Letters from the Johnny’s pub – Keith Richards

The first chapters of Stars of dust: A gift for you


I have many things, but they are imaginary, except music. Every action of my day is influenced by rock and roll, even painting the walls of a kitchen, then there is beer to soothe the low blows and raise the spirit’s volume up. It’s been a while since Johnny’s pub opened, and I did not think it would rise such feedback. Many have come to visit me, some of them has become regular clients.

Mr. Richards, faithful to the promise of personally restoring the place, leads the works for the painting of the pub. He got up early this morning, showing up dressed in shorts, a tank top and a newspaper hat.

He took his commitment very rigorously. He was already by the shutters, when the Johnny’s boys arrived and he greeted them with a reproach: – We’re starting bad, guys: you’re late.


I act as a buffer between the aversion of my boys and Mr. Richards’ inflexibility.


– Are you sure to know what we’re doing? – I ask him doubtfully.

– Don’t worry, Johnny, I’m used to managing work groups, I have some experience!

– We’re not the Rolling Stones! – Johnny B. Bup screams exasperated!

– Really? – Says Mr. Richards sarcastically. – I hadn’t noticed… – and then a mocking laughter.

– Oh my God: I’m a cook – claims Johnny Stand By – not a house painter…

– A great cook, I have to admit – he replies – but focus on what you’re doing now…

– Can we take a break, Mr. Richards? – Asks Johnny B. Cool.

– A break? It’s not even an hour since we started… – he sentences.

– But…

– Guys, this way is not good. You have to paint vertically, not randomly, you get me?

– We have never painted a wall! – Johnny B. Strong justifies himself.

– I can see it – replies Mr. Richards – and now you’re doing it. Oh, come on, put more energy, you don’t have any rhythm, you’re not working on a Paul McCartney album! – Follow another laugh of mockerys.


The silence of the boys hides a nascent resentment. They whisper to each other, and I think they are angry with me too. Mr. Richards calls me aside: – Hey, Johnny, what’s going on? These guys are really lazy. If I had known, I would have called Charlie, he is a good worker, other than being tough!


He is alluding to Charlie, his drummer. Of course, he knows how to use drum sticks, but the brush? Oh well… anyway, after a couple of hours of work, miraculously the place begins to take form. Undoubtedly, Mr. Richards is a leading man.


– See, guys? All it took was a little effort… now you can take a break.

– Good, Mr. Richards – they say in unison.


They go out to smoke. I stay alone with Mr. Richards.


– You know what, Johnny?

– Tell me…

– I would paint a big red tongue inside the bathrooms…

– Oh no, Mr. Richards…

– What?

– It seems a bit tacky…

– Johnny… you’re disrespecting me this way…

– A tongue in the bathrooms, it seems like a slap in the face of the Stones’ history… I’m saying it for you…

– Let me decide what a slap in the face is… it’s when you contradict me, Johnny. You’re working against me: do you realize it?

– Well, but what will Mr. Jagger think when he comes back and sees the tongue painted on the bathroom?

– Who?

– Mr. Jagger…

– I don’t know him…

It’s hard to fight with a star. Hard and useless. As humble as may be, even disposed to paint the walls of a pub, they get lost in jealousy and old spites. In the end, even if unwillingly, I agreed to paint the legendary red tongue, the glorious symbol of the Rolling Stones, on the walls of the bathrooms.

I look at Mr. Richards that looks at the painting, drinks beer and is deeply moved. It takes little, after all, to touch the heart of an old rolling stone.


I approach Mr. Richards. He smiles and caresses me on the cheek: – You were good, Johnny. Offer my compliments to all the guys.

Oh, it’s been a hard day’s night, and we’ve been working like dogs – I answer without thinking, screwing it up.


He suddenly changes his mood: – Oh, Johnny, after all I did for you… you could at least say you prefer those to me… you ruined my day!

– I’m sorry. It just slipped out, I didn’t mean it… I’m so tired

– I’d better get off! Ugh… such a shitty pub…




  1. Introduction
  2. Pete Townshend
  3. Keith Richards
  4. John Lee Hooker
  5. Janis Joplin
  6. Chuck Berry
  7. Patti Smith
  8. Syd Barret
  9. Debbie Harry
  10. Cheeta
  11. Mick Jagger
  12. Keith Richards, James Brown, John Belushi
  13. Stuart Sutcliffe
  14. Keith Richards 2
  15. Sgt. Pepper