Story By: G. H. HARDING
Keith Richards

KEITH’S KIDS – Hell hath frozen over … twice in fact. Keith Richards has written a children’s book.

Keith did do a double and triple take when his publisher approached him with the idea that flowered into Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar (Little, Brown Books For Young Readers), the new picture book featuring illustrations by Theodora Richards, the elder of his two daughters with wife/model Patti Hansen.

"This one came around sort of behind my back," says Richards. "It happened to coincide with my first daughter, Angela" — from a previous relationship — "having my fifth grandchild (Otto, now 9 ). And I realized that I wanted to give my own grandfather his due for having turned me on to music."

There was also the chance to work with Theodora, 29, whom he chose to provide art for the book. "With those three ingredients I couldn't say no."

The characters and story required no embellishment. Theodore Augustus "Gus" Dupree, Richards' maternal grandpa and Theodora's namesake, was a big-band jazz musician who had seven daughters and owned and played a number of instruments. And he often took grandson Keith, also the name of the boy in the book, on outings like Gus & Me's journey through London's streets and a music store.

"I would be the only lad at family gatherings," Richards recalls. "He'd say, 'Let's take the dogs for a walk,' and we'd wander off. He would take me to music shops, thrift shops. … I was too young to always know what he was up to, but there was usually a bit of wheeling and dealing. He'd come out with a brand-new set of strings for his violin, or a nice piece of fish to take home to Mother."

Dupree "Sussed me out for a guitar player" at the age of 5 or 6, Richards adds. "I was a Roy Rogers freak. There was a man who could ride a horse, shoot straight and play a guitar. To me that was the epitome of a hero. Nothing to shoot? Just get the guitar out. And that's how Gus got hold of my imagination."

Theodora, who describes her style as that of "a doodler," received a lot of input from her dad. "I would draw him in a school uniform, with his socks pulled straight up, and he would tell me, 'I would never wear a tie when I was with my grandfather, and my socks were always rolled down.' "

Gus & Me's illustrator notes that her father, like his cohorts in the Stones, was schooled in her craft himself.

"Those boys, when they were going to school – Mick, Ronnie, Dad – they were all taught art. And they're all ingenious artists. Dad can do a portrait of you in three lines. There's stuff he's done of Mom that he doesn't put out there. But I think he should do something massive, because his stuff is gorgeous."

Where the book is concerned, at least, Richards says, "The only juice I'm trying to get out of this is to put grandparents more in touch with grand kids, and vice versa. Look — I'm a shining example of what could happen!"

Steady now!

AQUA VELVA STING --- I just loved those handful of acoustic performances of Sting doing his “Last Ship” from his forthcoming play of the same name, which opens at the Neil Simon Theatre in October.

I walked past the television last night and thought I heard a commercial for one of those cheesy-man colognes like Aqua Velva … well, turns out it was the full cast of the play singing the very same song. I like Sting a lot of will certainly withhold judgment, but it certainly looked a tad too cheeky ... even for Mr. Sumner!

Speaking of Mr. Sting, he'll reprise his tour with Paul Simon next year in Europe. I saw it earlier this year and absolutely loved it. The duo will start their tour in March in Krakow following the success of their acclaimed North American tour Paul Simon & Sting On Stage Together.

The pair will perform in the U. K. from 7-15, and in April Dublin Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, and London following dates in Krakow, Prague, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Koln, Zurich, Munich, Milan, Vienna and Paris.

U2 UNLEASHED --- The new U2 album was released yesterday. They played at the Apple press conference yesterday. The freshest and most honest appraisal comes from NPR’s Ann Powers: “So I couldn't resist -- I gave one not very focused listen to the new U2. I don't see the value in all the snark that is already being leveled at the band . This is a cyclical move for the band -- reconnect with the energy of the pop marketplace. The production doesn't give me that old U2 swoon, but that is not the point here. If the (Ryan) Tedder vibe dominates, well, there would be no Tedder without Achtung Baby. Maybe no Danger Mouse, either; certainly no Broken Bells. There are some songs that feel a little tossed off, maybe, like the loose moves of dads on the tennis court; but there are some beauties, too. And honestly what is wrong with expressing gratitude to the Clash and the Ramones? I don't think Joey would be rolling over at this; I think he would appreciate the acknowledgement. Signed, a diehard fan.” Well said Ann.

CLOSING NOTES --- David Bowie is set to release new music later this year as part of a greatest hits collection marking 50 years of his career.

The legendary musician made an acclaimed comeback with The Next Day last year after 10 years out of the spotlight.

His next record, Nothing Has Changed, will collate the best tracks since his debut in 1964.

A new song “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)” will be released on November 18, the same day that Nothing Has Changed hits stores. “’Tis A Pity She’s A Whore”, another exclusive recording from 2014, will feature as a B-Side.

Bowie’s first single “Liza Jane” opens the album, while classics such as “Life On Mars?”, “Space Oddity” and “Blue Jean” are also included.

“Let Me Sleep Beside You” from Bowie’s Toy album sessions will be featured as well, as will a download “Your Turn To Drive” and the 2001 re-recording of shelved Ziggy Stardust track “Shadow Man”.

The artwork for Nothing Has Changed, named after a line from his song “Sunday”, is expected to be unveiled soon ...

Diane von Furstenberg’s The Woman I Wanted To Be gets published Oct. 28 ...

Alexa Green debuts tomorrow night at 54 Below ... 9:30 PM show ...

SIGHTINGS --- Jersey Boys' Donnie Kehr and mouthpiece David Salidor at the Aglit fashion show at the downtown Hyatt ... John Catsimatidis B-day party at Le Cirque brought out Geraldo Rivera; Ernie Anastos; Joe Piscopo and Tony LoBianco. Tony Danza hustling into an SUV on West 67th Street in NYC.  DJ-master Glenn Friscia at Chris Gilman's Yerba Buena Perry.