Best if you toss the tourist map, look for your own special places, when you travel. One July day in London, England, an accidental number of years ago, I took a walk in search of the apartment where, decades earlier, the Rolling Stones almost died.
An exaggeration, you say? Correct, for I refer here to only three members of the band: Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. I had read stories about these skinny young dudes who, crammed together into a tiny apartment, lacking musical (or other) employment, during a punishing winter, had to feed coins into a space heater, time and again, to get through the nights.
The “sensible lads” of the group – Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and “Sixth Stone” Ian Stewart – lived elsewhere, and presumably had regular work. The frosty air and bare refrigerator must have forced these skinny guys to focus, like industrial-grade lasers, on music. Imagine these kids – nobody’s future rock stars, back then – trying to stop shivering long enough, while they practiced their songbook, to ignore how hungry they were.
Hard to reconcile that sympathetic image, in the years since, with all the nonsense about how “devilish” they were supposed to be! (I didn’t find the place, of course, but it’s the voyage that matters; the place could have been knocked down, for all that I knew, or cared.) Indeed, it wasn’t the place where they had “almost died”; it’s closer to true to deem it to be the spot where the Stones’ unity was born. It’s not exactly a spoiler to reveal that they persisted, well past springtime.
- Keith Richards: A Pirate Looks at 70 (mensjournal.com)