A complete collection of Keith Richards’ favourite songs

If any singular band embodied the British Invasion of the American charts, it would be The Rolling Stones. Keith Richards and Brian Jones, in particular, were disciples of American Blues music and set out in the early 1960s with a clear-cut goal of popularising the genre in the UK charts. With a heavy bombardment of blues covers in their early releases, the Stones managed to reach this milestone by December 1964, when their cover of Willie Dixon’s blues standard ‘Little Red Rooster’ hit number one on the UK Singles Chart. Everything after was gravy on top.

The Rolling Stones picked up where their idols left off, and beyond their wildest imagination, they began to pervade the charts in the US. Over their first two decades, they had the chance to meet some of their heroes and even play alongside them from time to time.

One of Richards’ proudest moments as a musician came in 1981 when he and Mick Jagger joined Blues legend Muddy Waters onstage at the Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago. “You want to be a blues player, the next minute you fucking well are, and you’re stuck right amongst them, and there’s Muddy Waters standing next to you,” Richards told Uncut some years later. “It happens so fast you really can’t register all of the impressions that are coming at you… It’s one thing to play a Muddy Waters song. It’s another thing to play with him.”

Naturally, the below list is almost entirely comprised of Blues tracks, starting off fittingly with the band’s namesake courtesy of the late Brian Jones. Elsewhere, usual suspects like Elvis Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry and BB King all make appearances.

The list has been collated from a number of revealing interviews and DJ appearances Richards has undertaken throughout his six glorious decades at the top of the rock ‘n’ roll pile. Among the Blues classics, one can also enjoy Richards’ great taste in folk, jazz, classical and country music.

During a 2021 radio interview with Planet Rock, Richards stood in as DJ for an hour or two, picking out some of his favourite records of all time. Identifying his mother as a key influence on his eclectic musical education during the session, he said: “My mother, she loved jazz: she loved Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, and Duke Ellington, and that’s what was around the house,” Richards explains about how his parent’s taste in music influenced his own. “There’s a lot of blues in jazz. And so, in a way, it was in the bones before I actually got to hear country blues – I already felt familiar with it.”

You will also notice the presence of the early Beatles classic, ‘Please Please Me’, on the list. Despite a media-fabricated rivalry, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were close friends throughout the ‘60s and deeply admired each others’ work.

“I’ve always told McCartney, ‘Please Please Me’,” Richards once said, revealing his favourite song by the Fab Four. “I just love the chimes, and I was there at the time, and it was beautiful. Mind you, there’s plenty of others, but if I’ve got to pick one, ‘Please Please Me’…oh, yeah!”

Elsewhere, fans might be intrigued to find a touch of classical music by the brilliant Vivaldi. Richards picked this gem out during his visit to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2015.

“Suddenly, I got classical,” the Stone said, announcing the classical composition. “I was agonising about this as Mozart was my man. But I found out, while reading some of his letters, that the only good word he had to say about any composer in the world was Vivaldi.” The guitarist then pointed out that there would be “no seasons” on a desert island, so he’d bring Vivaldi’s ode to spring.

See the full list of Keith Richards’ favourite songs of all time below.

Keith Richards’ favourite songs:
Muddy Waters – ‘Rollin’ Stone’
Sonny Boy Williamson II – ‘Checkin Up On My Baby’
Jimmy Reed – ‘You Got Me Dizzy’
Muddy Waters -‘Still a Fool’
Little Walter – ‘Key to the Highway’
Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters – ‘The Red Rooster’
John Lee Hooker – ‘Boom Boom’
Otis Redding – ‘These Arms of Mine’
Freddie King – ‘Going Down’
Robert Johnson – ‘Love In Vain’
The Beatles – ‘Please Please Me’
Chuck Berry – ‘Wee Wee Hours’
Hank Williams – ‘You Win Again’
Aaron Neville – ‘My True Story’
Etta James – ‘Sugar On The Floor’
Freddie Scott – ‘Are You Lonely For Me’
Gregory Isaacs – ‘Extra Classic’
Nigel Kennedy and the English Chamber Orchestra – ‘Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons’
Al Green – ‘Take Me To The River’
Booker T & The MGs – ‘Baby, Scratch My Back’
Otis Redding – ‘Pain In My Heart’
Irma Thomas – ‘Ruler Of My Heart’
Albert King – ‘That’s What The Blues Is All About’
Aaron Neville – ‘Tell It Like It Is’
Clarence ‘Bon Ton’ Garlow – ‘Bon Ton Roulet’
Blind Willie McTell – ‘Talkin’ To Your Mama’
Howlin’ Wolf – ‘Moanin’ At Midnight’
T-Bone Walker – ‘(They Call It) Stormy Monday’
BB King – ‘Everyday I Have The Blues’
Ike & Tina Turner – ‘I Can’t Believe What You Say’
Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Jah Is Mighty’
John Lee Hooker – ‘I’m In The Mood’
Billie Holiday – ‘He’s Funny That Way’
Little Richard – ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’
Professor Longhair & His Shuffling Hungarians – ‘Mardi Gras In New Orleans’
Clifton Chenier – ‘Ay-Te Te Fee’
Amos Milburn – ‘Down The Road Apiece’
Jackie Brenston – ‘Rocket 88’
Robert Johnson – ‘Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)’
Jimmy Rogers – ‘Goin’ Away Baby’
Lead Belly – ‘The Midnight Special’
Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown – ‘Okie Dokie Stomp’
Elvis Presley – ‘Heartbreak Hotel’

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