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Showing 1-10 of 47 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
I'm not a reader of memoirs or biographies, and I'm not a big Rolling Stones fan, so if it weren't for my book club, I would never ever have picked this up. And I think you need to be either a memoir or Stones fan in order to make this 550-page slog worth your while. The issue that always comes up for me when it comes to memoirs is: to what extent are you reacting to the book, and to what extent are you reacting to the life that is the subject of the book? To me, the two seem to be inextricably married and hard to separate.

So, to the extent it's possible to separate them, I found the parts of the book where Richards focuses on the music fairly engaging and insightful. The book is especially strong in the first third, as he details how his family nurtured his interest in music,and how his love of American blues music brought him into contact with all these other people with a similar interest. His account of meeting Mick Jagger on a train station and ogling his record collection is great. And to a certain extent, his accounts of how songs were crafted is pretty interesting (although, I've been told these don't always align with what others present at the creation have recounted). However, I imagine that even these portions will be much more interesting to my friends who play instruments and are in bands than they are to me.

As for the rest of it... well, it just struck me as a fairly typical rock star candid tell-all, replete with all the snide carping and self-mythologizing that comes with the territory. Not to mention, rife with contradictions: drugs never affected me (except when they did), I never pursued women (or rather, "bitches" as he charmingly calls them in much of the book), or kept tallies of my conquests (except when I proceed to name numbers of them), isn't Mick a jerk for moving in on his bandmate's women (unlike me, who stole Anita Pallenberg from Brian Jones), Mick's side project music in the '90s sucked (unlike my awesome band The X-Pensive Winos -- what do you mean you never heard of us?) and on and on and on in endless self-justifications. And that doesn't start to delve into his largely absentee parenting, including not coming back from tour when his infant son dies from SIDS, and then admitting he has no idea where (or whether) the baby was buried -- while making oblique references of blame toward Pallenberg. Race is a whole separate topic for consideration, as he twice appoints himself an honorary black person in describing his brotherhood with poor, southern black people, and later, Rastafarians. And his whole portrayal of himself as some kind of outlaw fighting against authority is pretty pathetic.

So, don't get me wrong, I like the Stones just fine up until about 1970. Their music in the 1970s has some moments, and I can see why others like so much of it, it's just not for me. But what's somewhat ironic is that in the last 30 years, they've been able to build their corporate brand and infrastructure into a hugely profitable machine, while at the same time producing absolutely no noteworthy new music. Richards has been happy to ride that wave of fame and fortune, and more power to him I guess, but that doesn't make his life story worth spending several hours of one's life reading.
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on January 28, 2011
'Life' by Keith Richards-(I admit that I skip around some here, but if I had written the review I wanted to it would have been pages long.)

If I had written this review when had I just gotten past his horrible treatment of Brian Jones, stealing his girlfriend and then tossing him out of the band that he, Brian, put together it would have been a complete slash job. Even now, after slogging through 500 & some odd pages I have to say that Mr. Richards sounds like, at best, a nerdy spoiled twit who got lucky and at worst a man so consumed by fame that he truly believes that he is world class guitar player and the best thing to come along since sliced bread, but it just doesn't hold up.

There are constant inconsistancies and contradictions. On one hand while on tour all Mick and Keith do is belittle and make fun of Brain who, even Keith wrote was an insecure man. Nice way to build his confidence, what a guy.Then he goes on to say that they had some time off and it was only natural to visit Brian and I have to ask,why? By his own admission he hated Brian, the only thing he liked about him was Anita. Persoanlly I think both Keith and Mick were threatened by his musical prowess and wanted him kept in his place until they could get rid of him.He doesn't get into how they decided to toss him, which was to tell him that because of his drug bust he couldn't tour and he goes on & on about what bad shape Brian was in, so why didn't he try and help? Putz.
So, he was out. But what about Keith's busts, espcially in Toronto, he had *everyone* behind him, including Mick-what did they do for Brian, nothng and for that alone I think of him as a very small man-in every way.He doesn't even acknowledge that it was his celebrity that kept him out of jail when the average guy would have done 3 to 5 or more for the charges he had around his neck and later calls himself a felon, not apologizing, but again, bragging. With all that bragging it's a good thing he didn't go to jail, I doubt he would have survived.

IMHO they havn't done an album that was worth listening to all the way through since "Some Girls". They are a circus playing their old hits and throwing in some new crap that no one really wants to hear.I ask you, what grown men give themselves a nick name? 'The Glimmer Twins' It's perfect for them now because all that is left is a glimmer of their former glory. Maybe it's time for them to hang up the open mouth/lapping tounge.

As Keith said himself,"How can I stop when I've started" 'Well you just stop' " and they should.

He did have some truthful things to say about quitting dope.You do feel like you are steping out of some elite cool status. It is hard to step back into society and I give him big points for doing this and doing it well. I know it isn't easy.

