Having just finishing reading Keith Richards' autobiography, I have no doubt that he, and not Mick Jagger, deserves to be a Knight of the British Empire.
For Millennials who may not recognize the name, Keith Richards is lead guitarist, co-founder and, as the book reveals, almost always the number one idea man driving the 'world's greatest rock and roll band', The Rolling Stones.
Written in an e e cummings stream of consciousness style, Keith's book is called 'Life'. And, trust me, it's as jagged, ragged and engrossing as the Stones themselves.
'Life' is a treasure trove of fascinating facts, figures and background stories that told me many, many things I never knew about one of my favorite groups.
For example, do you know the answers to these questions:
- Linda Keith was Richards' first true love. She dumped him while he was touring in America to take up with Jimi Hendrix instead. What song did his subsequent heartache drive Keith to write?
- Who inspired Keith and Mick to write 'Jumpin Jack Flash'?
- What event that occurred right outside Keith's London flat produced 'Gimme Shelter'?
- Who were Keith and Mick mad at when they wrote 'Get Off of my Cloud'?
- What city's 1968 riots inspired Keith to compose 'Street Fighting Man'?
- Who was 'Sister Morphine'?
- Whose outrageous stage act and patronizing treatment of his band mates inspired Mick to follow suit (which, in turn, caused the media to incorrectly nickname the group 'Mick & the Boys')?
- Who was Keith thinking about when he wrote 'Wild Horses'?
As you might expect, the book also cites chapter and verse on Keith's never-ending battles with heroin, cocaine, the law, and legions of redneck hooligans who constantly tried picking fights with one of the world's best known rockers.
Life is also a raw, kiss-and-tell tome that simultaneously praises and buries Keith's alter ego, Sir Mick Jagger.
What finally comes through the purple haze (which, FYI, was the nickname for a high grade form of heroin) IS this: Keith is the heart and soul of the Stones. To wit:
- Keith's the guy who covered for Brian Jones for two years as the group's second guitarist descended into a world of madness and eventual suicide.
- Keith's the guy who kept the group together while Sir Mick went MIA for months at a time to chill with his latest lady friend and/or intimate circle of beautiful people.
- And, it was Keith's shoulder on which all those women whose hearts were broken by Sir Mick over the years cried their hearts out and asked, “What should I do?” As Keith tells you, he always responded by saying, “How the f*ck should I know? You're the one who's sleeping with him. Not me.”
With 'Life,' it seems Keith finally did what HE wanted to do. He wrote the best rock and roll book this blogger's ever read. I just hope it gives the guitarist some satisfaction after all these years. Because, if even half of 'Life' is accurate, Keith Richards was unquestionably the band's 'Beast of Burden' and he sure deserves a whole lot more recognition (and satisfaction).