Year
1967
Month Day
June 29

The Rolling Stones fight the law, and the law wins

On June 29, 1967, Keith Richards sat before magistrates in Chichester, West Sussex, England, facing charges that stemmed from the infamous raid of Richards’ Redlands estate five months earlier. Though the raid netted very little in the way of actual drugs, what it did net was a great deal of notoriety for the already notorious Rolling Stones. It was during this raid that the police famously encountered a young Marianne Faithfull clad only in a bearskin rug, a fact that the prosecutor in the case seemed to regard as highly relevant to the case at hand. In questioning Richards, Queen’s Counsel Malcolm Morris tried to imply that Faithfull’s nudity was probably the result of a loss of inhibition due to cannabis use:

QC Morris: "Would you agree in the ordinary course of events you would expect a young woman to be embarrassed if she had nothing on but a rug in the presence of eight men, two of whom were hangers-on and the third a Moroccan servant?"

Richards: "Not at all."

Morris: "You regard that, do you, as quite normal?"

Richards: “We are not old men. We are not worried about petty morals.”

With that one line, Richards emphatically established himself as the spokesman for a generation that did not share the values of the British establishment. The charges brought against him by that establishment, however, were quite serious. While Mick Jagger stood charged with illegal possession of four amphetamine tablets he’d purchased in Italy, Richards faced the far more serious charge of allowing his house to be used for the purpose of smoking what the law at the time referred to as “Indian hemp.”

Judging from his defiant attitude on the stand, Richards may not have taken the possibility of conviction very seriously. No marijuana had actually been found in Richards’ possession, but on the evidence presented at trial of a “sweet incense smell” detected by police, Richards was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison. Jagger was also convicted and sentenced to three months, but he was immediately released pending an appeal. 

Richards, on the other hand, was sent directly to Wormwood Scrubs prison on this day in 1969, where he was greeted like, well, a rock star by his fellow inmates. Richards would spend only one night in prison, though, as he was granted bail the following day, also pending appeal. His conviction would later be overturned based on the prejudicial nature of the evidence of the naked young woman in a bearskin rug. For his part, Richards was definitively pleased: “I like a little more room, I like the john to be in a separate area,” he later said, “and I hate to be woken up.”

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