Keith Richards Undergoes Surgery

The Rolling Stones postpone European summer jaunt as guitarist recovers

May 8, 2006 12:32 PM ET

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards underwent surgery at an Auckland, New Zealand, hospital on Monday after complaining of headaches. A week and a half ago, the sixty-two-year-old rocker had been choppered to Ascot hospital from Fiji and reportedly treated for a mild concussion, sustained after an accident while on vacation there with his wife. While details of the injury remain unclear, reports varied from a fall from a coconut tree to a jet ski accident.

"After complaining of headaches yesterday, doctors thought it prudent to move ahead with a small operation to remove the pressure," a statement from Richards' camp revealed. Although the specific reason for the surgery was not given, it is speculated that the operation was to relieve a blood clot and swelling on the brain.

The alleged tree fall would not be Richards' first share of freak accidents. In 1998, the guitarist suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung after a fall from a ladder at his home.

The Stones also had to deal with other health issues when drummer Charlie Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2004, right as Richards and Stones singer Mick Jagger were beginning to work on what would become the band's critically lauded comeback, 2005's A Bigger Bang. Talking to Rolling Stone last August, Richards said of the issue, "OK, shit hits the fan. But the bus is still rolling . . . You can't get off this machine, except when the wheels fall off."

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