The Only Time Keith Richards Thought He Was Going To Die

Keith Richards has reached international fame as one of the most prominent musicians on the rock scene. He is widely considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and his songwriting partnership with Mick Jagger has ensured the Rolling Stones’ success. Although he has been widely praised for his talents, several aspects of his personal life have attracted more attention, especially from the press.

His romantic involvements, heroin addiction, and approach to life are the reasons he has been portrayed as a countercultural figure. One of the most interesting aspects of his life is definitely his ability to escape death. The guitarist has found himself in several dangerous situations, such as bombings, poisoning, being burned alive, electrocution, house fire, and that’s not even the end of the list. However, there was one incident from which Richards thought he would come out dead.

How Many Times Has Keith Richards Cheated Death?

Although the answer to that question would require a long list, we are here to give you the most striking ones. The series of unlucky events started before Richards was one year old. The guitarist was born in 1943 in London, and by 1944 his family started fearing for their lives under the shadow of the Blitz. At the height of the raids and bombings, Keith’s mother decided to escape to the countryside, which saved his life. Upon their return, they found out that their neighbors had been murdered.

Another chilling incident occurred in 1968 when Keith Richards was on stage. While performing ‘The Last Time,’ the guitarist realized that his mic was facing the wrong way, and as his vocals were coming up, he tried to turn around the microphone stand using the neck of his guitar. This turned out to be a horrible decision as the mic was apparently not properly grounded. Thus, the guitar’s impact with the mic acted as a lightning rod and sent a massive electric pulse down the guitar’s strings and into his body. Later, people in the audience said that they saw a blue light in front of Keith, which threw him into the air backward.

While the list could go on and on, it wouldn’t be right to skip the Rolling Stones’ infamous Altamont Free Concert in 1969, which is said to have marked the end of rock culture’s ‘peace and love’ era. The counterculture rock festival was attended by approximately 300,000 people and is remembered for considerable violence, which led to three accidental deaths and the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter. Just before the murder, the Rolling Stones were trying to calm down the audience when Hunter aggressively approached the stage and later drew a revolver targeting the band, but was then killed by a Hells Angel, 20 feet away from Richards. The band quickly left the event using a helicopter.

When Did Keith Richards Come Closest To Dying?

As you can see above, the guitarist has cheated death several times, and those are not the only instances as well. Keith Richards has also survived strychnine poisoning, falling out of a tree, a house fire, a long heroin addiction, and a library falling on him. While many rock fans are convinced that Keith Richards is immortal since he is still alive and kicking at the age of 78, the musician has also expressed his surprise towards coming out of these accidents alive.

Since he has cheated death numerous times, Richards’ approach to these incidents is often snarky. He also seems convinced that an immortality cloak protects him from misfortunes. However, during a conversation on a radio station in 2015, Keith Richards admitted that there was one time he sincerely feared that it would cost him his life and reflected on how his life flashed before his eyes.

When the host asked the guitarist about the incident that made him feel like ‘this is it,’ the guitarist vaguely recalled being in a car accident a ‘couple of times.’ As you know, car crashes have taken away numerous lives in the rock scene, such as Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Nicholas ‘Razzle’ Dingley’s, and thus, it must have been traumatizing for Keith as well. Richards recalled feeling that he had reached the end while ‘flying through the air in a Mercedes upside down’ and then hitting the ground. However, he added that since that didn’t mark his end as well, the only thing he could do was carry on with his life.

Here’s what Keith Richards responded after being asked about his most memorable near-death experience:

“Well, there’s been a few times of flying through the air in a Mercedes upside down and hitting the ground three times where you do kind of sort of get the hint that maybe this is it. But if it ain’t it, then you just carry on with life, right? I mean, boo, we all bump into death at one time or another, honey.”

In late December 2021, Keith Richards celebrated his 78th birthday, and the rock musician hit the stage earlier that year with the Rolling Stones to finally conclude their 2019 No Filter Tour. The band went back to the stage in September 2021, and the remaining dates of 2019 were finally completed in November 2021. The Rolling Stones gave their fans shows to remember, and Keith Richards’s performance once again proved the rockstar might indeed be immortal.