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Here's the Story of the First Time Keith Richards Played the Guitar

He told us this story with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, of course.

Yesterday, we published our latest episode of Guitar Moves with Matt Sweeney. To kick off our new season, we sat down with the legend that is Keith Richards. The Rolling Stones icon spends about 15 minutes telling us how he learned how to play the guitar pretty much better than anybody else who's ever touched the instrument. He starts by emphasizing the importance of learning the feel of an acoustic guitar. "An astronaut doesn't start in space," he explains. "Somebody's got to build a rocket."


Mid-cigarette, of course, Richards recalls the very first time he played a guitar:

Me? My guitar lessons came from my grandfather who had a guitar. He's a musician: He'd been a fiddle player. Also he'd been a sax player. Wasn't a big deal or anything but he loved his music. There was always instruments around. He had a guitar hanging up on the wall and I was this high and he teased me for years about it because I kept looking at this damn thing on the wall. Way out of reach. He said, 'If you can reach out, I'll let you play around with it.' So I got the chair and a couple of big books and wobbled my way up. I came back in the room and had gotten the guitar. He said, 'OK, all you need to know is a learn little piece called Malagueña. It's a Spanish piece.' He hummed it to me and showed me the first part. He showed me that bit and that was the only part he showed me. He showed me no chords. Only the notes. I used my fingers. The pick came later. I said, 'Grandpa! Are you Spanish!?'"

Watch the full episode right here: