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1,016 of 1,081 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You thought he'd remember nothing? Well, he remembers all of it. 'Life' is absolutely fascinating.
Keith Richards. Right, he's the Rolling Stone you notice when Mick Jagger's not shaking and singing. The one who kicked his heroin addiction by having all his blood transfused in Switzerland. Who was --- for ten years in a row --- chosen by a music magazine as the rocker "most likely to die." Whose solution to spilling a bit of his father's ashes was to grab a straw and...
Published on October 26, 2010 by Jesse Kornbluth

versus
260 of 283 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars ... 3 stars ... 2 stars
The first third of the book is absolutely fantastic. Keith Richards chronicles his childhood and the formation of the band with lots of personality and charm. Highly recommended. I really couldn't put the book down.

The book loses steam in the middle third -- the drugged-out 70s. I wish a little more time was spent talking about the music. When he *does* write...
Published on November 5, 2010 by Tom Mott


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1,016 of 1,081 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You thought he'd remember nothing? Well, he remembers all of it. 'Life' is absolutely fascinating., October 26, 2010
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
Keith Richards. Right, he's the Rolling Stone you notice when Mick Jagger's not shaking and singing. The one who kicked his heroin addiction by having all his blood transfused in Switzerland. Who was --- for ten years in a row --- chosen by a music magazine as the rocker "most likely to die." Whose solution to spilling a bit of his father's ashes was to grab a straw and snort. Whose most recent revelation is about the size of Mick's equipment.

Yeah, that's the guy. Wild man. Broken tooth, skull ring, earring, kohl eyes --- he's Cpt. Jack Sparrow's father, lurching though life as if it's a pirate movie, ready to unsheathe his knife for any reason, or none. Got some blow, some smack, a case of Jack Daniels? Having a party? Dial Keith.

When you get a $7 million advance for your memoirs, there's no such thing as a "bad" image. But the thing about Keith Richards is, he wants to tell the truth. Like: he didn't have his blood transfused. Like: he didn't take heroin for pleasure or to nod out, but so he could tamp his energy down enough to work. Like: he and Jagger may not be friends but they're definitely brothers --- and if you criticize Mick to him, he'll slit your throat.

Why does Keith want to undercut his legend?

Because he has much better stories to tell.

And in the 547-page memoir he wrote with James Fox, he serves them up like his guitar riffs -- in your face, nasty, confrontational, rich, smart, and, in the end, unforgettable.

Start with the childhood. Keith grew up in a gray, down-and-out suburb of London. School: "I hated it. I'd spend the whole day wondering how to get home without taking a beating." By his teens, he'd figured the system out: "There's bigger bullies than just bullies. There's 'them,' the authorities." He adopts "a criminal mind." His school record reflects this: "'He has maintained a low standard' was the six-word summary of my 1959 school report, suggesting, correctly, that I had put some effort into the enterprise."

His mother is his savior. She likes music, and is a "master twiddler" of the knobs on the radio. When he's 15, she spends ten quid she doesn't have to buy her only child a guitar. (No spoilers here, but much later in the book, you're going to fight tears when he plays a certain song for her.)

The rest of the book? Keith Richards and a guitar --- and what a love story: "Music was a far bigger drug than smack. I could kick smack; I couldn't quit music. One note leads to another, and you never know what's going to come next, and you don't want to. It's like walking on a beautiful tightrope."

What music interests him? Oh, come on: the music of the dispossessed --- black Chicago blues. Mick Jagger, who lives a few blocks away and is prosperous enough to actually buy a few records, also loves this music. To say they bond is to understate: "We both knew we were in a process of learning, and it was something you wanted to learn and it was ten times better than school."

The Rolling Stones form. The casting is quite funny: "Bill Wyman arrived, or, more important, his Vox amplifier arrived and Bill came with it."

Today bands dream of getting rich. Not the Stones: "We hated money." Their first aim was to be the best rhythm and blues band in London. Their second was to get a record contract. The way to do that was to play.

