Keith Richards' great mate Alan Clayton back for return gig in Chichester

Keith Richards' great mate Alan Clayton is looking forward to a return gig with his band The Dirty Strangers at Chichester's Chichester Inn on Saturday, April 1.

Keith and Alan
Keith and Alan

It’s an area he knows well through his long-standing friendship with Keith, says Alan who has fond memories of their first Chichester Inn gig last summer.

Since then, the band has had a re-release for their new album, Crime and A Woman.

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“It came out and had a bit of a stuttery start. We recorded the album on a record label that fell apart.

“They had just released it when the company folded. We had to step a bit back and re-release. It came out again last October, and it has gone really well.

“If you ask someone what their favourite album is, it’s like asking which their favourite child is! But I suppose with albums, you will always say that it is the last one.

“But unlike a lot of albums where bands maybe do one or two songs in their set, we have been doing the main set as the new album. People are enjoying it.

“And I am really looking forward to coming down to Chichester again. If he is in the country I will stay with Keith or Angie.

“It was 1981 when I first met Keith. It seems like yesterday. I met him because my friend became his bodyguard. I was in a band and my friend thought Keith would like the band and that he would like me.

“We have been friends ever since. Keith is the perfect honest gentleman. He is a great friend to have.”

As for his survival: “If I had the secret of life, I don’t think I would share it. But Keith is one of life’s last great mysteries.

“I think he just enjoys life.”

And of course, he enjoys his music. Alan was delighted to be around while the Stones were recording their new blues album which came out just before Christmas, their first studio album in more than a decade.

“I went down there and they were just jamming, the sort of jam they do just to loosen up. And it became the album. When they record, they record everything. They just keep the tape running, and then it was so good that they just had to bring it out. I was also with them on their last album, A Bigger Bang, back in 2005.”

It was an enormously difficult time for Alan.

“Unfortunately, 15 years ago, I had a son who died of cancer who was 22, and that obviously puts you off kilter for a long time.

“You never get over something like that. You just learn to live with it.”

Alan had a long break from The Dirty Strangers as a result.

“When I went on the Bigger Bang tour, I was just getting over it. Keith just said ‘Come away with us.’ When I came back off A Bigger Bang, I resurrected The Dirty Strangers. I am so pleased I did. The last thing my son would have wanted would have been for us to stop playing. You have got to carry on.”

“Keith took me away as a favour. I was doing a guitar tech job. I would do the line checks to make sure everything is working, and I was on the road with them for two and a half years. It wasn’t constant.

“The first time I was away for six months, and then there were periods when I was back for a couple of weeks here and there, but it was two and a half years, and it was a great experience.”

The Dirty Strangers will also be playing at Daisy’s Day on Saturday, April 22, a day’s festival benefit for local girl Daisy Wigginton, at The Pond Barn, Bracklesham Bay.

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