’s blues. That’s the attitude and the guts it takes. That’s what I wanted to be.

Drums: Charlie Watts

Richards has always held the position of the drummer in high regard. Not only does he incorporate them into the writing process from early on, but he also talks of the drumming landscape as one of the richest in music. “I mean, when you think about it, it always seems that the good drummers and great drummers are thin on the ground. But when you start to think about them… whoa!”

When Richards was asked about his favorite drummer, he reeled off a list of names. “It’s Steve Jordan, Charley Drayton, George Recile, Gene Krupa, Baby Dodds, I can go back and back, George Wettling.”

However, despite these names, he put them all below his friend and fellow Rolling Stone, Charlie Watts. “We will put him here,” he said, motioning his hand so high that Watts could near enough reach down and shake it.

Bass: Bill Wyman

Sticking with his Rolling Stone alumni, Richards would also have Bill Wyman in his fantasy four-piece. He greatly relies on the rhythm section when writing, saying, “If you’re talking about the concepts of the one rock and roll band, then it’s finding the right bass player to go.” As such, it’s hardly surprising that he would have Bill in his dream band, describing him as “incredible”.

Adding: “I’m still always amazed by Bill’s tastefulness in his bass playing, which is not something I think most people would think of, but when I listen back to what he’s playing behind me, I’ll knock out a song and say, ‘It goes like this Bill,’ then I hear what he’s put in behind it, and I’ve got to say this is the most discerning, compassionate musician… he’s like the top bass player for me, man.

Vocals: Aretha Franklin

When asked about his favorite singers, many of those that inspire Richards are heavily associated with rhythm and blues. One in particular to whom he paid homage was Aretha Franklin; as such, she claims the spot behind the microphone for his dream four-piece band.

The dictionary has been used up,” he said when asked to describe Franklin’s vocal talents when inducting her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “there’s no superlatives left, and there’s nothing to read anyway. What can I say about Aretha? You’re in, baby.”

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