There’s as many myths and legends as there are cultures in the world, so the fact Issue 142, “Myths and Legends,” is so topically diverse shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does.
If you’re a fan of the Editor’s Note here at The Escapist, you know we like to toss in a short anecdote at least tangentially related to what the authors in the issue talk about. But in this issue, we’re all over the place. For instance, Colin Rowsell takes a look at game journalism in his delightfully eccentric way. Our own Jordan Deam introduces us to the legend of K4rn4ge. Michael Cook takes us back to gaming’s adolescence, back when the rainmakers in the field were at their peak. Brenda Brathwaite talks to luminaries in the industry to get to the root of the animosity the mainstream has toward videogames. And Russ Pitts brings us his testimony on the good Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So what am I to do? How do I tie this all together?
I figure I may as well share a legend of my own. You probably know him; obscurity has never been his strong suit. But in a way, he’s a legend for everyone. I’m referring to Mr. Keith Richards.
Richards was born in Dartford, Kent, England, in 1943. His mother was the musical one in his immediate family, and she introduced him to the blues when he was young. But his early life isn’t really the focus of this story; his legend begins in 1962, when he and Mick Jagger came together to form the Rolling Stones. The band is a legend itself – it’s spanned five decades and is better than all the bands made after 2000 combined – but Richards exists in some way above the Stones, and his larger-than-life personality is the engine that keeps them going.
Musically, The Rolling Stones were one of the first bands to challenge the crooner/pop music establishment, and their early television performances were as awkwardly received as Elvis’.
Richards is perhaps the last living legend of the Baby Boomers. Richards and, to an extent, Jagger were revolutionary super-anti-heroes in the ’60s and ’70s. For instance, Richards had a year-long jail stint for marijuana possession overturned for lack of evidence after a vast media outcry, despite the fact he was arrested in his own house during a drug bust. Later, in 1977, Richards was charged with drug trafficking in Canada when he was found in possession of 22 grams of heroin – the charge was later reduced to possession alone when everyone realized that’s just how much junk the guy did back then.
His legend hasn’t stopped growing. During an interview, he put a cigarette out on his fingertip without a grimace, then said to the reporter: “Do you know why I can do that? Because I’m Keith Richards.” He’s famous for being the least comprehensible interview ever. And just one year ago, he ate a cigarette on stage in protest of the smoking ban in the U.K.
Somehow, Richards has outlived the Baby Boomer movement but has managed to still represent what it once stood for. He’s a living relic of a time period that could’ve changed everything but instead changed music, and while he remains an activist in his own way, the Stones have gone from a dangerous cultural rebellion to an institution of the Western World. And in that case, maybe Richards has outlived the Rolling Stones, too.