Keith Richards had a close relationship with Lennon and once characterized him as “a particularly good friend of mine,” before revealing that he has “stories that cannot be revealed” about the two.
It was a winter Monday in New York. It was not snowing but the shots in the middle of the night not only froze the ‘Big Apple’: they chilled the world. The death of John Lennon affected as much or more than the assassination of John Kennedy.
Keith Richards recalls where he was when he learned of the death of an old buddy. The musician confessed to The Guardian in 2000, on the 20th anniversary of Lennon’s passing, that he was also in New York on that tragic afternoon.
Richards recalled: “I was downtown on Fifth Avenue in New York. The first bit of news I got, I thought: ‘He’ll make it. It’s just a flesh wound.’ And then, later on, the news really came. He wasn’t just a mate of mine, he was a mate of everybody’s, really. He was a funny guy. And you realise that you’re stunned. You really don’t believe it. And you think, ‘God, why can’t I do anything about it?’ I got well drunk on it. And I had another one for John. Then there was the confusion, the phone calls, trying to find out if Yoko was OK.”
“There were the Beatles, and there was John. As a band, they were a great unit. But John, he was his own man. We got along very well. We didn’t see each other very often. But he would sort of turn up at your hotel. Usually, if I was in the city, I’d stay at the Plaza. If John turned up, that meant he wanted to party.”
“He didn’t come there to discuss, you know, philosophy, although it would end up like that. I would just get into town, and there’d be a knock at the door: ‘Hey, mon, what is going on around here?’ We would get the guitars down and sing. And, in our spare time, discuss world domination.”
The Rolling Stones guitarist concluded: “He’s rubbed off on me as much as anybody. A bit of me rubbed off on John, too, you know. He took it with him. My father just passed away, and he winked at me just before he died. I really feel a lot better about death now. I’m getting off on that wink. I’d give the wink to John.”