IN HIS recent screen role as a pirate captain in the hit Pirates of the Caribbean movies, legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was trying to avoid the Royal Navy.
But in real life the mega-star is an avid history buff, and made a private visit to see Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.
The 67-year-old contacted the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth to ask if they could arrange for him to have a look around outside regular visiting hours.
And the notoriously hard-living guitarist, known for hits such as Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Paint it Black, proved to be anything but hard work during the visit with his family on Wednesday.
Dockyard spokeswoman Melissa Gerbaldi got to meet him and chat about his interest in all things navy, how he grew up reading CS Forester’s novels about Horatio Hornblower and then later Patrick O’Brian’s novels on which the blockbuster film Master and Commander was based.
Miss Gerbaldi said: ‘There was a real buzz on the site once we knew that he was paying us a visit. It’s not every day you have the chance to meet a rock legend. He had a real interest in all the attractions we have within the Historic Dockyard.’
He was reportedly left impressed by the intricacies of the rigging, having read about the restoration work taking place on the top masts.
Miss Gerbaldi added: ‘It was out of hours, but there was a function on in the museum opposite, so those lucky people got to meet him as well.
‘He was absolutely charming, very friendly and approachable.
‘He was stopping to say hello and taking time to talk to everyone and signing autographs.
‘I was trying to be professional and not be too fan-like, but it was difficult.’
Richards is not the only member of rock royalty to be fascinated by HMS Victory.
Last year Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry made a low-key visit – he later posted a picture of himself in front of the ship on his blog, calling it ‘a dream come true.’