The Songs Fans Didn’t Know Keith Richards Wrote

The Songs Fans Didn’t Know Keith Richards Wrote | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Keith Richards - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / Youtube

At the ripe age of 79, Rolling Stones’ legendary guitarist Keith Richards, continues to astound. The British rock luminary always finds ways to make himself known, even after establishing a reputable name as an iconic guitarist.

Yet, beyond his role as the lead guitarist for the Stones, Richards has led a multifaceted musical life. Lesser-known to fans, Richards and frontman Mick Jagger have penned several tracks for other artists. Here, discover four songs likely unbeknownst to fans that bear Richards’ songwriting prowess.

An artistic genius as profound as Richards has even crafted songs in his sleep, and such was the case in one of the Stones’ biggest hits, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

The guitar legend has also written songs for other acts, with the help of Rolling Stones’ frontman and fellow songwriter, Mick Jagger. The following songs bear Richards’ songwriting prowess, likely unbeknownst to fans.

“Blue Turns To Grey” by Tracey Dey (1964)

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

“Blue Turns to Grey,” a timeless ballad, finds its poignant voice through the evocative rendition of Tracey Dey. With her delicate vocals, Dey delivers a haunting performance that captures the essence of heartache and transformation. 

The song’s melancholic lyrics, accompanied by Dey’s soulful delivery, paint a vivid picture of emotions evolving from the vivid hues of blue to the muted shades of grey.

Conceived by Richards and Jagger and released in 1964, “Blue Turns to Grey” captures a universal sentiment of fading love and the bittersweet process of moving on. Dey’s interpretation adds a layer of depth to the song’s narrative, her voice imbued with both vulnerability and resilience. Through her rendition, she lends a new dimension to the track, offering listeners a chance to connect with the complex emotions it portrays.

Later that same year, The Rolling Stones unveiled their own rendition of the song on the album “December’s Children (And Everybody’s).” Notably, Dey’s version credited Richards and the Stones’ former manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, as the songwriters.

“Tanqueray” by Johnnie Johnson (1991)

Written by Keith Richards and Johnnie Johnson

“Tanqueray,” a vibrant musical composition, finds its rhythm through the skillful hands of Johnnie Johnson. With his masterful piano playing, Johnson brings this lively track to life, infusing it with energy and groove. The song’s spirited melody, combined with Johnson’s dexterity on the keys, creates an irresistible blend of sound that captures the essence of a joyful musical experience.

Kicking off the audacious 1991 LP Johnnie B. Bad, this track emerges as the opener from an album that also boasts contributions from Eric Clapton and Bernie Worrell, in addition to Richards. 

Serving as a co-producer, Richards played a pivotal role in shaping the album’s direction. The upbeat tempo and catchy hooks make it a track that’s hard to resist tapping your foot to. 

Notably, the album marks a significant milestone for Johnson, as it features his vocal performance on a record for the first time. Collaborating with Richards, their joint effort “Tanqueray” ushers in this piano-driven, blues-infused anthem, steeped in the spirits of revelry and reflection.

Johnson’s interpretation of “Tanqueray” encapsulates the spirit of his musical style, characterized by his signature piano skills and a knack for creating infectious rhythms.

“Act Together” by Ronnie Wood (1974)

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Richards also helped his long-time friend and future bandmate Ronnie Wood in the latter’s first LP, which was playfully titled I’ve Got My Own Album to Do. The song carries Wood’s signature style, infused with his distinctive guitar work and soulful vocals. 

The album earned its name from a humorous situation: fellow musicians, including former Beatles guitarist George Harrison, playfully reminded Wood that they too had their own musical endeavors to attend to.

“Act Together”, another composition penned by Jagger and Richards, stands out as a slower-paced piece, enriched by the presence of an organ, and it provides a platform for Wood’s knack for blending rock, blues, and a touch of folk sensibility. 

The track’s emotive storytelling and melodic arrangement create a compelling narrative that draws listeners in and resonates on a personal level.

“Wastin’ Time” by Jimmy Tarbuck (1965)

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Another song written with Jagger, “Wastin’ Time,” was recorded by English entertainer Jimmy Tarbuck in 1965. Released as part of his first single, along with the track, “Someday”, “Wastin’ Time” is a two-and-a-half-minute guitar and piano-driven blues-rock offering.

The compelling piece captures Tarbuck’s distinctive voice and style and an eerie depth that early songs from the Rolling Stones show off. 

Ten years after Tarbuck unleashed the song, the Stones would record their own version in the 1975 album Metamorphosis, a compilation of outtakes and alternate versions of their well-known songs from 1964-1970.

Changed for some reason into “We’re Wastin’ Time”, the track would be omitted from the album’s US version along with “Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind”.