“Show the kids out there how it's done”: Watch Keith Richards play Rolling Stones classics on a 5-string guitar with Jimmy Fallon

Keith Richards (left) plays guitar as Jimmy Fallon looks on
(Image credit: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)

Last week (October 20), the Rolling Stones released Hackney Diamonds, their first album of original material in 18 years.

Filled with some of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood's finest fretwork in decades, the LP has been well-received, and shows that – even after 60+ years together – the Stones still have creative fire.

To promote the album, Richards recently stopped by The Tonight Show, where host Jimmy Fallon – who hosted a live-streamed Q&A with the Stones last month – proclaimed Keef “the greatest guitarist of all time,” and asked the riff-master to “show the kids out there how it's done” with renditions of a few Stones classics.

To the former point, Richards said with a chuckle, “[Andrés] Segovia might disagree,” but he acquiesced to the latter, bringing out a classical guitar – which, you'll note, features just five tuning pegs – to run through some tunes with Fallon on vocals.

You can see the unlikely duo's charmingly rag-tag performance below.

Richards begins by demonstrating his use of open G tuning to the audience, picking out the opening to Honky Tonk Women with just open strings. Then, he moves on to the stadium perennial Start Me Up, which inspires Fallon to do his best Mick Jagger impression. Points for the accent, we've gotta say.

Expressing wonder at how Richards gets such a full sound on his own, Fallon then requests that the riff-master lead them out with Jumpin' Jack Flash. The two do get some help from the Roots, with guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas providing some extra backbone with (we'd assume) his signature triple-humbucker Gibson SG.

Richards is only armed with a classical model on Fallon, but he certainly wasn't lacking for choice gear during the Hackney Diamonds sessions. 

The album's producer, Andrew Watt – who, in recent years alone, has also worked with Pearl JamOzzy Osbourne, and Iggy Pop – brought five amps that had been worked on by the great Alexander Dumble to the studio, and lent him a 1930 Gibson L-4 acoustic for Hackney Diamonds' closer, a fitting cover of Muddy Waters' Rolling Stone Blues.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.