STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – It was a rock and roll wedding almost made on Staten Island.
But it wasn’t to be. And now the church where the event was supposed to take place is no more.
It was December of 1982, and the borough was abuzz with rumors that legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards would soon wed his fiancée, top fashion model and Tottenville native Patti Hansen, at century-old Eltingville Lutheran Church.
Richards and Hansen met on a blind date in 1979, thanks to Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger’s then-girlfriend and Hansen’s fellow top model, Jerry Hall, who invited Hansen to a party being held for Richards.
In true Hollywood fashion, Hansen had been discovered when she was 16 years old and selling hot dogs from her father’s cart on Staten Island.
After dating for three years, it was rumored that Richards and Hansen would tie the know at Eltingville Lutheran, her family’s church, on Sunday, Dec. 12.
Hansen’s mom, Beatrice, initially told the Advance at the time that she knew nothing about it. But then she said that her daughter had called from France about the wedding. She said she told Patti that the ceremony couldn’t be arranged that quickly.
Word then came that the wedding would take place at the church on Sunday, Dec. 19, 1982, the day after groom-to-be Richards’ 39th birthday.
Fans, photographers and reporters swarmed the area around the church all that weekend, hoping to get a glimpse of the couple and any rock-and-roll royalty attending the ceremony. That included Jagger, who was set to serve as his longtime bandmate’s best man.
But the weekend passed without the wedding taking place. The event was postponed another two times in the following weeks for unknown reasons. Beatrice Hansen told the Advance that the wedding would take place in January of 1983.
But the wedding didn’t happen then either because of sad circumstances: The death of Patti Hansen’s dad, Alfred Hansen.
Richards in his 2010 autobiography “Life” tells of his rocky introduction to the Hansen family in Tottenville on Thanksgiving Day, 1980.
Richards, who was still coming off his longtime addiction to heroin at the time, said that he’d been up for days and brought a bottle of vodka or Jack Daniel’s to the Hansen home.
Though his well-earned reputation as a rock-and-roll reprobate and hard-core substance abuser preceded him, Richards broke the ice by playing guitar for the Hansen family.
But while others were being polite at dinner, Richards writes, “to Big Al, Patti’s father, I was just kind of weird. He was a Staten Island bus driver and I was an ‘international pop star.’”
Feeling increasingly “under the grill” at the dinner, Richards said, “I went berserk” and smashed the guitar on the table.
But the family wasn’t offended, even though Patti Hansen was mortified. Richards apologized profusely and had a cry with Patti on the front steps of the Hansen home as the family looked on. He later took his future father-in-law to his favorite bar for some pool.
“And I let him think that he’d drunk me under the table,” Richards said.
He said, “But it was Beatrice, Patti’s mum, who was the key to my acceptance. She was always there for me and I had great times with her later on.”
Richards and Patti Hansen eventually wed on Saturday, Dec. 18, 1983 in the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas. It was the groom’s 40th birthday.
The wedding plans were kept so secret that Jagger didn’t know about the ceremony until the day before, according to news reports at the time. He chartered a private jet and flew to the wedding from Barbados, where he’d been vacationing.
Most of the bride’s relatives had been told of the date the prior week but were sworn to secrecy. Hansen’s mom, three brothers and a sister of the bride attended the ceremony.
The site of the near nuptials in Eltingville was recently demolished in order to make room for 20 two-family homes. The church had a history of financial difficulties. An accompanying school also fell to the wrecking ball.
Richards and Hansen remain married and have two children together. The Rolling Stones, first formed in 1962, recently issued their acclaimed “Hackney Diamonds” album, their 26th studio LP in the United States.