How The Rolling Stones Almost Burnt Down The Original Playboy Mansion

The sentence "the Rolling Stones almost burned down the Playboy Mansion" is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Break it down into its component pieces and there's plenty to chew on — there's the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest and most successful rock bands in history. There's the Playboy Mansion, a den of high-end debauchery at least as famous as it is infamous. There's even the promise of a fire, which is exciting in its own right. But when you put it all together, there's nothing inherently shocking about the idea that Keith Richards et al. nearly turned Hugh Hefner's crash pad into a pile of cinders. It's a fact that feels right, like putting on a pair of shoes that are just the right size.

But do you know what's shocking? To the point of truly taking the average spectator off guard? Like, clutch-your-pearls, collapse-backwards-in-astonishment, breathtakingly unforeseeable?

There may have been drugs involved.

Keith forgot to shut off the gas, gas, gas

Keith Richards has told the story a couple of times over the years, and much like the acclaimed rock god's state of lucidity, it's varied significantly depending on who he was in the room with at the time.

The tamer version, recounted appropriately enough for NPR, is simple enough: "We managed to set a bathroom on fire in the Playboy Mansion. We didn't notice the curtains had caught fire while we were sitting around on the john smoking," Richards more or less said — direct quotes are more art than science with the Stones guitarist.

The slightly less tote bag-safe version was told to the Irish Times in 2016. Of the night in question, Richards stated "There's all these bunnies all over the place – don't throw that lot in front of the Stones, you know. We had a tour doctor we used to love to raid. We'd get him stoned and take his bag. Bobby (Keyes) and I stashed ourselves in this john and were trying everything from the doctor's bag. Somewhere a fire started. There's bells ringing and people running down the corridor. As we left the bathroom, it burst into flames."

It's only rock and roll, but it's hard not to like it.