Sunday, February 12, 2012


I have been a fan of the Rolling Stones for many years.  I like their music, especially their music from the 1960's and 1970's.  In fact, when they came through the fine city I live in several years ago and played two concerts, I went to both of the concerts.  I figured I needed to make up for all of their concerts that I hadn't been able to attend over the years.  

I recently received Keith Richards book 'Life'.  Of course he has had an interesting life and has dealt with various addictions and an overabundance of alcohol and drugs.  What has been impressive is Keith's narratives on music, how jazz, the blues and Motown shaped the music of the Rolling Stones and other bands that started in the 1960's.  He provides a perspective of travelling in the southern U.S. in the 1960's.  If you have ever played a guitar (I haven't) you will enjoy the descriptive on how Keith learned to play guitar, learning to play cords differently and how some of the sounds were created for a number of their hit records.  He also provides background on the development of some of their songs, how the lyrics were developed, what ideas or situations were occurring that provided that gem of an idea for a song.  Keith writes about Mick Jagger including how well Mick can write words in creating a song.  Details are provided on producing the Sticky Fingers album.  I still have that album stored in a box with others and remember it had an actual zipper on the album cover.  Other interesting stories include how they were managed and ownership of the publishing right for their songs and forming their own record label. 

Keith also spends time describing his addictions to heroin and other drugs.  His upcoming trial in Toronto in 1978 was the tipping point for him.  He was worried about being jailed and didn't want to go cold turkey in prison and secondly, his life was revolving around when he could get a fix related to where he was touring with the band.  His addictions were controlling his life.  He did not get jailed but instead had to perform a free concert in Toronto for the blind.  There is a story as to why the judge decided on that particular sentence. 

The book is written in a very open and honest dialogue and he doesn't gloss over the events he writes about.  He tells the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have enjoyed reading this book and have gained an appreciation of the person behind the face of Keith Richards.

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