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4.0 out of 5 stars `I can't untie the threads of how much I played up to the part that was written for me.', Jan. 18 2011
This review is from: Life (Hardcover)
So, who is Keith Richards? A young man asked me this question when I was holding this book a week or so ago. I answered by reference to the Rolling Stones: he'd heard of them. Made me remember, though, just how long the Stones have been part of my musical life. It's been over 40 years. The Rolling Stones were formed in 1962 - almost 50 years ago. Amazing.

When I decided to read this book, I was interested in reading what Keith Richards would have to say about the public aspects of his life as both a talented musician and a drug addict. I was also interested in his view of the successes and excesses of the Rolling Stones. But mostly, I wanted to see something of the man behind the legend.

It's an interesting read: the first part is personal history; the second part is public legend; and the final part is where a more mellow (it's a relative term) Keith Richards exists. Keith Richards has survived the excesses of his past, and his memoir is peopled with many who did not. Some of the legends (curing his heroin addiction through a blood transfusion in Switzerland, and snorting his father's ashes) are explained and can be dismissed. Others - the detailed substance abuse - serve to underline how fortunate Richards was to survive.

Three aspects of the book stand out for me: the historical account of a rock and roll world of excess (in which women were `chicks' or `bitches'); the details of the music Richards made, and those musical heroes who inspired him; and his relationship with Mick Jagger. The historical account is in many ways not new: others have written about the Stones and memoirs of excess are neither new nor uncommon. It's Keith Richards's writing about his musical influences and the process of writing songs and making music, though, which makes this memoir most interesting.

`Life' is worth reading. Not just for fans of the Rolling Stones and those who wondered how Keith Richards has managed to survive, but also for those who are interested in the history of rock and roll music and culture.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Location: ACT, Australia

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