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Stones deny Richards brain damage

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Los Angeles (Reuters): Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, recovering from a head injury caused by a fall last month in Fiji, has not suffered brain damage, a spokeswoman for the band said. The Stones' New York-based publicist, Fran Curtis, issued a statement denying a report in the New Zealand Herald that Richards, 62, had undergone two surgeries and that doctors were concerned about brain damage.

''Keith Richards did not undergo a second operation. The first and only operation was done on Monday, May 8, and was 100 percent successful,'' the band's statement said. ''There was no brain damage. He continues to improve as expected.'' The European leg of the band's ''A Bigger Bang'' world tour would begin in June, the statement said.

The hard-living Richards, a founding member and mainstay of the band with lead singer Mick Jagger since the Stones formed in the early 1960s, has been in Auckland, New Zealand, under medical observation and treatment since taking a fall while on vacation in the island resort of Fiji in late April.

Last week, a spokeswoman for the band said Richards had suffered only a mild concussion and would not need surgery. But the band issued a statement on Monday acknowledging that after complaining of headaches, he had undergone ''a small operation to remove the pressure.'' The New Zealand Herald, citing an unnamed source, reported that Richards had undergone surgery 11 days earlier, on April 28, to stop bleeding in his skull, and that medical staff feared for his life at that time. According to the Herald, he was discharged a few days later but was readmitted to the hospital after passing out and complaining of major headaches. The second operation, which the newspaper described as major surgery, involved drilling holes in Richards' skull, and removing a portion of the skull, to remove blood clots. Ascot Hospital in Auckland declined comment on the report.

Richards' two daughters-21-year-old Theodora and 19-year-old Alexandra-also were reported to have arrived at the hospital to join their mother at Richards' bedside. The Stones' publicists have given few details of Richards' fall, which happened after the band's tour through Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. Newspaper accounts have variously reported that he fell from a tree or from a watercraft while on vacation.

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