Something happened when the Stones were on stage, something sexy and dangerous and never seen before. The Beatles held your hand. In 18 months, the Stones never finished a show. Keith estimates they played, on average, five to ten minutes before the screaming started, and then the fainting, until the security team was piling unconscious teenage girls on the stage like so much firewood.

Fame. When it comes, there's no way out; you need it to do your work. The Stones at least brought a new look to it; they provoked the press, didn't care what the record company wanted. Only the music mattered. As Berry Gordy liked to say, "It's what's in the grooves that counts."

"The world's greatest rock band" --- between 1966 and 1973, it's hard to argue that they weren't. Songs poured out of them: "I used to set up the riffs and the titles and the hook, and Mick would fill in. We didn't think much or analyze....Take it away, Mick. Your job now. I've given you the riff, baby."

Drugs? Necessary. In the South, a black musician laid it out for Keith: "Smoke one of these, take one of these." Keith would move on beyond grass and Benzedrine to cocaine for the blast and focus, heroin for the two or three day work marathon. Engineers would give their all and fall asleep under the console, to be replaced by others. Keith would soldier on. "For many years," he says, "I slept, on average, twice a week."

With money and success, though, there's suddenly time to think --- in Keith's case, about all the things about Mick that drove him nuts. His interest in Society. His egomania. His insecurity. And his promiscuity: "Mick never wanted me to talk to his women. They end up crying on my shoulder because they've found out that he has once again philandered. What am I gonna do? The tears that have been on this shoulder from Jerry Hall, from Bianca, from Marianne, Chrissie Shrimpton... They've ruined so many shirts of mine. And they ask me what to do! How should I know? I had Jerry Hall come to me one day with this note from some other chick that was written backwards --- really good code, Mick! --- "I'll be your mistress forever." All you had to do was hold it up to a mirror to read it... And I'm in the most unlikely role of counselor, "Uncle Keith." It's a side a lot of people don't connect with me."

If only it could be so simple as a man and his guitar! But there are other people involved, in close association, with a lot at stake --- and here comes the business story, the drug story, the power story. It's funny and silly. And, after a while, sad. Mick breaks away from the Stones and makes a solo record: "It was like 'Mein Kampf.' Everybody had a copy but nobody listened to it." Mick gets grand. Keith's lost in drugs. From 1982 to 1989, the Stones don't tour; from 1985 to 1989, they don't go into the studio.

And now they are rich. Beyond rich. Every time they tour or license a song, their wealth mounts -- Keith, by most estimates, is worth at least $250 million. It's ironic, really, for by any creative analysis, the Stones were over after "Exile on Main Street." And yet, here they are, almost four decades later, capable of producing the most lucrative tour of any year.

Like so many things these days, music is about branding -- and there's no bigger brand than the Rolling Stones. Keith may slag his band mates; he'd never mock the Stones. Because the band is, if his version is accurate, really his triumph. Mick provided the flash, but in rock and roll, a great riff will always trump flash.

A great riff will also trump time. We love rock for many reasons, and not the smallest is the way it makes us feel young, as if everything's possible and the road is clear ahead of us. And here is Keith Richards, who never grew up and is now so rich he'll never have to.

His story slows as it approaches the present, and you start to wonder if this Peter Pan life can get to its end without real pain. And you think, well, there's another side to this -- if Mick started writing tonight, he could have his book out before he's 70. But mostly, you wish you could go back to the beginning of "Life" and start again.
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260 of 283 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars ... 3 stars ... 2 stars, November 5, 2010
By 
Tom Mott (Culver City, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
The first third of the book is absolutely fantastic. Keith Richards chronicles his childhood and the formation of the band with lots of personality and charm. Highly recommended. I really couldn't put the book down.

The book loses steam in the middle third -- the drugged-out 70s. I wish a little more time was spent talking about the music. When he *does* write about how songs come together, or about musical insights he has (like discovery open tuning), it's great reading. The sections where his son Marlon talks about life on the road with his dad are interesting. But much of the middle just gets bogged down in all the drugs, the drug busts, the cold turkey sessions, etc. Yeah OK, that was his life, but they were still making records, and a better balance of material about the band and the music would have been a nice respite from all the drugs.

