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100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

10

Keith Richards


Keith Richards
Oeser/AFP/Getty
10/100

In his forty-one years with the Rolling Stones, Richards has created, and immortalized on record, rock's greatest single body of riffs — including the fuzz-tone SOS of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," the uppercut power chords of "Start Me Up," the black stab of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the strum and slash of virtually everything he plays on the Stones' 1972 classic, Exile on Main St. Richards is not a fancy guitarist; his style is a simple, personalized extension of his teenage ardor for Chuck Berry and the swarthy electricity of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Born in Dartford, England, in 1943, he was expelled from a technical college when he was sixteen. He immediately joined his childhood friend Mick Jagger and another R&B aficionado, Brian Jones, in a combo, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, that by 1962 — with bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts — had become the Rolling Stones. Richards is routinely hailed as the most indestructible of rock stars, but he credits his music with giving him life. As he told Rolling Stone last year, "You gotta be a real sourpuss, mate, not to get up there and play 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' without feeling like, 'C'mon, everybody, let's go.' " "Happy," Exile on Main St. (1972)

 
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