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Keith Richards, children's book author? He's surprised too

Keith Richards, children's book author? He's surprised too
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has written "Gus & Me," about his grandfather and his first guitar, with illustrations by Keith's daughter Theodora. (Little, Brown & Co.)

If you're remotely taken aback at the juxtaposition of the phrases "children's book author" and "Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards," you'll have to get in line.

It's a line that starts with Richards himself.

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"It was the publisher's idea," Richards told Pop & Hiss, speaking by phone from his home in Connecticut. "While I was working on 'Life'," he said, referring to his lauded 2010 autobiography, "they said, 'We think this chapter about your grandfather could make a really nice kids' book.' I said, 'Are you kidding me?'"

The result is being published today as "Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar" (MT Books/Little, Brown & Co., $18). It tells the tale of Richards' relationship with his grandfather, Theodore Augustus Dupree, a musician who had seven daughters, and one male grandchild with whom he developed a special bond.

"I think he was relieved when I came along and he finally had someone to do guy stuff with," Richards, 70, said with that signature hearty and lascivious laugh that often punctuates his comments.

The bond that's the heart of the book extends to the process of translating the story to the printed page. When the publisher noted that they would need to hire an illustrator, the Stones' guitarist's response was, "Let's keep it in the family. My daughter is a pretty good artist."

So they turned to Theodora Richards, one of two children from his 30-year marriage to Patti Hansen, and the daughter who was named after the book's title character.

"This is the first time I've ever gotten to do a project like this with him," Theodora, 29, said in a separate interview from her home in Manhattan. "It was so surreal to sit next to daddy and go through the old family pictures we used to help with the illustrations. He was really supportive of all my drawings and really encouraged me to use my imagination."

More to come on the story behind "Gus & Me" in Calendar later this week.

Follow @RandyLewis2 on Twitter for pop music coverage

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