Oct 23, 2008

Keith Richards Toronto Drug Bust 30 Years Later

In February 1977 Keith Richards was busted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for possession of 22 grams of heroin at Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto Canada.

According to Keith it took the law two hours to wake him up out of a stoned stupor. He was originally charged with "possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking". Richards had his passport confiscated, he & his girl friend Anita Pallenberg along with their three children were forced to stay in Canada until April. In April he was allowed to leave on a medical visa to begin rehab for heroin addiction.
For over a year the threat of jail time hung over Keith's head. The scare really held him clean up and he focused on his work. The Stones recorded one of their biggest albums and best works in years, "Some Girls" and they did a North American Tour.

In March of 1977 looking for an private venue to record in, The Rolling Stones played the first of two performances at the famous El Mocambo club in Toronto, billing themselves as "The Cockroaches". It was their first live club date in 14 years. Their opening act was local Canadian rockers April Wine.

The show was recorded and released as side 3 on the album Love You Live, which reached #5 in the US. This was also the scene of political controversy when Prime Minister Trudeau's wife Margret Trudeau went to the shows and was scene partying with the Stones after the show.

Richards went to trial in October 1978 in Toronto to a media circus where fans gathered around the court house with signs & shouting "Free Keith".

Inside the court was filled to the rafters with Stones fans in support of Keith. Keith plead guilty to possession of heroin.

Then there was who Keith himself called his "Blind Angel". This blind girl would show up at alot of Stones concerts in Canada & Keith would make arrangements for her to be taken care of at the shows. He was sympathetic to her blindness & didn't want to see her get hurt. She personally went to the Judges house and told him the story of what Keith had done for her.

The Judge had compassion. He stated that addicts should be imprisoned when they commit crimes to maintain their habits & make no attempt to kick the habit. Since Richards had his own money to support his habit & put himself into rehab no jail time would be sentenced.

He was given a suspended sentence and put on probation for one year, with orders to continue treatment and to perform a benefit concert on behalf of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Richards performed two CNIB benefit concerts at Oshawa Civic Auditorium on 22 April 1979; both shows featured The Rolling Stones and Ronnie Wood & Keith's solo project The New Barbarians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at this concert. Jim Belushi was the MC