December 1999: The Night Keith Richards Stole a Fan's Guitar

 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards perform with The Rolling Stones in concert at Arco Arena on January 27, 1999 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/FilmMagic)
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(Rocky Widner/FilmMagic)

The night before the Rolling Stones legend turned 56 years old back in December 1999, Keith Richards was feted with a birthday party at New York City's Russian Tea Room. The band had wrapped up the "No Security" tour earlier in the year, and Richards had been singled out by GQ as one of the publication's "Men of the Year." It had been a very strong 12 months for the guitarist, and he was ready to celebrate.

On the way out of the club, according to the NY Daily News, a fan approached a visibly intoxicatte Richards with a Fender Telecaster, hoping to get the Rolling Stone's signature on his axe. Instead of signing it, however, Richards held onto it as he got into his limo and drove away.

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"He tore down W. 56th St. and I ran after him," the fan told the newspaper. "Finally, I stopped at a light and knocked on the window and yelled, 'Please give me my guitar back!' Keith was laughing. The driver told me to go f--- myself and buy a new guitar, and drove off again. I was on foot so there wasn't much I could do."

While some fans would have gone after Richards legally in hopes of having his guitar returned, this particular Stones follower simply let it bleed. Why? As he told the NY Daily News, "It's Keith, man."

"Keith is generally extremely sweet about signing things for fans," his publicist at the time told the paper when reached for comment on the incident. "But I gather there are people who try to get his signature on guitars they sell. They're not real Rolling Stones fans."

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