Author: Keith Richards with James Fox
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Reviewed: November, 2010
The long awaited autobiography by legendary Rolling Stone guitarist, Keith Richards, is now in stores and being devoured by fans the world over. Weighing in at 544 very readable, informative, historical pages, I was pleasantly surprised at lucidity with which “Keef” tells his story.
I know some of you will credit James Fox for making Richards easily comprehendible and that may very well be the case. However, Fox still needed a lot to work with. That said, my bet is that this is Keith “thru and thru” (Stones fans will get the pun.
The book opens with Richards’ perspective of the famous 1975 bust in Fordyce, Arkansas, cluing the reader in to the negotiations and shenanigans that took place to get him and Ronnie Wood sprung from jail. I was particularly interested in this story since Keith alluded to the event when my daughter and I caught the Stones during their tour stop in Little Rock in 2007.
The rest of the book is equally as unvarnished in telling known and unknown stories about the Stones. Stories behind the songs? Absolutely. Stories about the women in his life? Yep. How ‘bout Brian Jones’ death. A little bit. What about the legendary drug use? C’mon! We’re talking about Keef! Of course he spills the beaker on it all.
Also shared in his own way with words are war stories from the road, the studio and a myriad of places from around the world. The gossip-monger that resides in each and every one of us will especially relish the digs and barbs he reserves especially for Mick Jagger. How much of it is for show or for real, I don’t know. But it does make for some very fascinating reading.
What will be of special interest to musicians – especially guitarists – will be the various secrets to much of Richards’ guitar playing. This, along with the stories behind the songs, is where you see the world in which Keith Richards lives and breathes, deservedly giving him the reputation as being a true rock troubadour.
The tome closes with a heart touching story of some of the last moments with his mom as she lay dying. To me, the story shows me that Keef isn’t as out of it as he likes to come across. He allows the reader a peek into a very special and personal moment in his life without sharing everything. One is left with the feeling that there other things that took place between a mother and her son before she passed away.
The book left me with the impression that Keith wanted to tell everything from his perspective while, at the same time, say some things that he felt needed to be said. He clearly is seeing that there’s less of life’s road ahead of him than there is behind him. Perhaps that’s why he’s obviously no longer as concerned about his rock and roll pirate image as he places more importance on family and relationships.
Such is Life.