To some people. Keith Richards is the world’s greatest guitarist. To others, he’s a medical marvel (how one man can survive decades of prolific drug use and a coconut cracking his head open is a question doctors are still working out). But to realtors, he’s just one thing. A flaming liability. Although he’s a bit hazy on the exact number, Richards estimates he’s sent between 3 to 4 houses up in flames. And that doesn’t include almost razing the original Playboy Mansion in Chicago to the ground when he and saxophonist Bobby Keys got too inebriated to remember to stub out their cigarettes. “We managed to set a bathroom on fire in the Playboy Mansion. We didn’t notice the curtains had caught fire while we were sitting around on the john smoking,” Richards later reminisced in his autobiography Life, “And at a certain point… talk about hazy, or foggy, Bobby says, ‘It’s smoky in here.’ And I’m looking at Bobby and can’t see him. And the drapes are smoldering away; everything was just about to go off big-time… There was a thumping on the door, waiters and guys in black suits bringing buckets of water. They get the door open and we’re sitting on the floor, our pupils very pinned. I said, ‘We could have done that ourselves. How dare you burst in on our private affair?’ “
The Laurel Canyon Incident
But the Playboy incident was by no means the worst fire Richards would ever have a hand in. In the early 1970s, he cemented his status as the world’s most famous firestarter when he burnt down a rental property in Laurel Canyon. At the time, Laurel Canyon was the center of LA’s music scene, playing home to everyone from Joni Mitchell to Frank Zappa; Jim Morrison to Carole King. Various members of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Canned Heat, and the Mamas and Papas also owned or rented houses in the neighborhood. And for a brief time at least, so did Keith Richards. As The LA Times reports, the property in question was owned by music manager Skip Taylor. When Taylor left town, he rented the place to Richards. All went well for a while, but then Richards decided to throw a party. “There was a big party one night and somebody had turned the gas fire off — but not all the way,” he says in “Keith Richards: The Unauthorized Biography” by Victor Bockris. Unfortunately, someone had also left an incense stick burning. The combination of the two resulted in an explosion that saw Richards barely escape with his life. The house was a write-off, and remained as such until it was rebuilt in the early 1980s. The only thing that remains of Richard’s former home these days is a circular staircase that leads to the small basement.
Since the house was rebuilt, it’s undergone several rounds of renovations. Originally build in the 1930s, it today doffs a cap to its history while keeping things delightfully 21st century with its contemporary, relaxed vibe. Set over a half-acre of land and accessed via a small drawbridge over a babbling creek, the 4,000-square-foot house is set back far enough from the road (and surrounded by enough mature trees) to offer its occupants plenty of privacy. Inside, you’ll find 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a family room, a pub (a little homage to its most legendary former occupant, we like to think). a library, and not even the faintest whiff of burning embers. Take a tour of the outside and you’ll run across a south-facing lavender garden, a swimming pool with spa, a pergola, and even an outside kitchen. Decorated throughout in a very contemporary grey and white color pallet and featuring such standout features as ceiling beams and custom Calcutta marble countertops, it’s a gorgeous house that manages to combine formal elegance with just the right degree of rock and roll modernism.
A Closer Look
In 2015, we got a closer look at the house when it hit the property listings. With a price of a $3.695 million, we expected a lot. We got it. As Home Stratosphere (homestratosphere.com/keith-richards-house-in-laurel-canyon-ca-listed-for-3-695-million/) illustrated at the time, the new occupants could expect a host of stunning features, not to mention a whole heap of rooms…
The Living Room
During the renovations of the house, the living room clearly received first class treatment. Styled in a formal but comfortable fashion, it features arching ceilings and a statement central light fixture, along with leaded glass windows and French doors that offer gorgeous views over the gardens. Completing the air of elegant coziness is a corner fireplace with white marble surrounds and a very sumptuous looking beige sofa.
Like the living room, the dining room is a classic combination of classical and contemporary. Stretched across its length is a long white dining table accompanied by 8 white cushioned chairs and overhung by a wrought iron lighting feature. A huge plant dominates one corner of the room, while the calm white color scheme keeps things sleek and stylish.
Light, bright, and airy, the all-white kitchen combines a gorgeous aesthetic with some very functional pieces. The huge double oven at the center of the room is finished in a durable stainless steel (as are the rest of the appliances), while no one could complain about the extensive amount of storage offered by the fitted cabinetry. A wine refrigerator, breakfast bar, walk-in pantry and marble countertops complete the list of appealing features.
Although the property offers 4 bedrooms in total, we were only offered a glimpse at the master bedroom when the house hit the property listings back in 2015. Although going by what we saw of the room (and assuming its reflective of the rest of them), the new owner is in for a treat come bedtime. Centre stage is given to a large bed that’s obviously been deemed important enough to demand its own alcove. A sitting area and a cozy looking reading nook by the window offer plenty of places to kick back and relax, while the soaring beamed ceiling adds a splash of grandeur. Like the rest of the house, the color scheme is simple and refined, with the white walls and pristine bed linen perfectly offset by soft grey accessories.
Stepping out of the house is just as much a treat for the eyes as stepping into it. The large backyard pool area with its own spa and seating area looks the perfect place for a party… although probably not the kind Keith Richards would be invited to, at least not without removing the matches first.