Reviews for Life


Booklist Reviews 2011 January #1
Richards, as famous for his toxic lifestyle as for his guitar mastery, presents his sprawling autobiography, ably assisted by Fox, who, as author of White Mischief (1982), has experience in chronicling hedonistic British nobility. Here Fox's coauthor and subject is a British member of rock-music nobility with a deep and abiding commitment to hedonism. However, there are degrees of hedonism, even among pop stars. According to Richards, Willie Nelson reaches for a spliff upon awakening, whereas Keith gives it a good 10 minutes or so before inaugurating the day's herbal festivities. As to specific goodies of Stones lore: Decca Records management, rather than mercurial Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, sacked original member Ian Stewart, thereby consigning him to road-manager status though he continued to play piano with the band live and in the studio. Oldham, who had worked for the Beatles under Brian Epstein, was the originator of immortal publicity gambits such as planting nasty tabloid headlines, but he simply ran out of ideas and was sacked, personality issues with Mick Jagger also being a contributing factor. Over the years, Richards sneaked many people back into the Stones' orbit after they ran afoul of Jagger, saxophonist Bobby Keys and Richards' personal manager, Jane Rose, prime among them. Chuck Berry was "a big disappointment," not musically, of course, but as a cranky collaborator. And country-music legend George Jones, himself a Richards-level imbiber of recreational substances, impressed Keith with his immaculate pompadour, admittedly an architectural wonder. For the record, Richards stands by the story of encountering Muddy Waters, who owed the label money, painting rooms at Chess Records, though Marshall Chess denies it ever happened. On a personal level, Richards regrets whatever part he played in abetting the heroin addictions of several associates. However, he considers people to be ultimately responsible for their own actions. Cautionary words indeed, but then there's the merchandising idea that Richards and Paul McCartney came up with: celebrity "sun-dried turds," the specimens to be coated with shellac and decorated by "a major artist." Richards' (or Fox's) writing is spare and incisive, the narrative tone rarely self-serving, which is certainly something to be celebrated in celebrity autobiography. And make no mistake: at this time in their careers, Richards and the Stones are at least as much a celebrity-news matter as a musical force. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2010 December #1

The dread pirate Richards, scourge of straight society and rock icon, bares all—including a fang or two.

The Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist—and, we learn, principal songwriter—Richards has already set tongues wagging, giant red ones or otherwise, with leaked bits and pieces of his memoir, most notably the extensive, extremely bitchy complaints about Mick Jagger. "I used to love to hang with Mick," he writes, "but I haven't gone to his dressing room in, I don't think, twenty years. Sometimes I miss my friend. Where the hell did he go?" His fellow Glimmer Twin may not miss him so much upon learning Richards's assessment of his soul (and genitalia). He also tears down another Mick, this one Mick Taylor, former Stones guitarist, who left the band without Keith's permission: "You can leave in a coffin or with dispensations for long service, but otherwise you can't." Others receive gentler treatment, among them Gram Parsons, Rolling Stones heart and soul Ian Stewart and keyboard wizard Billy Preston (who, we learn, "was gay at a time when nobody could be openly gay"). Surveying the living and the dead, Richards admits the improbability of his own survival, though, he notes, most of his excessive behavior is now many decades past. He is much calmer now, particularly after having undergone brain surgery a few years ago. Which does not mean he's surrendering—part of the joy of this altogether enjoyable, if sometimes mean-spirited, book is the damn-the-torpedoes take on things. Indeed, when he's not slagging or praising, Richards provides useful life pointers, from how to keep several packs of dogs in different places to the virtues of open guitar tunings. He even turns in a creditable recipe for bangers and mash, complete with a pointed tale that speaks to why you would not want to make off with his spring onions while he's in the middle of cooking.

"A jury of my peers would be Jimmy Page, a conglomeration of musicians, guys that have been on the road and know what's what," Richards growls. Let no mere mortal judge him, then, but merely admire both his well-written pages and his stamina.

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2010 June #2
Now, there's a simple title. The last word on Rolling Stones guitarist/songwriter Richards from the man himself. You bet that there are fans out there waiting for this. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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