Published Dec 29, 2010In 2003, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was knighted for Services to Music -- a well-deserved honour for one of Britain's most beloved rock stars. Surprisingly, Jagger's bandmate and longtime collaborator, Keith Richards, did not receive the same recognition. Now, London Mayor Boris Johnson has spoken out about the oversight, arguing that Richards should be knighted.
In an article published in the Telegraph, Johnson blamed former British prime minister Tony Blair for not lobbying to get Richards knighted. Johnson wrote, "At last, I hope, a proper look of shame will cross the ingratiating features of our former leader. I hope he has the grace to blush. It is a continuing scandal that Keef Richards has not been made, at the very least, a knight bachelor."
While much of the article is clearly just a way for the Conservative Johnson to take shots at the former Labour Party PM, he also argued that Richards has made an invaluable contribution to British culture. "This is the man whose inexhaustible work ethic produced virtually every landmark Stones riff, from 'Satisfaction' to 'Honky Tonk Woman' to 'Start Me Up,' and whose lasting historical contribution was to reintroduce Americans to their own blues music," he wrote. "He is an inspiration to every London child who peeps a recorder or strums a guitar."
Johnson has a good point, as it seems unfair that Jagger should get knighted while his longtime songwriting partner is ignored. This oversight, he argues, is likely due to Richards's copious drug use and infamously debauched life of rock'n'roll excess. Still, as the mayor pointed out, "I cannot think of another member of the British artistic, cultural or media world who has done so much or who has so widely penetrated the global consciousness."
Then again, it's likely that Richards wouldn't want to be knighted, even if it was offered to him. In the video below, you can hear Richards talk to the BBC about Jagger's knighthood, saying, "It was a shoddy award. Anyway, I wouldn't let that family near me with a sharp stick, let alone a sword."
Check out Johnson's entire editorial over at the Telegraph. If you haven't read Richards's new memoir, Johnson also gives readers a breakdown of some of the juiciest parts.