Guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire Keith Richards should have died a long time ago. He was a heroin addict for many years, which earned him the number one spot for ten years on New Musical Express’ list of rock stars most likely to die. He was also an aficionado of Merck cocaine—the pharmaceutical kind, a pure luxury compared to the street powder. In his autobiography Life, Richards confesses that the Rolling Stones’ 1975 tour was “fueled by Merck cocaine. It was when we initiated the building of hideaways behind the speakers on the stage so that we could have lines between songs.”
As Richards lets his supplier describe it (because the rocker’s memory is dim in that passage):
Funny, another celebrity rhapsodized very much the same way about pharmaceutical cocaine; no, not Eric Clapton. He worked in another industry, and in much earlier times. In 1884, Sigmund Freud wrote Uber Coca. This is what he said:
The name Merck cocaine has stuck, ever since Merck of Germany became a major supplier of the stuff starting in the early 1800s, according to Steven Karch’s A Brief History of Cocaine. (Its American subsidiary split off after World War I). In the U.S., Parke-Davis—now part of Pfizer was the dominant player. Karch says that both Merck and Parke-Davis paid Freud to test cocaine, and endorse their product. He obviously came through.
When not consumed by artists, pharmaceutical cocaine is typically used as a local anesthetic, especially by ear, nose, and throat doctors.
PS: Keith Richards just turned 67 on December 18. New Musical Express was so wrong.
Dec. 24 2010 - 10:58 am
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