Keith Richards: I'm as black as the ace of spades

Keith Richards
Keith Richards (Image credit: Getty)

Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards says he is “as black as the ace of spades” in response to the debate around cultural appropriation in blues music.

In 1966, blues man Muddy Waters reportedly told a journalist that frontman Mick Jagger “stole” his music, but gave him his name – pointing to the revival of his singing career as the Stones spiralled to success.

But 72-year-old Richards insists “work songs” and slavery have been around since the beginning of time – and that the genre should not be defined by race.

He tells Rolling Stone: “I’m black as the ace of fucking spades, man. Ask any of the brothers.

“I didn’t know what colour these people were, as a kid. I don’t think of blues as being of any particular colour at all.

“Obviously, its history. But there were white slaves, as well. There have been plenty of work songs from way back. Try Egypt. Quite Jewish, actually. People have been doing this since history began.”

Ronnie Wood also recalls Bob Dylan’s nonchalance when he congratulated him on winning the Nobel Prize at California’s Desert Trip last month. The songwriter was called “impolite and arrogant” by a member of the Swedish Academy for refusing to acknowledge his accolade – before he officially declined to appear at the ceremony this week.

When Wood asked the singer how he felt about winning, Dylan said:“‘I don’t know,’ “How should I feel? Is it good?’

The guitarist adds: “I said to him, ‘You’re kidding. We really think it’s great and you deserve it.’ And Dylan said, ‘Do I?’”

Rolling Stones confirm they’re currently “cooking up” their next record. They’ll also release their blues covers album Blue and Lonesome next month.

Rolling Stones Blue & Lonesome tracklist

  1. Just Your Fool (Little Walter)
  2. Commit A Crime (Howlin’ Wolf)
  3. Blue And Lonesome (Little Walter)
  4. All Of Your Love (Magic Sam)
  5. I Gotta Go (Little Walter)
  6. Everybody Knows About My Good Thing
  7. (Little Johnny Taylor)
  8. Ride ‘Em On Down (Eddie Taylor)
  9. Hate To See You Go (Little Walter)
  10. Hoo Doo Blues (Lightnin’ Slim)
  11. Little Rain (Jimmy Reed)
  12. Just Like I Treat You (Willie Dixon)
  13. I Can’t Quit You Baby (Willie Dixon)

Interview: Keith Richards and Charlie Watts on The Rolling Stones In Exile

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.