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02 July 2013

The Stones: When Did Porky Keef Become The Waxworks' 'Mr Big'?

Much as Craig enjoyed watching the Rolling Stones live from Glastonbury, he couldn't help being distracted by Keith Richards' brand new tummy

 God Save The Cream!

By Craig Brown

Over the years, Keith Richards' fans have argued that he is twice the man Mick Jagger ever was. At long last, it seems they have the proof to back up their claim.

Much as I enjoyed watching the Rolling Stones live from Glastonbury, I couldn’t help being distracted by the size of Keith Richards’ brand new tummy. 

The whole concert was, in its way, like an old-fashioned Spot the Ball competition: viewed head-on, Keith looked his usual self, lean and moody, but every time he moved sideways, there was the bump, like a football, or even a Space Hopper, hiding beneath his great tent of an XXL shirt.

On Saturday, Mick looked as skinny as can be: had Keith come onstage before him, I might have guessed that Mick was plotting a surprise entrance by hiding beneath the folds of Keith’s shirt, tucked up in there like a baby wallaby.

This overnight tubbiness wouldn’t matter with other stars. From its earliest days, pop has always reserved a place for the fuller figure.

Bill Haley, who is generally credited with having the first rock ’n’ roll hit, was always very portly, and the first hit by the great Fats Domino (still with us, and, to my mind, far more of a pioneer than Haley) was The Fat Man (1950), with its winning chorus:

They call me the fat man

Cause I weigh 200 pounds

All the girls they love me

Cause I know my way around.

Closer to our own time, no one expects Elton John, say, or Van Morrison, or Brian Wilson to be svelte. In fact, it would be rather shocking if any of them were suddenly to lose weight, just as it was shocking when tubby old Nigel Lawson went on a binge-diet and emerged, a few weeks later, looking just like Lester Piggott.

But there are one or two rock stars for whom being thin is their be-all and end-all. It would be deeply upsetting, for instance, if Sir Cliff Richard were to start piling on the pounds, as it would suggest that this most self-disciplined of characters had suddenly spun out of control. 

At the other end of the rock spectrum, Keith Richards has always been treated as the coolest of the cool because he seemed immune to everything — drink, drugs, imprisonment — that life could throw at him. But life at last seems to have caught up with him, after throwing him nothing more edgy than a bumper pack of pork pies.

Over the weekend, the BBC turned into the GBC, or Glastonbury Broadcasting Corporation, with unavoidable hours and hours of Glastonbury on BBC 2, 3,and 4. At one point, I switched on the television to see what was happening, only to be confronted by a very very fat man with a red face screaming at the top of his voice, wearing the sort of floaty, silhouette-defying top favoured by Dame Barbara Cartland in her latter years.

Bill Haley, who is generally credited with having the first rock 'n' roll hit, was always very portly, and the first hit by the great Fats Domino (pictured) was The Fat Man (1950)

Bill Haley, who is generally credited with having the first rock 'n' roll hit, was always very portly, and the first hit by the great Fats Domino (pictured) was The Fat Man (1950)

It turned out to be Johnny Rotten, aka John Lydon, now looking just like the late Sir Cyril Smith would have done had he ever asked his barber in Rochdale for a Mohican, or like the equally late Demis Roussos, if he had shaved off his beard and painted his face bright red.

Might he be the victim of too many extra dollops of all that Country Life butter he used to advertise?

He is, alas, another of those rock-stars whose image is entirely dependent on skinniness.

Now that he has quadrupled in size, he looks less like an angry young rebel than a livid old Colonel.

Time, I think, for a re-working of those old Sex Pistols hits. God Save The Cream (Snort!) would be an appropriate curtain-raiser, with Apple Crumble In The UK as their closing number.

And will Keith Richard bring his considerable weight to bear on up-dating the Rolling Stones back catalogue? With only a little tweaking, the list of tracks on the back of their next Greatest Hits collection could read like this:

1    Sympathy for the Breville

2    Ain’t Too Proud To Bake

3    Roast This Joint 

4    As Beers Go By

5    Under My Tum

6    Fool to Fry

7    Gimme Shellfish

8    Cherry Cake Oh Baby

9    Can’t You Hear Me Slurping?

10    Batter Move On

11    I Wanna Be Your Flan

12    Slumping Jack Flash

13    Let It Burst

14    Big Red Rooster

15    Eggs Benedict on Main Street

16    Sticky Toffee Fingers

17    Far Away Pies.

18    Midnight Blueberry Crumbler

19    Harlem Truffle 

 20    Sit Me Up

 21    Miss Stew

 22    You Got the Sliver

 23    We Love Chew

 24    Tumbling Rice

 25    Gooseberry Fool To Cry

Beneath all the protestations of cool in his 2010 autobiography, Keith Richards admitted that he had been off drugs for 30 years, that Claridge’s hotel was his London address, and that he relaxes by listening to Mozart and reading the seafaring novels of Patrick O’Brian. ‘I live a gentleman’s life,’ he said. 

