By People Staff
September 15, 2014 12:00 PM

When Keith Richards was first approached to do a children’s book, “my first response was, ‘A children’s book? You’re kidding me,’ ” says the 70-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist, who is best known for the sordid tales of drugs, arrests and life on the road that he told in his bestselling memoir Life. But this time Richards delivers a surprisingly sweeter story: His new book Gus & Me (out Sept. 9) is a tribute to his grandfather Gus, who gave him his first guitar around age 9. “I’ve always wanted to pay homage to Gus. He set me on my way,” says the rocker, who himself is Grandpa to five—Ella, 18, Orson, 14, and Ida, 5 (from son Marlon, 45), and Ava, 3, and Otto, 7 months (from daughter Angela, 42). But he had one condition: “I had to keep it in the family,” says Richards, who asked his artist daughter Theodora, 29, to illustrate the tale. “It was a real Richards effort,” she says. Here, the duo opens up to PEOPLE’s Michelle Tan about their first collaboration, their favorite childhood memories and the Monty Python movie that sealed their bond.

KEITH

For me, the idea of grandparents zoomed into my consciousness at about age 5. My mom would take me to visit Gus, her father. Suddenly my grandfather says to my mother, “Go get your daddy’s slippers.” I am gobsmacked! Nobody tells my mother what to do. To me this was like, “Whoa, Granddad is a special position!” But this book wasn’t my idea. It filtered through my publishers, and at the same time I was expecting my fifth grandchild. It seemed appropriate with the two things coinciding.

THEODORA

And he tossed it to me. We were at dinner, and Dad was like, “I have a surprise for you.” I read the first few lines and realized he was asking me to do the book. I’ve always loved to draw, but I’ve never put it out there.

KEITH

I talked her into it. But it was a perfect match. It felt right.

THEODORA

Alexandra [her sister, 28] and I were right before this age where every kid has an iPad or iPhone. KEITH The way to keep her quiet was to give her a piece of paper and a pen.

THEODORA

It was a great partnership. We’re like best friends. At 13, he showed me Life of Brian, and that was it. Our relationship was completely welded. From then on it was talks about God, marriage, babies. We could talk about everything for hours.

KEITH

There’s a sense of humor, which I picked up from Gus and I think she picked up from me.

THEODORA

The childhood memories I love are the bedtime stories. Alexandra and I used to not want to go to bed, so my parents would chase us. He would be hiding, and we would just see the flash of the cigarette in the darkness of the hallways. Then he would come running towards us and we would scream and run up the stairs. Then Dad used to read stories. My favorite was the picture book with the kittens.

KEITH

And I’d make up a story.

THEODORA

Every night it would be different, and I would say, “The cat did not say that yesterday.” But he would come up with these witty one-liners that would send me and Alexandra into tizzies.

KEITH

Theo is only 16 months older, but the first few days of seeing Theo and her sister come together, that to me was like, “This is going to be so much fun.” They were like two great buddies.

THEODORA

Now these grand-kids want to be all over Daddy, just crawling all over him and in and out of his legs.

KEITH

The first grandchild you try to ignore in a way—not the child, the fact. Then when they’re old enough to say “Grandpa” and you realize they’re talking to you, it’s like, “oh right …” I’m growing into it. When they’re angsty with their parents, I’m the safe haven. Grandparents can do great things with the kids, and, since I am one, I’m here to raise the profile of grandfathers.

THEODORA

Grandfathers are hip!

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