Keith Richards and Elvis Presley… Cousins??

by Chris Murray on March 14, 2011

Alfred Wertheimer’s Elvis at 21 exhibition has traveled to the James A. Michener Museum of Art in Doylestown Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia. The exhibition continues through May 15th, 2011. I just read Keith Richards excellent autobiography Life and I enjoyed reading that Keith was originally inspired by Elvis Presley and specifically by his song ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, released during the same time that photographer Alfred Wertheimer was documenting Elvis when he was 21 years old. In his autobiography Keith says “… the first rock and roll I heard was a totally different way of delivering a song, a totally different sound, stripped down, burnt, no bullshit, no violins and ladies’ choruses and schmaltz, totally different. It was bare, right to the roots that you had a feelings were there but hadn’t yet heard. I’ve got to take my hat off to Elvis for that. That’s what Heartbreak Hotel did to me. It was the first time I had heard something so stark. Then I had to go back to what this cat had done before. Luckily I caught his name. The Radio Luxembourg signal came back in. “That was Elvis Presley with ‘Heartbreak Hotel.'” Shit!.” Later on in the book sax player and best friend of Keith, Bobby Keys, talks about Keith and Elvis. “The whole heart and soul of the Rolling Stones is Keith and Charlie. That is where the engine room is. When I heard Keith playing guitar, it reminded me so much of the energy I had heard from Elvis. It was the real deal, you know?”

Keith Richards Life and Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis.

I bet Keith would be interested to know that he just might be a cousin of Elvis Presley. In Peter Guralnick’s masterpiece biography Last Train to Memphis , Guralnick writes in the first chapter about Elvis and his mother Gladys moving to Tupelo; “… where Gladys lived with her cousins Frank and Leona Richards.” Guralnick also mentions Gladys’ cousin Corinne Richards, Frank Richards’ daughter and Elvis’ cousin. We know that the American South was settled by the English, Scotts, and Irish, so maybe Englishman Keith Richards is related to Elvis! Its only Rock & Roll but I like it!

Elvis and the Hound Dog. Copyright © Alfred Wertheimer. All Rights Reserved.

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