Their collaboration began in the mid-1980s after both artists had already made significant marks on the music world—Richards with the legendary Rolling Stones and Waits as a pioneer within the singer-songwriter realm of the 1970s.
Their first collaboration came with Waits’ 1985 album “Rain Dogs”, a project for which Waits felt Richards had a unique understanding. Waits appreciated Richards’ spontaneity and vibrant spirit in the studio, qualities that led to Keith Richards contributing to tracks like ‘Blind Love’, ‘Union Square’, and ‘Big Black Mariah’.
The partnership was further solidified when Waits provided backing vocals for The Rolling Stones’ 1986 album “Dirty Work”, demonstrating the mutual respect and camaraderie between the two.
The collaboration didn’t stop there; it continued with ‘That Feel’, a co-written duet on Waits’ 1992 album “Bone Machine”, and saw Richards contributing to four tracks on Waits’ 2011 album “Bad As Me”.
Their connection wasn’t just professional but deeply personal, with both artists expressing admiration for each other’s musicality and character. Richards once described Waits as “a real rhythm man,” while Waits likened Richards to a resilient frying pan, highlighting his durability and adaptability in the musical landscape.
Interestingly, their initial collaboration on “Rain Dogs” started from a joke by Waits, suggesting Richards’ involvement without expecting it to become a reality.
Yet, Richards’ actual participation in the album marked the beginning of a fruitful and enduring musical friendship. Waits has praised Richards for his attention to detail and his deep understanding of music’s nuances, comparing him to an archaeologist in his pursuit of musical knowledge.
Their collaboration is more than just a series of studio sessions; it’s a reflection of their shared passion for music and exploration, creating a unique synergy that has contributed to some memorable moments in music history.