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View full screen - View 1 of Lot 124. [Richards, Keith] | The official trial transcript of Keith Richards' infamous 1978 heroin bust.

[Richards, Keith] | The official trial transcript of Keith Richards' infamous 1978 heroin bust

Lot Closed

January 25, 09:01 PM GMT


5,000 - 7,000 USD

Lot Details


[Richards, Keith]

Original Trial Transcript, Her Majesty the Queen, and Keith Richards. Toronto, Ontario: New Court House, 23-24 October, 1978

[ii], 93 pp., printed single-sided (280 x 215 mm). Spiral bound, red paper wrappers, printed paper label "Her Majesty the Queen - and - Keith Richard" to cover. Signed and certified on page 93 by the official court reporter. A bit of handling wear, soiling, and light creasing. Accompanied by a photograph of Keith Richards with the court reporter. 

"Free Keith!" — an infamous drug bust threatens to derail the Stones at the peak of their success

On February 27th, 1977, while The Rolling Stones were in Toronto for a recording session for their Love You Live album at the Mocambo Club, Canadian police raided Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg's hotel room and found roughly an ounce of heroin and five grams of cocaine. The quantity was such that the musician was charged with intent to traffic, the penalty for which in Canada ranges from seven years, to life in prison. 

The present trial transcript is the court stenographer's own copy of the pivotal legal proceeding that followed this arrest. It offers revealing details about Keith Richards' life with the band at the peak of their success, his notoriously rapacious appetite for drugs, his efforts to get sober following the arrest, and his trial defense, which included testimony from SNL producer Lorne Michaels (who describes their 1978 performance on SNL in great detail), and journalist Jack Hubert Batten.

In the months that elapsed between his arrest and the trial date, Richards got sober and pursued an intensive regime of psychiatric treatment (detailed here in reproductions of testimonials submitted by his doctors). When he appeared in court before Judge Lloyd Graburn on 23 October 1978, his newfound sobriety was central to his defense. His attorney contextualized his ongoing struggles with addiction in the context of his creativity, arguing that he found himself in this "terrible predicament" because he was "racked with severe emotional pain." Expanding on this further, he mused: "one often wonders whether its not his oversensitivity to life and to people and to his environment that allows him to see and express in music and writing what most of us are not gifted enough to see ... I suggest to your Honour from the evidence that you've heard that Keith Richard [sic] is a man who, by the pressures of his emotional makeup and the cauldron of the work schedule and into which he's thrown and the pressures of international acclaim, has become so racked that he turned to heroin to help him." 

In handing down the sentence, Judge Graburn agreed, deeming: "No incarceration or fine would be appropriate because of Mr. Richards’ continuing treatment for drug addiction and his long-term benefit to the community." As cheers erupted in the courtroom, Richards was given a one-year suspended sentence, one years' probation, and was ordered to give a special performance at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. There was some speculation that the court's leniency amounted to preferential treatment, but Prosecutor Paul Kennedy, didn't seem to object: "If you get a member of the Rolling Stones off heroin" he said, "you've done some good."

Keith Richards finally managed to get the monkey off his back following his dust-up with the Mounties, going on to tour with the Stones through some of their most successful and frenzied periods, through to today. 


Keith Richards, James Fox. Life. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2010 


Official Court Reporter — thence by descent