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Memories of a rock'n'roll life
on October 29, 2010
If there's a person out there whose life needed to be chronicled, it's Keith Richards. And you know what's really amazing? He actually remembers it, despite all those drugs. So as you could probably guess, his "Life" is an amazing read -- Richards glides through his own eventful past with grace, charm and a slightly sarcastic sense of humor.
Richards was the "choirboy to school rebel" raised in Dartford, where he began to blossom at the birth of rock'n'roll. And after some false starts in other areas, his love of music began to gel into something when he met Mick Jagger (they bonded over their shared love of American blues music), and ended up forming a band called the Rolling Stones.
You know how it goes: they became the creative heart of the Rolling Stones, who started off as a penniless little blues band and turned into the wildest rock stars of the sixties and seventies. Richards' life became wrapped up in stardom, his sensual avant-garde lover Anita Pallenberg, and a heroin addiction -- until he inevitably yanked himself back up, found new love, and survived despite the odds.
I've always had a soft spot for Keith Richards -- he's had a crazy, colorful, dramatic life full of scandal and raw talent, but by all acounts, he's a nice guy. And "Life" doesn't disprove that -- Richards is less interested in telling all than in exploring the interesting parts of his life.
His style is laid-back and contemplative, as if you were just sitting in his living room listening to the old rocker reminiscing about his life. He talks a LOT about music (creating it, listening to it, playing it), encountering fascinating people, and carefully painting portraits of the many places he's travelled to.
Richards himself seems like an unpretentious, blunt guy with a positive outlook, who freely admits his mistakes because they're in the past. He also has nice things to say about almost everybody, although some things (Brian Jones beating Anita) make him pretty mad. But he doesn't shy away from bleaker times, such as when he recounts how his son Marlon had to help him during his druggiest days.
And he has a sarcastically witty streak -- he says that he was "kind of proud" to be the #1 on death lists for ten years running. "I was really disappointed when I went down the charts. Finally dropping down to number nine. Oh my God, it's over."
If you weren't a fan of "Keef" before this, his unpretentious and fascinating "Life" might just win you over. It's a rich rollercoaster of pain, music and love.