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Life Paperback – May 3, 2011
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Johnny Depp and Joe Hurley capture Richards's rock 'n' roll spirit in a wise, charming, and textured narration of the famed guitarist's memoir. Tracing Richards's trajectory from boyhood in England through the formation of the Stones to the band's rise to world domination, this audiobook is chock-full of frank revelations and enlightening stories behind the music. The three readers do superb turns—but the seemingly arbitrary switches between them can be jarring and confusing. Depp's narration is steady, well-paced, clear, and grounded. He produces a delicious range of voices for dialogue (most notably a drunk judge in Arkansas), and Richards himself sounds a bit like an elderly, bluesy Jack Sparrow. Hurley captures the voice of Richards throughout, narrating in a gritty, growl that is spot-on. And sections read by Richards are a real treat; his raspy voice is unmistakable and haunting. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Oct.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Exhaustively covering his childhood and the early years of the band (including the Stones main "rivals" The Beatles in some sections), the only flaw of the book is a lack of details about the recording of many of the band's classic albums. I would have liked more details on Richards' songwriting collaboration with Mick Jagger although he does give us interesting tidbits (such as the fact that Mick wrote "Brown Sugar" by himself and that the duo would both work together and apart much like Lennon & McCartney did but would still credit the composition to both wriers).
Richards doesn't withhold any criticism in his biography; he can be at turns complimentary and harsh in his assessment of his peers including Mick Jagger in his discussion of his Stones partner's solo career. He also gives a pretty blunt assessment of his own struggle with drug addiction and the descent into drug addiction of band member Brian Jones. I find it incredible that Richards claims to still have no idea why Mick Taylor left the band (did he ever ask him particularly when Taylor guested on one of his solo albums?)and his recollection of a drugged out roadtrip that he and John Lennon made has never been documented anywhere else that I can recall but is a pretty interesting story.
He also discusses the writing of some key Stones songs including "As Tears Go By" (which is often incorrectly seen as being inspired by "Yesterday"--it was recorded before McCartney's ballad by Marianne Faithful although the Stones may have been inspired to record it and the arrangement of the string parts may have been influenced by the success of McCartney's ballad there's little the two have in common in terms of their structure), "(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction" and "Wild Horses" (Keith states early on that he could tell that Marianne Faithful had a hand in the writing of the lyrics as he states that many of the lyrics didn't sound like something Mick would write).
Although flawed a bit by not giving us more information about the writing/recording of many key Stones classic albums, LIFE manages to be both a candid and vivid account of Richards' charmed (and sometimes cursed)life as a celebrity and musician. Recommended.
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.