Keith Richards Guitar Collection

They say old men forget and — whisper it gently — at 68, Keith Richards can no longer be deemed young. So as the veteran Rolling Stone gears up for his last-ever tour, you can only feel sympathy for the old devil when he says he can’t remember his songs any more.

This week the Dartford-born rocker confessed: ‘[These days] when you kick off a song you say “I can’t remember how the middle bit goes”, but the fingers are able to perform all the correct chords on their own.’

This rare admission of frailty shields, however, a greater concern among friends and associates of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest ‘riffmeister’ — that the days of Keith’s scorching guitar solos are gone for ever.

The Rolling Stones this year celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first gig. While there have been books and exhibitions and celebrations aplenty, there has been no manifestation of their core activity — making music.

Statements have been issued and retracted about the so-called 50th anniversary tour, plans have been made and abandoned.

Mick Jagger says there’ll be a tour — next year. Keith says the band is rehearsing. The organisers of Glastonbury Festival believe they’ve secured the Stones to play their swansong concert there next summer.

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