It gets a bit better when he's writing about the late-80s/90s - the split with Mick and their respective solo careers.

But the final section just falls apart. It reads like the anecdotes that celebrities tell on talk shows. "Ah, the funniest thing happened at my daughter's wedding ...." "The crew found a puppy hanging around near the stage ...." "You wouldn't believe the enormous snapping turtle ...."

And there are some odd omissions: Bill Wyman is barely mentioned, which is fine, but more explanation is needed. Some of the biggest Stones albums are glossed over in half a page. Great songs like Shattered and Some Girls aren't even mentioned. The mixing and release of Tattoo You is barely discussed (if at all ... I don't recall now).

So 5 stars for the first third / 3 stars for the middle / 2 for the end.
Still worth it, especially for Stones fans.
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168 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RIVETING ACCOUNT OF RICHARDS' LIFE IN AND OUT OF MUSIC, October 26, 2010
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
This memoir, written with the help of writer James Fox, is an intricately detailed account of Keith Richards life, both in and out of music-but mostly in. All the stories are here-the funny, the touching, the horrendous, and the amazing. Some are well known, some weren't even known to Richards-he only hears later, from others who were with him, what went on. And he's put it all in this book. Included are 32 pages of b&w and color photographs (including one of the band, with Jagger driving, in a vintage red convertible, across the Brooklyn Bridge) in two groups, plus photos throughout the book itself chronicling Richards' life. Also of interest is an early diary that Richards kept detailing the bands early gigs and impressions of the music the band played.

Richards has been known as many things-"the human riff", as some kind of prince of a dark underworld filled with drugs, booze, and skull rings, as "Keef", a rock 'n' roll pirate, as someone who should be dead (several times over) from massive drug use and other lifestyle choices, and as someone hounded by law enforcement-looking to incarcerate this bad example to all the kids. But Richards is also known as a settled (for him) family man. But somehow he's survived it all. And now, with this autobiography, he's letting us into his life. This book looks back at all the times-good, bad, and just plain strange.

Beginning with Richards' boyhood in post-war England, no stone is left unturned in detailing his young life. A life which changed forever with his discovery of American blues. From that era the book details the formation of THE ROLLING STONES (I would like to have learned more about Brian Jones' in relation to the formation of the group), which changed his life again-a life he continues to the present.

This book is important, interesting, and at times, harrowing, with a myriad of details surrounding Richards, his band, and anyone caught up in their universe of music, good times, misery, drugs, violence, and just plain weirdness. But the book also shows another side of Keith Richards. The pain he felt (and still feels) when his young son Tara, died while Richards was on tour. The loss of musician and friend/band hanger-on, Gram Parsons. Looking back with regret as people close to him sunk into a hellish pit of drug addiction. And Richards' own account of his years of drug use-especially heroin and the misery he brought on himself, even while he was careful not to go to far over the edge.

Of course no memoir concerning Richards would be complete without accounts of the ups and downs, over many years, with Mick Jagger. There's a number of fascinating asides and insights concerning their ideas of what direction the band should follow. Unfortunately, but not surprising, Jagger (and the other band members) are not heard from. That's unfortunate because of all the valuable insight concerning Richards' life on and off the stage, and the inner workings of one of the world's greatest rock 'n' roll bands, that his long time band mates could bring to the story. But others who have known Richards over the course of many years were interviewed. People like Ronnie Spector, Jim Dickinson, Andrew Oldham, Bobby Keys, and a number of fellow musicians and friends, all have telling bits and pieces to add to the overall picture of just who Richards is.

