LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Keith Richards may never have met a drug he didn’t like, but on Wednesday the Rolling Stones guitarist denied mixing his father’s ashes with cocaine and snorting the ghoulish concoction.
The 63-year-old rocker caused an international uproar on Tuesday when newspaper New Musical Express quoted him as saying: “The strangest thing I’ve tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow ... . It went down pretty well, and I‘m still alive.”
Richards, known for his death-defying appetite for drugs, said in a statement on his band’s Web site, rollingstones.com, that “the complete story (was) lost in the usual slanting.”
“The truth of the matter is that I planted a sturdy English Oak. I took the lid off the box of ashes, and he is now growing oak trees and would love me for it!!! I was trying to say how tight Bert and I were. That tight!!! I wouldn’t take cocaine at this point in my life unless I wished to commit suicide.”
Bert Richards died in 2002 at age 84. The World War Two veteran was estranged from his son for decades, but they made up in the 1980s, and the father moved to his son’s Connecticut estate, where they played dominoes every Friday night.
With his mutton-chop sideburns, pipe and crossword puzzle, Bert Richards was frequently spotted at Rolling Stones concerts.
While Keith Richards may have drawn the line at snorting his dead dad, the so-called “walking laboratory” and “world’s most elegantly wasted human being” is inextricably linked to tales of legendary hard living and drug abuse.
He once went for nine days without sleep, and said he wrote most of his songs during the ‘70s while on heroin. “Then again, I was never just on smack. I was on everything else as well,” he told music magazine Uncut in 2004.
Perhaps most infamously, he was said to regularly fly to Switzerland for a complete change of blood. Or so the myth goes. That story also grew out of a flippant remark to journalists.
The consequences of his actions have been relatively minimal, with Richards falling prey to just a few freak accidents.
Last year he hit his head while on vacation in Fiji and had to undergo brain surgery. Fans have reported that he sometimes looks bewildered on stage, and can lash out at his bandmates in frustration when things go wrong.
The Rolling Stones are gearing up for a European tour that begins June 5 in Belgium.