So perhaps it’s only appropriate that he can now boast a gentleman’s stomach, too.

SoRo:  So brutally good, but the guy is, like, ANCIENT and, if snorting his own father's ashes didn't kill him, I don't think the clotted cream will.

Help name Keef's 'baby bump.'

Update (h/t PatriotGal):   

Put Your Teeth In And Get Some 'Satisfaction'

By Dave Barry

RECENTLY I ATTENDED a Rolling Stones concert. This is something I do every two decades. I saw the Stones in the 1960s, and again in the 1980s. I plan to see them next in the 2020s, then the 2040s, and then the 2060s, at their 100th anniversary concert.

By then, of course, I will be a very old man with no working organs. But I'm sure medical science will figure out a way to get me to a Stones concert. Maybe I'll be just a head, with no body, kept alive in a Plexiglas container carried around by an attendant. When the Stones play, I'll express my excitement by instructing my attendant to dance with the attendant who is holding the head of the baby boomer next to me.

I have no doubt that the Stones will still be playing decades from now. They're amazing physical specimens. I mean, they're basically 60-year-old men, but when you see them up close, they look, incredibly, more like 90-year-old men, except for Keith Richards, who looks like a giant iguana that has learned to walk erect and play guitar.

Keith is not a health nut. His idea of taking care of his body is to occasionally play an entire song without smoking a cigarette. He has very deep facial creases: You expect at any moment to see a prairie dog poke its head out of his face, blink at the lights, then duck down again. Keith would not notice this. I'm pretty sure the Stones have a guy on a walkie-talkie somewhere, transmitting to Keith's earpiece, reminding him to blink.

The other Stones look healthier than Keith, but then, so does the late Chairman Mao. This is not a pretty-boy band. If they've had any plastic surgery, it was apparently done at Home Depot.

But their looks don't matter, nor does the fact that they have ear hairs older than Britney Spears. What matters is that, in clear violation of the laws of biology, the Stones are still performing, and they're really good. They do a butt-kicking two-hour show that does not rely on special effects, aside from Mick Jagger's pants, which are the smallest pants I have ever seen on a grown man. They look like he got them in the Toy's 'R' Us Barbie section, from a box labeled "Rock Star Ken."

The Stones also do not engage in elaborate choreography, nor do they lip-sync, unless you count when Keith Richards and Ron Wood puff on their cigarettes simultaneously. What the Stones do, really well, is play instruments, unlike these so-called (warning, warning: old-fossil rant coming) "bands" you see today where some guy is fussing with a turntable and carrying on as though this is a display of virtuoso musical skill, instead of what it actually is, which is a guy operating a record player. What's next? "Musicians" changing stations on a radio? "Musicians" operating toaster-ovens? This is not musicianship! This is craugh cough cough carrgle (sound of dentures being ejected).

Sorry. My point is that the Stones may be old, but, consarn it, they can still play. 

They sound as good to me today as they did in 1965, when I used to cruise slowly past Pleasantville High School -- I had to cruise slowly, because I was driving my mom's Plymouth Valiant station wagon, which boasted roughly the same top speed as a parking meter -- with the radio blasting "Satisfaction," which in 1965 seemed to be coming out of every radio all the time, even if the radio was turned off.

If you can remember 1965, you would have fit right in at the Stones concert. It was an older crowd, a crowd that would not enter a mosh pit unless there was reserved seating. The guy in front of me -- long white hair, ponytail -- held his cell phone in his right hand for the entire concert. While his left hand was thrusting into the air in time to the music, his right thumb was pressing phone buttons. Rock and roll!

Also on hand were the guys who go to every concert I go to and always manage to sit near me, including the guy who whistles really loud pretty much nonstop, and the guy who has 11 beers and feels the need to give everybody around him a violent high-five at least twice per song, which means you have to high-five him back, or there will be nothing to stop his hand from slamming into your face.

But I'm not complaining. It was a great concert, and the Stones are an inspiration to all of us older people who still want to "get down," insofar as this is possible with artificial hips. So to the Stones I say: Thank you.

And to Keith, I say: Blink.

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