When I was growing up during the 60s, that’s to say when I was growing to rely heavily on music as a life support system, the word ‘grandfather’ was only spoken in the same breath as ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ in a pejorative sense. Aimed at male members of the older generation who thought the Mike Sammes Singers were hip.
Back then I couldn’t imagine myself as a father, much less a grandfather. Although rock star seemed a distinct possibility. At least it did in the mirror. And as for the heroes of the day, well, do me a favour, didn’t you hear the man? “Hope I die before I get old.”
Like dreams, catchy song lyrics don’t always deliver, so many of the ‘names’ managed to foil Daltrey’s frustration-filled wish. He, along with others who have had gerontologists scratching their heads survive, still. The drugs and the Rock ‘n’ Roll were powerful factors, but sex was always going to win the day. Our libertine luminaries have become grandparent rockers.
My favourite among them is Keith (Keef) Richards. The man who has defied medical science to edge beyond his three score and ten. I recently watched him in Julien Temple's documentary, 'Keith Richards - The Origin of the Species', giving an entertaining account of growing up in post-war Dartford. And what struck me most of all was the touching tribute he paid to his grandfather, Gus. He’s even written a children’s book, dedicated to Gus. A permanent ‘thank you’ to a grandfather who made such a profound impression.
Those affectionate recollections of Richards’ relationship with his grandfather resonated. My relationship with my own maternal grandfather is well documented throughout this blog.
Seems Keef and I share some things in common. We both love our rock ‘n’ roll, we’re both a little anti-establishment, and we both revel in our grandfather roles. I’ll let the man himself have the final word:
"At first I was a bit wary and then I thought for moment... I suddenly thought about grandfathers and the relationship between grandchildren and grandfathers and what great thing it can be if it can happen."