The detail Richards and Fox have put into this well written memoir is almost staggering. Reading about the early days of the band is exciting and fascinating, if for no other reason the era they came up in is long since vanished. The discovery and idolization of musicians like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, and other blues greats, trying to emulate the hard scrabble lifestyles of American blues artists, the small scruffy clubs the band played in the beginning, living in abject poverty and squalor, the large concerts in later years, the songs, the albums, the drugs, and the many fascinating (and sometimes disgusting) characters that drift in and out of Richards' life-it's all here. And taken together, this is a story only Keith Richards could live (and survive) to write about in such detail.

While there have been other decent books on Richards and/or the Stones, for the straight, unvarnished truth, as he sees it and lived it, this is the book that matters. This memoir, written in a Richards-to-you conversational style, is interesting, exciting, gritty, informative, harrowing, and important. And with this book, written in his own words, we can't get much closer to the man and his life than that.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Rocks, October 28, 2010
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This review is from: Life (Kindle Edition)
In the early eighties I used to see Keith Richards in various altered states in a hotel on the upper east side of New York City. What amused me then, and still does, is that in the morning the doormen in their crisp red uniforms would be taking his dogs for a walk in Central Park. Mr. Richards, himself, looked as though he might have recently been sleeping under a bridge. At the time, it never crossed my mind that this guy was even literate, much less erudite and, as evidenced by this memoir, insightful. Mr. Richards has written the rock 'n roll story from a musician's perspective and, if he takes a shot, he aims it for the ones who can take it, including himself.

As he describes taking his seven year old son, Marlon, on the road for a Stones tour while he himself is a strung out mess, he doesn't sugar coat it and, not surprisingly, the years of drug addictiion, the arrests, and the close calls are all part of this story. Some stories are heartbreaking, others hilarious and he gives good anecdote. However, it is Mr. Richards dedication to the music and his fellow musicians that make this doozy of a book soar. Keith Richards, superstar, is still as excited about making music, playing music and learning about music as he was fifty years ago, which is why we're all still listening and what makes this book such a great read.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't try this life at home - but it's sure fun to read about, November 7, 2010
By 
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
What a fun biography! What a life!

Keith Richards is definitely my favorite heroin addict, ever.

Random observations:

--He refreshingly avoids recovery-speak in discussing his legendary drug abuse. Consequently this may be one of the best firsthand accounts of it ever written - clear, plain, detailed. I'd rather read this than Aldous Huxley or The Beats. While not encouraging anyone else to try it, he doesn't apologize or lather on phony regrets . He enjoyed it while he did it. A lot of it was just business for touring musicians- something to get you up for the next show on your grueling schedule, and something to mellow off the first drug's hard edges. He figures he stayed alive because he used pure products (often obtained, albeit illegally, from legal prescriptions ), and was meticulous about not overdoing it. There's a jolly scene where he describes himself cutting Turkish heroin exactly 97 to 3. Not 96 to 4.

-- He's down to earth. More genuine, perhaps, than Jagger, whom he faults for accepting a knighthood after playing the rebel his entire life. (A class thing perhaps - Jagger the middle-class, good-student striver ultimately wanting acceptance by the elites; Richards the son of a factory worker, knowing that's not his bag and not really wanting it.) He'd rather hang with musicians, particularly good ones, than the jet set and Eurotrash.

--He never turns to Buddhism, rants about politics or devotes himself to saving the planet. For this alone I'd lionize him.

-- Richards prefers the band to the solo; for him the big moment is when the sound blends and you can't tell who's playing what. He likes hanging with his best buds, most of whom have been in jail. He's comfortable with black people in contexts most whites never reach - Rastafarians in remote villages where most white people would get shot, all-night parties with black musicians on the other side of the tracks after shows in the still-segregated South.

--He really has led a charmed life, wriggling out of numerous busts where they had him cold - in Canada, Honolulu, Arkansas, and England. He's also survived auto wrecks and fires, physical mayhem and rioting English teenage girls, whom he regarded as scarier than the cops who staked him out for years trying to catch him with drugs.

--Oh my God: all the women. Sigh. It's good to be king.

Now for the pontificating. This is one of the most important books in rock history in recent years. Popular culture knows a hell of a lot about the Beatles but far less about the Stones. What folks know about them, they tend to know about Jagger instead of Richards. And what they know about Richards is disproportionately his indestructibility in the face of unbelievable drug abuse.

