Keith Richards' Record for Sleepless Nights Is Longer Than You May Think

Outside of his musical abilities, Keith Richards gained a reputation for his rock and roll lifestyle, one that nearly derailed his career. The Rolling Stones guitarist has a prolific amount of stories from this period. He nearly has too many anecdotes for one lifetime. One such story takes place over a period of 9 days where Richards didn’t sleep at all.

Keith Richards is well-known for his hard-partying lifestyle

Richards dedicated himself to living the life of a rock star. He’s been the target of massive drug busts, nearly burned down the Playboy Mansion, and come close to death on more than a handful of occasions. 

Fans of The Rolling Stones are familiar with Richards’ years of drug use throughout the ’60s and ’70s. According to Rolling Stone, Richards was the target of many a drug bust. One arrest in Canada nearly landed him in prison while The Rolling Stones were at the height of their fame. He was able to avoid prison time by playing a benefit concert. 

In his storied career, he also embarked on an “acid-fueled road trip” with John Lennon” and did cocaine at the dinner table of a baby shower. 

He once went nine days without sleep while working on an album

In the mid-’70s, The Rolling Stones hit a slump. Some believed that they were past their prime, dragging on despite a decline in their work. 

“Everyone was using drugs, Keith particularly,” Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone. “So I think it suffered a bit from all that. General malaise. I think we got a bit carried away with our own popularity and so on. It was a bit of a holiday period. I mean, we cared, but we didn’t care as much as we had. Not really concentrating on the creative process.”

While recording the album that reversed their downward trend, Some Girls, Richards stayed awake for five days straight. This is a startling amount of time to stay awake, but it’s not Richards’ longest sleepless stretch. In his autobiography Life, Richards explained that his record is nine days. 

“Nine days without a wink,” he wrote. “I fell asleep standing up, eventually … I was just putting another cassette back on the shelf, and I was feeling great, and I turned ’round and fell asleep. I fell against the edge of the speaker. Woke up in a pool of blood, wondering, ‘Is that claret?’”

Keith Richards’ work ethic is still evident

His sleepless dedication to work is absolutely ill-advised, but Richards’ work ethic is strong to this day. In 2021, The Rolling Stones kicked off another year of touring nearly 60 years after the band formed. After decades, Richards still gets a thrill from performing live.

“I don’t know if you can get immune to it, but it’s still a kick, man,” he told BBC. He joked that he may need a wheelchair for the 60th anniversary in 2022, but he’ll still take the stage. One can just hope that he’ll sleep in between performances.

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