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Life
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on April 20, 2011
An engaging book that covers the highs and lows (pun intended) of Keith Richard's life from childhood to current events. While the middle section covering his junkie years feels a bit sordid, the rest of the book is an engrossing tale told in his unique voice.

The book starts off with a bang as he talks about his childhood which could have come from a Dickens novel - replete with beatings, poverty, sadistic schools, and grimy city streets, all told with nary a hint of self-pity. Other highlights in the book are whenever he delves deep into musical concepts. It's obvious how much he loves music, and it's fascinating to read about how he figured out guitar riffs, how he used feedback from a cassette recorder to come up with the sound for "Gimme Shelter" and other songs, and why he played with a five string guitar. He provides too much detail about his junkie years, slowing the book down, but things get interesting again in the 1980s and 90s section of the book. The book ends on an almost whimsical note as Richards talks about everything from Paul McCartney visits to cooking bangers (for which he includes a recipe).
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on February 7, 2012
If you think you might be shocked by the idea that Keith Richards was a junkie, drank himself stupid, slept with gobs of women and generally raised hell for most of his life, this is not the read you want. If you don't already know those things (and how would you not, exactly?), this might not be your thing. However, do not miss it if you think all of that's pretty interesting AND you want to experience one of the best memoirs ever written by a musician. Bonus: it's written by a member of one of the most important and long-lived rock and roll bands in history, and that's a very short list. Keith Richards happens to be both intelligent and raunchy, and articulate in a somewhat disorganized and sometimes cryptic way. That makes for a damned interesting person. His grasp of the mechanics and the nuances of musicianship is impressive. His tales of the road and who he's jammed with are beyond compare. You'll relish his take on Mick Jagger, who comes off as...well, you'll see.

Oh, just read it. This big, fat book is a treat - and just look at that cover photo! You've gotta have something like that around!
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on May 12, 2011
A very entertaining and informative tale. If you're a Rolling Stones fan, it's fantastic, and even if you're not, it's still very good. Very impressive after all the dope that he remembers innumerable things about his childhood and early years. Though I'm not a musician, his details on how he tuned his guitar to get his very unique and unmistakable sound, how he and Charlie Watts were in a groove on rhythm, and how he and Mick Jagger on occasion pumped out an entire album in a week are all truly fascinating. It's also interesting how many hit songs the two of them wrote that they gave to other artists - country, pop, soul - that the Stones never did themselves.
The first hundred pages are tedious, but by the time he forms the band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, the book takes on it's own quick pace with great detail. You truly feel like you're with him on the journey. In a weird sort of way, it's similar in style to William F. Buckley's sailing biographies (e.g. "Atlantic High", "Airborn"), and with the short insights from friends and relatives embedded in the book, it comes alive.
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This book does the job on all counts. Keith discusses everything: His life, his family, his women, the Stones, their songs, Mick, his relations with him, you name it. It fulfills on all counts. If anything I would have liked a bit more thorough discussion of the "peak" Stones, from '68 -'72. He doesn't really address the music of that period in meticulous detail. For example, I know from interviews Keith has done that he played not only the lead guitar but also bass on "Sympathy for the Devil." Keith was also the only - repeat, ONLY - guitar player on "Beggars Banquet," Brian Jones did not play a single note. Jimmy Miller (the producer of the "peak" Stones) said that. Keith mentions Jimmy Miller, but not in that great of detail. Why did they select him? Why did they pick the songs they did to go on the "peak" albums, etc.? Keith mentions why Jimmy Miller was fired (dope) also, but could have addressed it in greater detail. He could have discussed Mick Taylor more thoroughly too. Oh well. I still love ya, Keith!

This is a great book. I'm glad I bought it and you will too.
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on November 22, 2010
Didn't know I was ingesting the Stones all these years until I read this as a lark, was prepared to put it down and pass it off. Couldn't. Heard every tune in my head as he catalogs them and I never bought one of them. Apparent now why Muddy Waters sounded so familiar when I got into him in the 90's. He gives big props to those who went before him and I sense a true love for "the sound" and not the individual so-called star. I sense truth here, although there is a period during his worse smack addiction that seems a little light in history, but given his self admitted state, no wonder.