Which is a pity. Let's not forget that the Rolling Stones were there at the conception, just like the Beatles. Teenyboppers rioted for them, just like for the Beatles. In 1964, two British polls showed them more popular than the Fab Four. Their rise was seen as heralding the Apocalypse, probably more so than the Beatles. Stones mania in England caught up with the Beatles by 1964 or 1965. The two bands would coordinate their singles' releases so as not to step on each other's hits. By the age of peak cultural and political rebellion, the Beatles were already breaking up while the Stones were just hitting their stride.

While Lennon and McCartney were the latest pop-standard immortals, the Stones saw themselves as bluesmen. They singlehandedly brought the legacy of the Chicago blues to an enormous worldwide audience, reviving many blues careers. Their merging of early rock and roll and Chicago blues created what you today think of as rock - that big pounding sound filling stadiums. No one has ever surpassed them in its execution. Richards refers to them without braggadocio as the world's greatest rock and roll band, and that's true.

So much of that can be attributed to Richards, their guitarist for half a century. He was never a glossy pop celebrity. He had bad teeth. He never came across as a virtuoso a la Clapton or Hendrix. But he and Charlie Watts were - I'm stealing a phrase from the book here - the band's engine house, while Jagger sang and danced out front, the band's public face.

Richards was mesmerized during youth by the blues, but unlike a lot of older blues purists, he also loved rock and roll. The band's early insistence on playing it raised hackles among their base of blues fans; Richards parallels this to folkie disapproval of rock and roll. Richards, Jagger and Brian Jones spent two or three years in poverty singlemindedly pursuing the blues. They dissected every record they could find to replicate its sounds. And they really got it. Early American audiences hearing them on the radio couldn't tell if they were white or black. Richards' life changed when he first heard Elvis singing "Heartbreak Hotel" on a crackling Radio Luxemburg broadcast, but it was Elvis's guitarist Scotty Moore he really idolized.

He describes how music is made, how he and Jagger wrote songs, how a sound was achieved, recording tricks. His discovery of five-string tuning - removing a guitar's lowest string and tuning the others like a banjo - changed the Stones' sound.

The personal data intrigues, and not just the inside dope on his relationships with Ronnie Spector, Anita Pallenberg, Patti Hansen, Uschi Obermaier and others. Readers may be surprised to learn Richards was a devoted Boy Scout patrol leader and thinks it shaped him into someone who could run a band. Or that he was in a prize-winning boys choir. Or that he was nervous approaching women. Or that in later life he's become a devoted reader, preferring history (World War II, the Romans) Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" series, and George MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman" books. (I salute his excellent taste.)

The way to view his life is this: it's not a recommendation to everyone else to screw countless women, including gorgeous models, beautiful revolutionaries, black strippers, groupies and bankers' wives. It's not a recommendation to lead a jangled lifestyle for decades abusing every drug available while putting in recording studio sessions measured in days, not hours, without sleep.

Richards is, more or less, a god in the Greek sense, and we marvel at him because he does things that most of us can't or don't really want to. He's unkillable. He's mega-talented, fabulously rich and famous. He has lived a charmed existence by his own rules. But this life killed or destroyed many around him weaker, less lucky or talented than he. Brian Jones was gone by 1969. Richards is the exception that proves these rules. That's the role of gods and kings.

Don't try this at home. But it's sure fun to read about.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Life without consequences or accountability, November 22, 2010
By 
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
Reading Life was, for me, a fascinating experience. During the first part of the book, I found Richards amazingly honest and non-defensive, about his drug use and his womanizing and his incredibly self-indulgent ways. He didn't make excuses, and I found that very admirable.

