Keith Richards was ready to call it a day after recording and jamming at New York's famed Electric Lady Studios.
According to bassist Lee Rocker, the Rolling Stones axeman gathered up his belongings and headed for the exit, nonchalantly grabbing a leopard print jacket on his way the door. The only problem was that the jacket belonged to Rocker, whose new trio -- Phantom, Rocker & Slick -- had invited Richards over to lay down guitar for the group's debut album.
More than three decades after the incident, Rocker is still stumped as to why Richards left with the jacket but remains thankful for the experience.
"We asked Keith Richards if he would play guitar on a couple of tracks," Rocker recalled during an early January phone interview. "He shows up with a Telecaster with five strings and no case, by himself. We turned on the equipment and we started playing and he cut some great stuff... To this day, I don't know if he thought (the jacket) was his or what."
The tale of the disappearing leopard jacket is one of several memories the Stray Cats bassist may recount at length during his Friday performance at the State Theatre in Easton.
Rocker said the performance is more of a hybrid than straight-up rock 'n' roll concert; a musical retrospective of his nearly 40 years in the industry, interspersed with recollections from the road and the stories behind the songs. It is a highlight reel that includes his work the Stray Cats, Phantom, Rocker & Slick and as a solo artist.
The idea to do such a concert, Rocker said, was inspired by his 12-night run on Broadway in 2011, when he performed in the musical "Million Dollar Quartet."
"It's a matter of starting with the music and seeing if there was something interesting or funny that happened around it," he said. "Youth has angst and piss and vinegar, which is awesome. But the longer you do it, you have a different way of doing things."
Rocker's upright bass and rumbling bottom end have become a cornerstone of the Stray Cats vintage, rockabilly-infused sound. At the age of 17, he formed the band with Phantom and guitarist-vocalist Brian Setzer.
The Stray Cats' 1982 American debut album Built for Speed spawned the singles "Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut." The former was chosen by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for inclusion in its list of "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."
"The first track we ever recorded with the Stray Cats was 'Runaway Boys.' That's got a bass line that's integral, it's sort of the driver to song," Rocker said. "Being a bass player, being a musician, I like to serve the song. In that case, it's all built around the bass."
In 1985, Rocker and Phantom teamed with guitarist Earl Slick -- best known for his work with David Bowie and John Lennon -- following the Stray Cats' split a year earlier. Phantom, Rocker & Slick released two albums: their eponymous debut effort and 1986's Cover Girl. Cover Girl includes the single "My Mistake," which features Richards guesting on guitar.
Rocker reunited with Phantom and Setzer in 1986, only for the Stray Cats to split up again in 1992. Twelve years later, the trio got back together for a 2004 European tour, followed by a 2007 North American trek with the Pretenders and ZZ Top.
In between Stray Cats reunions, Rocker has released 13 solo albums and hosted the former radio show, "Rumble & Twang." Although he has not put out a new record since 2012's covers collection, Night Train to Memphis, Rocker says he has an album's worth of material ready to be recorded.
"I need to get back and spend days and days listening through things and see where I left it off and see how I feel about it," Rocker said. "I'm definitely overdue for a new record."
He later added, "It's my goal to really do an honest recording and a real live performance."
Though the Stray Cats have not toured since their run of dates in Australia and New Zealand in 2008, Rocker said he and the rest of the band have been in talks about a return to the road. Rocker said the tour will likely happen in 2018, though specifics are still being worked out.
"It'll be a blast to hit the stage again and work with Brian and Jim, guys I grew up with," Rocker said.