Keith Richards debuted the new documentary based on his life, Under The Influence, at the Toronto Film Festival last night and it had more to do with music than drugs as revealed in an interview he gave after the screening. The new film, directed by Morgan Neville, director of 20 Feet From Stardom, accurately chronicles a love for jazz and the blues that spans more than 50 years, in one scene the star of the featured documentary even does a drive-by of Muddy Water's house, saying to the cameraman "His house was a lot more vibrant, it was rocking when I got here, I remember that."
Richards and Neville made a personal appearance at the festival this past Thursday (Sept. 17) and gave an on-stage interview to excited onlookers with TIFF's documentary programmer Thom Powers. Neville is no stranger to documenting rock-stars and some of his past subjects include Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Muddy Waters amongst others.
"Wow, this is exciting," Neville said prior to the question and answer session, "We've never screened this film for anybody yet. I've not seen it with an audience. I've not seen it on a large screen, so we figured we'd have a few people over, screen it tonight and see what you think."
During the interview, Richards explained how both the documentary and film played off of one another and how that effected him personally as well as professionally.
"I was on the cusp of 'Maybe this is an album coming up,' which means I've got a lot more work. I wasn't sure that I was cut out for it. But with Morgan's influence, coming in at the time, the two things suddenly came together in a way. I keep using this word 'organic,' which is sometimes a little off-putting to me because I do a lot of un-organic things," he said to the jovial crowd "I think it's the right word for what we're talking about."
In the very beginning of the trailer, Richard's jokes, "I know who I am, but I realize that people think that Keith Richards is smoking a joint, bottle in his hand cursing the fact that the liquor store is closed." But as the documentary shows, the real Keith Richards largely grew up on American folk music and jazz despite the fact that his public image may have paved the way for future rock stars over decades to come.
Under the Influence coincides with the release of his third solo album (and the first since 1992), Crosseyed Heart, which draws influences from the likes of Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and Hank Williams. The documentary is now available to stream on Netflix.