Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has opened up about the profound impact Chuck Berry had on his life.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Keith paid poignant tribute to Chuck calling him “the granddaddy of us all” and saying that as a teenage lad growing up in Dartford “Chuck’s music blasted you into another stratosphere.”
Eventually becoming friends and a collaborator with the rock and roll forefather, Keith opened up about the “prickly” side of Chuck’s persona.
Keith said: “He was a little prickly, but at the same time there was a very warm guy underneath that he wasn't that willing to display. There were other times between us when we're sitting around and rehearsing, and going, 'Man, you know, between us we got that s*** down’ – and there would be a beautiful, different feeling.”
As Keith first revealed on My Planet Rocks with Liz Barnes back in 2014, the guitarist’s first encounter with Chuck ended up with the rock pioneer punching him in the face.
Keith told Liz at the time: “He’d left his guitar out in his dressing room and I’d just been sitting there and I just picked it up. And he walks in, ‘nobody touches that’, bam!! But he didn’t know it was me.
“And then a few months later I get sort of these apologetic, ‘Keith I didn’t know it was you’. It don’t matter. Chuck, you did the right move, I wouldn’t let nobody touch mine either!”
In his new Rolling Stone interview, Keith dubbed the black eye as Chuck’s “greatest hit”, adding: “He would do things like throw me offstage, too. I always took that as a reverse compliment, sort of as a sign of respect – because otherwise he wouldn't bother with me.”
Explaining how the news of Chuck’s death hit him hard last month, Keith said: “When I got the call that he was gone, it wasn't a total, unexpected shock, but I kind of got the strange feeling that I remembered when Buddy Holly died.
“I was in school, and this whisper started to go around the classroom. The whole class gave this collective gasp of horror. This was that same blow to the gut. It hit me harder than I expected. But Chuck certainly hung in there. There's another thing I hope to emulate.”
Chuck Berry died at his Missouri home on Saturday 18th March. He was 90-years-old.