Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Aging rocker in tree-fall shocker

AP , WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

Did he think he was Jumping Jack Flash?

A vacation in Fiji was certainly no gas for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards who had to be airlifted to a hospital in New Zealand after he fell out of a palm tree and was later involved in a jet ski crash, media reports said yesterday.

"Earlier this week Rolling Stone Keith Richards suffered a mild concussion while on holiday in Fiji," Fran Curtis, a spokeswoman for the veteran rock band, said in a statement. "Following treatment locally and as a precautionary measure he flew to a hospital accompanied by his wife Patti for observation."

No further details on the 62-year-old British rocker's condition were immediately available.

According to New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times, Richards fell out of a coconut tree and suffered a serious headache, but he still had the energy to jump on a jet ski -- and get into another accident.

The paper provided no details on the jet ski crash, but quoted Suva Private Hospital spokesman Uzzel Kanti Dhar as saying that Richards was admitted to hospital in the Fijian capital on Thursday last week, the same day he plunged from the palm tree.

He was reportedly airlifted to Auckland's Ascot Hospital later that day, but duty manager Steve Kirby refused to confirm early yesterday that Richards was a patient there, citing the hospital's privacy policy.

Fans gathered outside the hospital yesterday and New Zealand's TV3 reported that his wife arrived carrying clothes and a security guard carried in three guitar cases.

"Nobody likes falling from a height like that, but he's never fallen from grace for me," fan Dave Buchanan told TV3 News. "He still has a lot of grace and I'm glad he has mild concussion -- nothing serious."

Richards and his wife had been staying at the exclusive Wakaya Club resort, which occupies a small palm-fringed Fijian island, when the reported palm tree and jet ski mishaps happened.

Salesi Finau of the resort told reporters that Richards and his wife recently stayed at the resort for about a week, but would not say when they left.

Finau also refused to comment on the reports that Richards had an accident.

"I am sorry, I do not have any comment on that," he said.

The Rolling Stones played a concert in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 18 as part of their "A Bigger Bang" world tour.

According to the band's Web site, the Stones' next scheduled concert is late this month at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, followed by 34 more dates across Europe.

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