I was strolling up the sidewalk (some stroll down; I stroll up!), just a couple of blocks from the city center, in my town of Seattle, Washington in 1988. I was simply making my way to the bus stop, having finished my shift at The Bank of California, Seattle branch, where I was employed. It was a sunny day. It was a routine day. – Nothing out of the ordinary; with nothing on the horizon to change that, as far as I knew.
And then suddenly, I saw the Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards leaning casually against a large tree, where he was engaging in conversation with a rather scruffy, but well-mannered dude. Keith himself was wearing a full-length black leather coat, which was probably the most expensive item of apparel I have ever seen a gentleman attired in. He actually looked like a king. But, a king who had lived a very, very hard life. I mean, his history was written all over his face….
I didn’t want to intrude, so I hung back a few yards. But, I wanted to say hello, so I decided to wait until the two men were finished conversing. Well, they had a long talk! I was amazed at the amount of time Mr. Richards gave this person. — And impressed. I could hear their talk. It was about – wait for it – the Rolling Stones! The guy obviously knew a great deal about the band; he was certainly a real fan. I stood there, waiting patiently; they eventually wrapped up their visit. When the other fellow walked away, Keith cast his eyes on me.
I’m fickle. If this had of been George Harrison, who of course was among the living at that time, or Sir Paul, I would have been just staggered. — And speechless. But it was Keith Richards. And although I have a first-edition tongue and lip design logo patch which I’ve treasured since 1971, when my Mom kindly sewed it onto my jean jacket; plus I had a 1975, black Fender Telecaster Custom, just like Keith’s more famous one, and used it in several Seattle bands, including the long-lived Stampede Pass, I was not the world’s biggest Stones/Keith fan.
But still, I wanted to say something. So, when he turned toward me, I simply said, “God Bless, Keith”. He replied in a sincere tone, “God Bless”. I felt like that was all I needed, and I didn’t want to take up any more of his time. So giving him a friendly nod and smile, I went on my way.
Then, it hit me. I had just shared a blessing with one of the icons of rock n’ roll! — A living legend. I had previously appeared with the one and only Willie Nelson while a member of Stampede Pass, and I’d performed on a TV show along with the Hudson Brothers in 1967, as a member of the teen group I helped start, the Velvet Illusions. Mark Hudson produced/co-produced nine Ringo Starr albums. So I was used to being around some of music’s leading lights. — But still, there was only one Rolling Stones, and only one Keith Richards. When this dawned on me, I felt very euphoric – very happy.
As I turned the corner, I saw three people walking in my direction: a very tall, hefty gentleman, a strikingly beautiful woman, and a middle-aged, long-haired guy, who was holding her hand. I figured this was my chance to impress some fellow hipsters. So, addressing them, I said, “Hey, I just talked to Keith Rich— and then I realized that the long-haired guy, who, by the way, reminded me very much of a helium balloon – he looked like he would float away if his female companion let go of his hand – was Ron Wood, the Rolling Stones’ own guitar player! I was embarrassed and thrilled, at the same time! — We all laughed.
I walked on down the road. Doubly-blessed.
After I got home, and while watching the local news, I caught a story which featured two Seattle women excitedly relating their tale of having visited with Mick Jagger himself, in downtown Seattle, right around the same time I ran into Keith and Ronny.
(In this story, I used creative commons photos of the Stones, from 1988, or very close to 1988.)