Can't believe I am recommending this, being right leaning and all. More libertarian. And the Richards better be a member of the NRA after all that talking smack about carrying...literally.

And while some might not like the ending; the recipes--not for the open G tuning but the banger/mash and Shepard's pie--how fun would it be to throw down with Bobby Flay on the pie recipe. Ha, Richards just might be normal. To me that is an accomplishment. The music is the triumph.
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on August 15, 2013
Keith Richards' "Life" is a crazy chronicle of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. Mostly drugs, actually.

The book gives an inside look at life on and off the road with the Rolling Stones, starting before the beginning of the band and continuing through to the present day (or at least until the book was published in 2011).

At times it reads like someone turned on a tape recorder and just transcribed Keith's stories of the band, the music, the groupies (including the wife of the Prime Minister of Canada), the drugs, the drug busts, and power struggles with Mick Jagger. It's often very stream-of-consciousness and, at nearly 550 pages, could have been edited quite a bit more tightly. But hey, Keith's a songwriter not a novelist.

It's a fun read if you don't mind details about his coke and heroin use.

I've loved the Stones for decades and found myself pulling out my old vinyl to get a new perspective on the songs I grew up with.

If you're a Stones fan it's sure to provide insight into the greatest rock band in history.
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The advance press on Keith Richards' bio was that it contained little more than catty comments about Mick Jagger. I am so glad I disregarded these superfluous reviews, because this book is one "effing" good read. I use that term because Richards does it with astounding frequency. His recipe for bangers and mash, one of the funniest things in the book, would make Fannie Farmer's hair stand on end.

As previous reviewers have stated, I am amazed at Richards' recall of the most minute events. Recollections from his colleagues and family members only enrich an already comprehensive autobiography. I would have liked to have learned more about the Stones during the late 1970s and early 1980s. I could have done with a bit less on the drug abuse, but this content is prevalent; it was a huge component of Richards' lifestyle, and it was probably cathartic for him to write about his ultimate survival.

Throughout the Stones' history, so much of the focus has been on the staggeringly charismatic Mick Jagger. It's about time that Richards has shared his life with us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2014
Funny, sweet and brutally honest life stories from a living legend. More lives than an x men character and a born raconteur. Please write more Keith !
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on December 23, 2010
I've been a fan of the Rolling Stones for over 40 years now and reading Keith's book allows a new insight.
Since completing this book I've had a resurgence in listening to the old Stones tunes with a fresh perspective.
A book that can inspire me to listen and enjoy tunes that I've heard hundreds if not thousands of times and fully enjoy with focus on different sounds,meanings, etc is truly deserving of my 5 stars.

The book is not only about the Stones, but is really about Keith's "Life", the Stones play an understandably major part.
Keith describes his childhood,influences,his friends, lovers, children, etc.
It really takes the reader out of the Keith Richards caricature and provides a human being, and deconstructs the various outrageous rumors.
The presentation was full of experiences,humor, third party stories, letters, and emotion- I literally cringed at his depictions of drug use and addiction.As an added bonus for the musicians in us, there ia wealth of tips re: guitar playing and songwriting.
"Life" by Keith Richards is highly recommended.
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on July 13, 2013
I was amazed by Keith's lucidity after what he's been through. The book, while interesting, droned on- one day he's working with so and so, next day he's with another bunch- but everyday he's getting high. After a while there is more concern as to where the drugs are coming from then getting to work with the music. There were times when I wished I could just reach in and strangle him, exposing his son Marlon, who at 7 years old goes on tour with the Stones with his dad- still doing drugs. Cold turkey here, cold turkey there they still don't learn and these stories get tiring after a few episodes.
Interesting, even to me as a drummer, were the explanations of the open chord tuning of his instruments and lack of the lowest string on the guitar. Without that, nobody's going to be able to copy his sound on a regularly tuned instrument.
At 500+ pages of his life- it depressed me and I wanted the book to end, but I kept on reading to the end. The cover picture really says it all. Good, bad depressing, surprising in some ways- that's his life.
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