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Life Hardcover – Print, October 26, 2010
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010: It's hard to imagine a celebrity memoir--or any memoir for that matter--that is as easy to drink in (so to speak) as Keith Richards's Life. Die-hard Stones fans will love tales of the band's ascension from the "interval" band at the Marquee to the headliners at Super Bowl XL; guitar gearheads will scramble to sample the one lick that has eluded Richards for 49 years; and historians and romantics alike will swoon over the raspy, rambling, raucous detail of this portrait of the artist in situ. Yes, some tales are told, but Life is refreshingly not gossipy, mean-spirited, or sordid--or at least not more than the truth demands. Richards is as comfortable in his bones as a worn pair of boots, and Life captures the rhythm of his voice so effortlessly that reading his tale is like sharing a pint with an old friend--one who happens to be one of the most iconic guitarists of all time. --Daphne Durham
Richards, as famous for his toxic lifestyle as for his guitar mastery, presents his sprawling autobiography, ably assisted by Fox, who, as author of White Mischief (1982), has experience in chronicling hedonistic British nobility. Here Fox’s coauthor and subject is a British member of rock-music nobility with a deep and abiding commitment to hedonism. However, there are degrees of hedonism, even among pop stars. According to Richards, Willie Nelson reaches for a spliff upon awakening, whereas Keith gives it a good 10 minutes or so before inaugurating the day’s herbal festivities. As to specific goodies of Stones lore: Decca Records management, rather than mercurial Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, sacked original member Ian Stewart, thereby consigning him to road-manager status though he continued to play piano with the band live and in the studio. Oldham, who had worked for the Beatles under Brian Epstein, was the originator of immortal publicity gambits such as planting nasty tabloid headlines, but he simply ran out of ideas and was sacked, personality issues with Mick Jagger also being a contributing factor. Over the years, Richards sneaked many people back into the Stones’ orbit after they ran afoul of Jagger, saxophonist Bobby Keys and Richards’ personal manager, Jane Rose, prime among them. Chuck Berry was “a big disappointment,” not musically, of course, but as a cranky collaborator. And country-music legend George Jones, himself a Richards-level imbiber of recreational substances, impressed Keith with his immaculate pompadour, admittedly an architectural wonder. For the record, Richards stands by the story of encountering Muddy Waters, who owed the label money, painting rooms at Chess Records, though Marshall Chess denies it ever happened. On a personal level, Richards regrets whatever part he played in abetting the heroin addictions of several associates. However, he considers people to be ultimately responsible for their own actions. Cautionary words indeed, but then there’s the merchandising idea that Richards and Paul McCartney came up with: celebrity “sun-dried turds,” the specimens to be coated with shellac and decorated by “a major artist.” Richards’ (or Fox’s) writing is spare and incisive, the narrative tone rarely self-serving, which is certainly something to be celebrated in celebrity autobiography. And make no mistake: at this time in their careers, Richards and the Stones are at least as much a celebrity-news matter as a musical force. --Mike Tribby
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You get a sense of what it has been like to play in very popular rock band for a number of decades. This is almost like a history book.
Like very autobiography (or biography) you will read about the subject's childhood. That was interesting, but what I found to be the strongpoints of this book was the history of the Richards/Jagger partnership.
How they wrote songs together was detailed, and that was intriguing in itself. That and the turbulent relationship that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger share.
There was a lot of information about Brian Jones leading up to his death.
Another part of music biographies I really like is the origin of songs. "Life" didn't disappoint in that department. Keith Richards dispelled a lot of rumors about the subject of some of the Stones most popular songs. He also explained his approach to writing songs and identified some of his guitars, amps, and effects pedals.
His take on the nuances of recording was interesting also.
There is a lot of info in the book for any Rolling Stones fan.
I give this book 5 stars for being possibly the best autobiography I have read to date.
I have always loved the Rolling Stones and I could not put this book down. As for Keith, a little understanding those who put up with his antics would not go astray.
Keith's "voice" is delightful. I had no idea what he was really like. The guy is deep and he gets it, life that is.
The stories he tells like the one about driving to morocco for drugs paints such a scene for the reader as to what Keith, those around him, and the world was like. Just reading about what his freaking car was like was worth that chapter!
And the story of the stones being pulled over in Arkansas after being warned never to drive around southern states and how they got out of that mess is vividly described and will make you laugh in amazement about what goes on behind the scenes or at least what the 60's were like.
It's interesting to read about Keith and mick's relationship. And then the Canadian prime minister's wife being a stones' groupie and running around their hotel rooms. Wow.
The narrative is so rich and not a single page is slow.
I love Keith now. I am so glad he opened up and now we get to know him and the history of that time period.
I loved hearing about his parents, his schooling, how he met the stones and the Beatles and on and on.
After i read it, I got the audio book. That is a hoot, especially the part keith reads himself!
You have to read this book!