Keith Richards: But What Would Bill Say?

Keith. Bugs not pictured. Image: Ian Gavan/Getty Images Europe.

During a live show that eventually ended up on his album, ‘Dangerous’, comedian Bill Hicks was riffing on the subject of healthy living when he made the following observation:

Keith Richards outlived Jim Fixx, the runner and health-nut dude. . . . The plot thickens. . . . Keith Richards is shooting heroin into his eyeballs and still touring, all right? I’m getting mixed signals. I picture nuclear war and two things surviving: Keith and bugs.

Twenty-two years on, nuclear stalemate has prevented Hick’s theory from being proven fully, although to be fair, Keith himself has given it a good old crack – surviving a heavy fall from a coconut tree whilst on holiday in Fiji and attempting to inhale his Dad. Yesterday he was onstage celebrating the Stone’s 50th anniversary.

Somewhere in this godforsaken sphere of consciousness, Bill Hicks is laughing his ass off, y’know. Between cigarettes.

Bill Hicks: The More Things Change…

Image: AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis.

This photo of a beggar lying in a Athens street beneath a photo of the Greek national soccer team reminded me of a quote by legendary comedian Bill Hicks from 1993. Bill was talking about defence expenditure coming before third world aid, but the current financial crisis that has seen the disparity between rich and poor only widen further is just as relevant a context.

Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

I doubt Bill, if he had survived pancreatic cancer that eventually killed him in February 1994, would have been surprised that his comments would still be so relevant nearly twenty years on. He may have been a cynic, but he was also a realist.