Inside Keith Richards' Surprisingly Nerdy Childhood

Rolling Stones co-founder and guitarist Keith Richards is, for many people, the platonic ideal of what it means to be a rock star. In addition to his musical prowess, and flawless sense of style, he's also well known for his longevity and his seemingly unstoppable ability to keep living the sex, drugs, and rock and rolll lifestyle well past middle age. There's a reason for the saying, per The Independent, "the only two things to survive a nuclear war would be cockroaches and Keith Richards." Since one might think there's nothing about Keith Richards that could possibly shock anyone at this point, it's particularly surprising to learn that he had an extremely nerdy childhood. 

Born in Kent, England in 1943, his mother bought him his first guitar when he was still a child, according to DW, but his young life wasn't all rock and roll. In fact, Richards had two classic hobbies often attributed to a stereotypical Goody Two-Shoes: as reported by the Guardian, he was both a Boy Scout and a choir boy. 

Boy Scouts, Keith Richards style

It turns out that Keith Richards was always Keith Richards, though, and he was far from an angelic choir boy or a straight-laced scout. According to NME, Richards the Boy Scout got in trouble when he smuggled booze along on a camping trip, got in fights, and was eventually expelled "when he tried to knock out 'some dummo recruit.'" 

As a teenager, Richards sang soprano in the choir at Dartford Technical High School for Boys and even performed for Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey, reported DW. His rebellious streak started in earnest, however, while he was still in high school, and ultimately he was expelled for truancy. In the end, of course, not cutting it as a Boy Scout or a choir member didn't matter, as the most important event of his teen years turned out to be meeting future bandmate and creative partner Mick Jagger. Richards told The Guardian that he was impressed with Jagger's knowledge of American music and the fact that Mick sent away to Chicago for records. In turn, Jagger was probably impressed with young Keith's knowledge of and love for Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Chuck Berry. Not so nerdy after all.