Still, all things taken into account, gun, knives, chasing a kid through his daughters wedding-he has painted a portrait of man who is in many ways like Narcissus, drowning in his own reflection. I suppose it could be seen as a ommentary of what fame did to a man that Lady Luck should have passed over.
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on August 9, 2012
My general aversion to memoirs would have prevented me from reading Richards' but my husband gave it to me last Christmas. I found the first 200 pages quite engaging. Richards' earliest memories of the post-war England of his childhood are of bomb craters and ration books, features of wartime deprivation that remained until the mid-50s. He describes a rambunctious childhood -- lots of ramming around on bicycles -- and typical early education -- a bully who is eventually bested and a 3R regimen that ignores huge swaths of human potential. His brief love of school coincided with his membership in a choir that took a lot of prizes, one he was booted from when his voice broke. He credits one teacher for steering him into art school, where he took up the guitar, the first step toward legend as the composer of the Rolling Stones' most amazing riffs. And it's the early days of the Stones which held the most interest for me. How from the first their marketing was carefully counter to the goody-goody image of the Beatles. How the Stones and the Beatles scheduled their releases so their new singles wouldn't hit at the same time. How their earliest gigs were revue shows which had them on stage three times a day for 10 or 15 minutes in three different towns. How they debuted in a music scene dominated by croon-tunes from the Everly Brothers and Beach Boys as the rawest part of a teen tide that simply swept those crooners away. Richards' recapitulation of the history of that amazing teen tide, which swept the entire western world, is definitely worth reading, worthy of three stars. The rest -- not so much. Richards' descent into heroin addiction turned him into a truly pathetic parent and the junkie story of getting hooking, finding the smack, eluding convictions, etc., offers no new insights into that misfortune. In fact, Richards never explains why he became a junkie and evades even asking himself the question. Why is a question he evades most of the time. Why his penchant for partners who are arm candy, even while he snickers at other rock-star cliches? Why he fell in love with the two women who bore his children? The last 350 pages are pretty tedious -- junkie tales, detailed explanations of chords in some of the later Stones' songs, gossip about Jagger and dish on their disagreements, yadda, yadda, yadda -- and typical of celebrity memoirs. That bit earns -- barely -- a one-star from me.
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on January 6, 2014
I love reading biographies and I make it a habit to read biographies/autobiographies of people I may not have much interest in or even have a dislike for as reading their stories makes me (usually) more sympathetic to them.
This didn't happen with "Life."
The book starts out interestingly enough with Richards writing (or was this the transcription of a very long interview? It certainly reads that way.) about growing up in London. Good enough. From there on, it became one long and tedious journal of a lowlife junkie's love affair with hard drugs. Occasionally, Keith talks about how he wrote some of the greatest songs and riffs in rock music. But most of the time, this book is about scoring drugs, getting stoned, and escaping from the law. Sorry, Keith, but your story is about as interesting as listening to the confessions at an alcoholics anonymous meeting. You've heard one junkie's story and you've heard them all. Richards lives(d) for drugs and music - and it's a sleazy, unclean, unwholesome tale of human self-degradation and self-indulgence. If it weren't for his musicianship, he would be a complete waste of human breath. Nothing to see here, move on.
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on August 24, 2011
I did not expect much from Keith Richards' autobiography and that it what he delivered. He seems to have never been at fault, not ever. I thought that he might come clean about the uncredited contributions of various players, most notably to me Ry Cooder, but no. He tosses off his creation of John Phillips heroin addiction with an offhand dismissal of how fast Phillips became fully addicted. Never a thought to the well documented carnage within that family. And all this pathetic blather about his "guitar weaving" with Ron Wood. Spare me please. I saw the Stone for the last time in Fort Collins CO in 1975 and the guitar playing was god-awful. Even though I had been fan since the beginning (I remember that first American TV appearance on WPIX on Clay Cole's show) but the crap they produced that long hot day was the end for me. I have thought that when they replaced Mick Taylor with Ron Wood was when The Glimmer Twins showed their true commitment to the money, rather than the music. I guess that when you are sufficiently out of it, then pointless guitar noodling seems to be brilliant interplay. I read it for the account of the earliest days and much of that was informative.After that, the L(ead) G(uitarist) S(yndrome) take over. This wasn't as bad as reading the self-published disaster of a novel that an acquaintance gave me years ago. But that was free.
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on August 24, 2012
If you are a musician, this book is for you. If you are a fan, it is okay. Reading about the drug busts and putting things in chronological order of them is okay. I just found this book hard to get through, and not a page turner.
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on August 30, 2014
Read the one and two-star reviews; I'm in agreement. No need to repeat.

There is some interesting information but most of the book is self-indulgent babble. Richards wrote some great stuff but he's really not that good of a guitar player and his story is just one of a lucky guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time and got rich enough to insulate himself from a lot of the consequences of his behavior and managed not to OD. I see nothing to admire about Richards aside from some good tunes written a long time ago. He's a shallow, self-centered junky who thinks he's much more.

Borrow it from the library if you really feel compelled but don't waste your money. I got my copy as a gift and reading it confirmed my expectations.
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on April 28, 2016
I listened and read this book of an era and a group that I know well. Johnny Depp made the voice of Richards really fun. Unfortunately, the book was slow moving, and either needed about 50 pages cut, or far more interesting stories about the personalities of the day.
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on August 31, 2014
I can't believe a book about Keith Richard's life could be so boring. Usually, I read all the reviews before purchasing. I won't make that mistake again. At least I bought it used. It still wasn't worth the postage.
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on October 25, 2011
This is actually pretty close to Lemmy Kilmister's bio - great beginning up to the middle, most likely the parts that are more closely written with the artist and then a quick finito by the ghost writer..."eh, you finish it any way you like it" type of deal.

The early childhood up to rise in stardom of the Stones is well documented, with quite a few anecdotes and interesting stories. Keith talks about his family and the really interesting relationship with his dad but towards the middle up to the end of the book the stories can be summarized (pick at random):
1) nailed such and such model/starlet/other band member's spouse/girl
2) had a row/divorced such and such model/starlet/other band member's spouse/girl
3) did drugs
4) tried to quit drugs

I wish there was more beef about the music or at least an even balance of it.
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