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Is it “Keith Richards” or “Keith Richard?” Let’s clear that up

What’s the last name of the Rolling Stones lead guitarist? Is it “Keith Richards” or “Keith Richard?” The answer is “both.”

Keef was born Keith Richards on December 18, 1943, in Dartford, Kent, the only child of Doris and Herbert Richards. Note the “s” at the end of the name.

He remained Keith Richards until 1963 and the founding of the Rolling Stones. Their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, a very image- and fashion-conscious guy, had a problem with Keef’s surname.

“That’s not very ‘pop,’ innit,” he said. “Besides, Cliff Richard [an increasingly popular British pop star] does all right with that name, doesn’t he?” Maybe Oldham was thinking that people might assume that this new Stones guy was related to Cliff. That’s never been confirmed, but it does sound like the Oldham would operate.

Keith was amenable to the change. As he later told the BBC:

The Rolling Stones‘ Keith Richards has revealed that he used to hate his name – because he thought it was not cool enough.

“It made me sick – my name’s Keith Richards,” he said. “It hardly makes it against Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, does it?

On my first guitar, I had Boy Blue written – just pathetic. But that was as good as I got at the time

From that point on, Keef was billed as “Keith Richard” through the rest of the 60s and through the 1970s. Check any original album release from that era and you’ll see him referred by his truncated name.

But then, a change of heart. Sometime around Keef’s arrest on drug possession in Toronto on February 27, 1977, he decided to re-add the “s” to his last name. What precipitated the change or when it exactly happened seems unclear.

Any able to add any extra detail?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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3 thoughts on “Is it “Keith Richards” or “Keith Richard?” Let’s clear that up

  • It can be Richard or Richards he still is a guitar GOD and will be till the end of time. Keef!

  • The emerging Punk culture was developing a kind of loose theory around bands not ending in ‘s’ were the _’Dinosaurs’._
    (Clash/Damned/Wire notwithstanding)
    There WAS some evidence of that.
    (Many ‘old-guard’ missing the ‘s’.)
    (Many Punks having the ‘s’.)

    I believe Keef got wind of this/Decided it was _’prententious’_ /& added it back on.
    At the time, he said something like: “It sounds too ‘poppy’.” Or, something like that.
    I agree.
    Rock On!
    – Dave B.

  • Tried posting a response.
    Didn’t seem to ‘take’. (!?!)
    (I think I have the answer)
    – Dave B.


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