The Scary Letter Keith Richards Received From Tony Blair

The Rolling Stones redefined not just rock ‘n’ roll but an entire culture in the ’60s. They enabled the rock scene to embark on a different era by introducing rock and blues music to a broader audience. Their creative artwork on the album covers, numerous influential songs, and taste in fashion were only some of the elements that established their presence on the rock stage.

However, they also attracted the spotlight with their rebellious spirit, which they never hesitated to express. They were politically engaged figures, unlike the established mainstream stars of the time. Their influence on young people was not only limited to exceptional musical satisfaction; they also showed them how to be a part of a counterculture.

According to Mick Jagger, ‘anarchy is the only slight glimmer of hope,’ and bearing in mind the politically turbulent period during which they rose to fame, it’s not surprising that they used their art to express their views. Thus, the Stones members managed to attract the attention not only of young fans but also of the police and politicians. Tony Blair was one of these politicians and would later write a letter to Keith Richards that would scare him.

After John Major from the Conservative Party resigned, Tony Blair was appointed prime minister of the United Kingdom in May 1997. He was the prime minister until his retirement in June 2007. One year before Blair retired, in 2006, Keith Richards had an unfortunate accident. He fell from a palm tree, and although he recovered after surgery, he returned from death’s door due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Upon hearing the news, Blair wrote him a letter.

The opening line of the letter was, “Dear Keith, you’ve always been one of my heroes.” Keith Richards was undoubtedly shocked by these lines, as the president of the United Kingdom had told him that he was his idol. More than being surprised, the guitarist found it frightening.

In an interview with Louder Sound in 2014, he recalled how he felt when he saw the letter. In fact, he wasn’t even asked directly about the letter, he was simply asked whether he ever felt scared in life, and that was the first thing that came to the musician’s mind.

“What scared me was a letter from Tony Blair, who apart from his best wishes, also wrote that I had always been his hero,” recalled the rocker. “The British head of state taking me, of all people, as a role model? That I found really scary.”

That wasn’t the only correspondence between the two. When British soldiers participated in a coalition invasion of Iraq with the decision of Tony Blair, Richards also wrote to Blair and expressed his support, saying that he should stick their guns. Blair, on the other hand, thanked his idol for this support.