I was a little ambivalent about reading Life by Keith Richards. Whenever I see this chap interviewed on television, he mumbles and is downright unintelligible. With this in mind, I wondered if his writing style would fare any better. After reading the first couple of pages, I breathed a sigh of relief. Mr. Richards' (aka Keef aka The Human Riff) prose was a revelation. He came across as warm, witty, and very personable. It was like spending time with an old friend.
There were actually quite a few revelations in this autobiography. Let's face it, Mr. Richards' singing voice has never been spectacular. So I was quite surprised to learn that he had been in his school choir and was such an exceptional singer that he performed at Westminster Abbey in front of Queen Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, once puberty arrived, his beautiful soprano voice departed.
But of course, my favorite revelation is his confession that he has had a secret desire to become a librarian! Who would have ever believed it? Imagine if he relinquished the crazy, hedonistic life of a rock star to become a quiet, reserved librarian? My mind spins with the possibility.
My favorite parts of the book were the stories about the early days of the Rolling Stones and the hard work and sacrifices that were made to make the group a success. It was no piece of cake as there was little pay for long hours, cold flats, and near starvation. But the Stones were serious about their music and Richards was a vital part of making them one of the greatest rock groups of all time.
The insight into some of the hit songs was illuminating. In fact, I would have liked to have read even more of that. In regards to his love life, he comes across as a gentleman, sort of. Of course, the book wouldn't have been complete if Richards didn't discuss his addiction to drugs. And does he ever, the stories are unbelievable. It is sad that someone who had been so focused on his music became so involved with drugs that the music became secondary. Richards started with the hard drugs around 1969 and didn't look back until around 1978. During that time period, his life became a series of strange episodes revolving around his world of drugs. It's amazing that he is still alive, he is truly the indestructible man.
I really did feel that after reading this book, I had gotten to know Keith Richards a lot better. His true personality, philosophy about life, motives, and values have been exposed to the world. This is truly one of the best memoirs ever written by a rock musician.