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In 1964, Linda Keith was a glamorous seventeen-year-old brunette from West Hampstead, England. Working as an assistant on Vogue magazine, she was just about to start a modelling career. Dark-eyed, hip and as thin as a cigarette, Linda was in exile from her well-heeled Jewish family and in search of the bright lights, In particluar, she was passionate about both music and musicians. Linda`s best friend was Sheila Klein, then-girlfriend of Stones` manager Andrew Loog-Oldham. Oldham insists that she was Keith`s first girlfriend, and that he`d played matchmaker because, at nineteen, "I thought it was time that Keith went out with something other than his guitar." But it was this quality that endeared the reticent rock `n` roller to Linda. Many years after their relationship had played out, she`d look back on him as "shy, introverted, very appealing, lacking in confidence," explaining, "I liked the fact that he was so involved with music, that it was such a prevailing part of his and my life."
One Summer day in 1964, Linda was driving back from the Summer Solstice festival at Stonehenge, and had been caught in a car crash and thrown through the windshield. Lying in the hospital ward, all mirrors banned so as not to distress her with the sight of her facial cuts and bruises, Linda was visited by Keith. "He leant down and kissed me on my face, and -- at that moment I will never forget -- showed me that I wasn`t a monster, and I wasn`t revolting. And that was Keith."
The relationship began to sour for the couple in the Spring of 1966, after Keith purchased his home, Redlands. "It was a very big turn-on," said Linda about Redlands, "but it was pretty near the end of our relationship and I don`t have good memories of having good times at Relands." Despite Keith`s hopes for their future together, drugs were coming between them. Not that Keith had any problem himself, not yet being the mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know `Keef` of legend. It was Linda who led the way -- at first, she smoked more grass than him (when she gave him some particularly powerful stuff she claims it made him throw up!) and was the first to experiment with acid. Keith had gradually learned to enjoy a reefer, and had conducted the first of his notorious five-days-awake binges while on tour. Hard drugs were creeping in, as he replaced the edginess of amphetamine with the smoother, more potent, shorter-lived buzz of cocaine. But he hadn`t touched heroin, and expressed no interest in it. For Linda, though, the brakes were off. She was diving into smack, and a photograph of her OD`d on downers had recently made the press. Whatever Keith`s later lifestyle, back then it was nothing but a cause of concern to him. "He wasn`t happy with the stoned Linda and it all got a bit awkward," Linda later explained, understatedly.
Written by Keith and Brian Jones in January 1967, "Ruby Tuesday" was Keith`s swansong to Linda Keith. "It was probably written about Linda Keith not being there," Keith told MOJO magazine in 2003. "I dunno, she had pissed off somewhere. It was very mournful, very, very Ruby Tuesday, and it was a Tuesday." Linda was now one of Jimi Hendrix`s more high-profile girlfriends. She was also a major catalyst to Jimi`s career, after watching one of Jimi`s shows in Manhattan, New York on June 23, 1966, she brought him back to England, where he was a smashing success. She even gave Jimi one of Keith`s guitars with left-handed strings. But, Keith bore Hendrix no animosity. "I think he`s a nice cat actually," he told friends. But he`d called Linda`s parents up to tell them their daughter was strung out and wasted in New York. It resulted in them making her a ward of court, and in compulsory psychiatric treatment. Keith and Linda would never speak again -- though she seems to have mellowed toward him in later years, and, as her friend Sheila Oldham (nee Klein) says, "it was a caring thing for Keith to do. It probably saved her life, actually." Today, Linda is happily married to music producer John Porter.
The above text © Keith Richards: Before They Make Me Run by Kris Needs