5 Keith Richards Collaborations You Might Not Know About

Keith Richards has an incredible body of work that goes far beyond The Rolling Stones’ substantial discography. Even putting aside the solo work he has done with his backing band, X-Pensive Winos, Richards has kept busy as a studio musician, songwriter, and producer. Below are five of his most notable collaborations—outside of those with the Stones and X-Pensive Winos—he has undertaken over the decades of his storied career.

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1. Tom Waits

Richards first collaborated with Waits on his 1985 album, Rain Dogs, playing guitar on three tracks and providing backing vocals on “Blind Love.” Subsequently, Richards appeared on two more Waits albums, Bone Machine (1992) and Bad as Me (2011). On the former album, Richards co-wrote “That Feel” with Waits, which marked the first time the American singer/songwriter had shared writing credits with someone other than his wife, Kathleen Brennan. Richards also lends guitar and backing vocals to that track.

2. Aretha Franklin

Franklin recorded a version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” for the 1986 film of the same. Richards produced the track and played lead guitar. The video for the song features Richards in both roles—producer in the control room and guitarist on stage with Franklin. Ron Wood also played guitar on Franklin’s cover of the song, though he did not become a member of the Stones until seven years after they released the original single. Steve Jordan played on the cover as well; he would replace the late Charlie Watts in 2021 and provided drums on the 2023 release Hackney Diamonds.

3. Wingless Angels

Richards was integral to the creation of Wingless Angels, a collective of Jamaican reggae musicians. He bought a home in Ocho Rios subsequent to The Rolling Stones recording parts of Goat’s Head Soup in Kingston, and one evening, he had the group over to his place. Richards recorded the proceedings, which ultimately became Wingless Angels’ self-titled debut album. He produced the record and released it on his own Mindless Records label. Richards also added guitar and keyboard overdubs, but his presence on the album is not obvious. Wingless Angels’ sound is primarily a hypnotic blend of drums and group vocals, with Jamaican ska legend Justin Hinds providing lead vocals.

4. The New Barbarians

Richards joined The New Barbarians, a supergroup Wood created to play a series of shows, mostly in North America, in 1979 and 1980. The band’s other members were Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever), Ian McLagan (Faces), Bobby Keyes (touring and session saxophone player, including for The Rolling Stones) and Ziggy Modeliste (The Meters). The New Barbarians opened a pair of dates for the Stones and also headlined several shows; their set included a handful of Rolling Stones numbers plus a healthy portion of material from Wood’s solo albums.

[RELATED: 5 Legendary Keith Richards Live Performances]

5. The Dirty Mac

This short-lived supergroup had an even briefer lifespan than The New Barbarians. John Lennon created The Dirty Mac for the sole purpose of performing on a BBC television special called The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. In addition to Lennon and Richards (who played bass), the group included Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell, and featured Yoko Ono and violinist Ivry Gitlis on one improvisational piece, “Whole Lotta Yoko.” The show, which also included performances from The Rolling Stones, The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull, was recorded in December 1968, but it never aired on the BBC. In addition to “Whole Lotta Yoko,” The Dirty Mac performed a version of The Beatles’ “Yer Blues.” The program was finally released in 1996 when it premiered at the New York Film Festival.

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for God’s Love We Deliver

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