Then the book, for me, took an ugly turn. These are the chapters when Richards takes his 7-year-old son, Marlon, on tour with him. It becomes Marlon's job to take care of Richards, who is unable to take care of himself. Marlon witnesses the drug use and the womanizing, is responsible for getting Richards out of bed when no one else can do it, and subsists on a room service diet of cake and ice cream. He has a hamburger only when Mick Jagger takes into his head to show a little kindness to the child. Apparently Marlon doesn't attend school and he has no friends his own age. Later, Richards deposits the child with the child's mother, who he knows is a junkie who can barely take care of herself, and who is living with her unstable, 17-year old lover. When this young man commits suicide during a game of Russian roulette, Marlon sees the splattered brain matter against the walls.

Richards sees nothing wrong with this. Marlon apparently turned out okay, he doesn't become a drug addict, and he has a good relationship with his father.

So it was hard for me to reconcile these two views I had of Richards. On one hand, I admired his ability to look at his life with unflinching honesty. On the other hand, I was disgusted and appalled by the criminal child abuse of a 7 year old child, especially when he had almost unlimited resources to provide a better life for the child.

Then I realized that there isn't much difference between these two views. Richards doesn't make excuses for any of his behaviors because, as a famous rock star, he has never been held accountable for anything. Others will make excuses for him. And they do, constantly, including a blind girl (!) who shows up on the doorstep of a judge who is to sentence Richards and pleads his case for leniency.

The rest of the book, after the revelation, was fun in a different way, seeing how he could act without consequences or accountability, and how that turned him into a raging narcissist. For instance, Richards never missed a concert but he was often late, sometimes by several hours, as he sleeps off the drugs. He doesn't feel bad about this, because he always puts on a great show when he finally arrives.

Think this through. I've been late for appointments before, sometimes 10 - 15 minutes late. Inevitably that person indicates his or her annoyance with my behavior. I feel bad and I apologize. This is how normal life works. Richards' life is a little different. He keeps seventy thousand people waiting while he sleeps. They don't leave, they don't demand their money back. When he finally shows up, they don't express their annoyance. On the contrary, they cheer. And the narcissistic beast gets another meal.
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88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Phenomenal - Similar in Quality and Candor to the Beatles Anthology, October 26, 2010
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
The other reviewers have already done an excellent job of summarizing the topics he speaks of in the book, so I won't pile on that. I just wanted to emphasize the quality and openness and candor of this memoir.

Many mocked his quote in the beginning that he truly remembers all of it, but it's abundantly clear that not only does he remember, but he's willing and eager to share it.

Sure, the $7mm advance helps, but we've all read much-hyped bios that turned out to be self-congratulatory, unimpressive paper weights.

This is not that. You will learn more about Keith than the most die hard fans do, and learn that he's far more than the caricature of a drug-abusing burned out rock star that the media often paints him out to be.

I'm blown away.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superstardom Sarf London Style, October 29, 2010
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
It's hard to judge this book. When I was thirteen my sister and I gravitated from Elvis and Cliff to the Beatles and the Stones, buying every LP as it was released. Later at University Beggars Banquet was played more than anything. Many years later I played Exile on Main Street solid for ten years, so much I can hardly listen to it now.

So I can't be objective, its like reading a book by my cousin. It's very very frank about relationships, about drugs, about occasional violence. There's a lot of stuff about musical technique, just like Miles Davis's autobiography, which it reminds me of. I don't understand most of this not being a guitarist, but the feel of these sections is great. It makes you want to get out all your John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed records.

The section about Brian Jones is revealing. This is actually the first book about the Stones I have read, so in comparison with the general familiarity from newspaper stories and rumours I had this is great, and Richards has an aura of telling the truth, by and large I would mostly buy what he's saying. There is also a very moving section about Gram Parsons, who seems to have been one of his closest musical associates and friends.

Earlier, all the stuff about his family is fabulous. Its worth tracking down the full length version of the Andrew Marr interview on BBCi incidentally, where Marr and Keith say his childhood was Dickensian which was exactly what was going through my head when I was reading about his wonderful family. His mother and his maternal grandfather were something else.

