by Keith Richards & James Fox
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As lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the riffs, the lyrics, and the songs that roused the world. A true and towering original, he has always walked his own path, spoken his mind, and done things his own way. Now at last, Richards pauses to tell his story in the most anticipated autobiography in decades. And what a story! Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records in a coldwater flat with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, building a sound and a band out of music they loved. Finding fame and success as a bad-boy band, only to find themselves challenged by authorities everywhere. Dropping his guitar's sixth string to create a new sound that allowed him to create immortal riffs like those in "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Falling in love with Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones's girlfriend. Arrested and imprisoned for drug possession. Tax exile in France and recording Exile on Main Street. Ever-increasing fame, isolation, and addiction, making life an ever faster frenzy. Through it all, Richards remained devoted to the music of the band, until even that was challenged by Mick Jagger's attempt at a solo career, leading to a decade of conflicts and ultimately the biggest reunion tour in history. In a voice that is uniquely and unmistakably him - part growl, part laugh - Keith Richards brings us the truest rock-and-roll life of our times, unfettered and fearless and true.
The only thing cooler than the story is to hear Johnny Depp break into his best Keith voice during the read... perfect.
I'm not a big stones fan, but thought this would be interesting. It is a well written bio, very insightful, and seemingly honest. I particularly liked the snapping turtle bit, and the recipes. Lots of talk about drugs, lots of focus on Mick and the rift twixt he and other band members. Not overtly descriptive sexually, very tasteful. The narrators were good. I sensed that Keith put much into the book, just like he does in the studio. His pretension and perfectionism is laid out honestly. I liked the bits about how he envisions music, how he met his heroes, reunited with his Dad, it was all good. It took me five days to listen to the whole book, and it didn't drag for me at all. Well done!
There’s a Sensitive Man Behind that Legend
Many of us think we know Keith Richards, and in some ways, perhaps we do. Thanks to the myths involving copious quantities of drugs, epic parties and the scores of women, Richards is the poster child for quintessential rock and roll star. But in "Life," we get a look not just behind the scenes of the Rolling Stones, but we also look behind Keith's eyes. The trip he takes us on is enlightening, emotional, and eye opening. We see Keith Richards the son, the leader, the husband and the band mate – rare perspectives, especially in the voice of the man himself.
We also come to find that Richards is a magnificent storyteller. Clearly he has some mindboggling tales to tell, but together with co-author James Fox, we see sides of Richards you might never imagine are revealed. “Life” opens with the story of Keith’s arrest in rural Arkansas in the 1970s that reads like a Marx Brothers movie.
At times the story bogs a little with details of innumerable relationships, but most annoyingly, the iTunes version switches narrators more than once. Johnny Depp is magnificent, but disappointingly and without explanation, he is replaced by Joe Hurley in chapter 6, only to return again for chapter 11. But these technical details still don't take away from a great read.
Richards explores the roots of his love for the the Mississippi Delta blues movement, describes its impact on young English boys, and talks of the genesis of so many legendary albums and #1 hit singles, all while weaving a narrative that traces the trajectory of the greatest rock and roll band in the world.
Richards is honest but fair in dealing with the powerful personalities in the Stones, especially the troubled Brian Jones and of course Mick Jagger, whom he calls a ”brother” despite the roller coaster ride they've shared. Other band mates including Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman come across as sane, even well adjusted in comparison. His own substance abuse problems are never glossed over. They're dealt with straight up and without apology or judgement. This man is clearly at peace with his past.
Richards says he remembers it all, and you’re left with no doubt that’s true. I never thought I’d describe an autobiography of Keith Richards as a funny, revealing, even an exciting page turner, but “Life” is a terrific ride as remembered by an extremely intelligent, emotionally connected, too often misunderstood artist.