A rolling stone may gather no moss, but one Rolling Stone is gathering a surprising new hobby: writing books. Keith Richards is working on what is sure to be his second best-selling book, but this time it will be a volume for children.
The Rolling Stones guitarist and co-songwriter, with Mick Jagger, surprised many in 2010 with a thoughtful, top-selling autobiography, Life. Between stories of his rock-and-roll excesses, the book conveyed Richards’ passion for and connection with music. Now, Richards is working on an upcoming children’s picture book that will talk about the person who inspired that love for music, his grandfather.
Richards’ book, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar, will be published on Sept.9 by Brown Books for Young Readers. The company announced on Tuesday that the volume will be released as a hardcover book with an accompanying CD and as an ebook.
The new book will revisit some of Richards’ childhood memories of his maternal grandfather, Theodore Augustus Dupree, that were described in his autobiography. Dupree introduced Richards to music and reportedly gave him his first guitar when he was nine or 10. His grandfather was a jazz musician in a big band that toured Britain. He had played violin and saxophone prior to suffering damaged lungs during a World War I gas attack. Dupree was a factory worker later. Richards noted in his autobiography that his grandfather was not great at guitar, but taught him the basics, including the major chords.
Now 70 years old, Richards can relate to the bond with his grandfather from his own memories and his interaction now with his own grandchildren. The Stones guitarist has five grandchildren and hopes he is as good a grandfather to them as Gus was to him.
Richards’ story about Dupree giving him the guitar is being adapted by Barnaby Harris and Bill Shapiro. Keith Richards is also working on the book for children with his own daughter, Theodora Dupree Richards. Theodora, 28, who was named after her great-grandfather, studied at the New York Academy of Art and the School of Visual Arts. She is illustrating the work with pen and ink collages. There will also be family photographs in the book.
Dupree may have given him his first guitar, but today his grandson reportedly has a collection of more than 350 guitars. Richards claims to be an avid reader, particularly history books. He is currently on tour with the Rolling Stones and his childhood pal, Jagger.
The Rolling Stone member is not the first rock artist to work on a children’s book. Madonna put out several kids books, including her best-selling English Roses series. Ringo Starr allowed his song, Octopus’s Garden, to be turned into a picture book. Judy Collins, Gloria Estefan, Paul McCartney, David Byrne of Talking Heads, Paul Simon, and Carly Simon are some other recording artists who have been involved in publishing children’s literature. Somehow hearing that they worked on a book for children is not a surprising as hearing that Keith Richards is working on one.
By Dyanne Weiss