Some of the stuff about about the early sixties blues scene echoes what you can read in, say, a Pete Townshend biography I've read. Incidentally, Richards has almost nothing to say about any of his contemporaries musically, except to some extent the Beatles. But mostly that's about how the Beatles were marketed and about the scene they created. No opinions are expressed about say Clapton, the Who, or Hendrix. But then Richards isn't into judging much, unless someone steps on his blue suede shoes (or gets to the cottage pie before he does - read the book).

Mostly the book is about the folks he meets as he navigates his way through life which was always a struggle for one reason or another until the end of the seventies when he emerges from heroin and then meets his current wife Patti.

And of course there's some fascinating stuff about Jagger. I started to skip a little towards the end as I am less interested in their later music. But this is great for Stones fans and also it's a fascinating social record. If you want to know about superstardom south London style go for it.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the way Richards mixes his own take with contributions from those closest to him, October 27, 2010
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This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
While Keith's claim that he remembers it ALL may be stretching things a bit, the fact is that he remembers an amazingly diverse amount of information. A special feature of the book? The memories of Tom Waits, Patti Hansen (Keith's wife) and others who have known him through the years. Their insights help give perspective to the book.

Along with plenty of details about the various rifts between Richards and (Mick) Jagger, there are odd little bit of info as well as quirky and fun additions- a recipe for sausages and mashed potatoes, lists of books, and authors that Richard likes. He is a voracious reader and has a massive library.

In this autobiography, Richards clearly picks what he feels is worth including, leading to some baffling omissions. Chuck Berry is clearly revered by Richards and mentioned regularly, along with plenty of others who have remained his friends or influenced him musically.He also includes recollections of women who have been involved with him (and/or with Mick Jagger) - but Richards also writes very little about Jerry Hall, a woman who had a long-term relationship with Jagger. It is as though she barely existed although I've seen clips of The Rolling Stones in various documentaries and she was clearly on the scene. On the other hand, Marianne Faithful and Patti Hansen get plenty of page time.

For those who want the scoop on police altercations and drug busts, admissions of massive drug use, info about Keith's use of heroin and how he quit using this very addictive drug, the truth about his relatively recent accident and brain injury...it is all here. Tour info, song inspirations, plenty of musical trivia...also included. At over 500 pages, this may seem lengthy to some readers but I found it well worth the time. After all, just think of the incredibly long career of The Rolling Stones! It is hard to imagine a short volume which includes information about Keith's involvement with the group as well as his private life.

While I'd recommend reading this in chronological order, each chapter contains a brief summary of events covered in that chapter, allowing readers to pick and choose among chapters, if desired.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Iconoclast and needs couple's therapy with Mick, November 6, 2010
By 
Kenneth (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
I read Keith Richard's book in two days. Just couldn't put it down. It's a fantastic portrait of an artist, a genius musician, a heroin addict, a rock star, and a true iconoclast--as well as, of course, a history of the Stones. I'm not a musician so I didn't follow all the musical tips, of which there are many, but if I ever meet Keith I'd ask him where the beautiful chords of Gimme Shelter came from. (He'd probably say "open tuning." I'd ask "What god or goddess?")

OK, the only other comment I'd make--and this doesn't take away from the book--is this. It was fun to read the Mick Jagger information. He paints Mick in a bad light, and I'm sure that Mick, genius, icon, is the egomaniac Keith says he is. If I were Mick Jagger I'd be that way too. You sense on some level this is a shout out from Keith to Mick, partly out of anger and the feeling anyone would have after working with the same mug for forty five years. But also hoping Mick hears the message "You, of all people, shouldn't end up living in a bubble." But here's the thing: in the book Keith gives a riveting portrait of himself as a heroin addict. Mick was his writing partner, band mate, best friend. Dealing with Keith in that state for 15 years or however long it was, well...how infuriating and alienating it must have been for Mick? Enough to make Mick go cold, surely. So there's definitely another side of the story... But that's the cool aspect of biography: subjective but real.

Anyway, this is a great one...
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Life
Life by Keith Richards (Hardcover - October 26, 2010)
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