Ahh Keef , mere sobriquet’s just don’t do you justice do they?
“The world’s most elegantly wasted man”
Even his song-writing partner of 50 years and fellow Rolling Stone, the illustrious Sir Mick (or, as Keef would have it, “Brenda”) Jagger commented of this book “I thought you’d have to remember your life in order to write about it!”
Surprisingly, Keef remembers an awful lot of his life – and a lot of it is truly awful. Harrowing tales of heroin addiction and junkie life lurk around almost every turned page. Blood flows, people die – some from the drugs, some violently, and even a few from natural causes. There is much talk of the gradual falling out between him and Jagger – the self styled Glimmer Twins – and their years at each others throats. No one can deny Richards gives the punters what they want to read, pulling no punches along the way!
Despite this, the other two great loves of his life do shine through, providing the rays of light to what would otherwise be a drab tale of weakness and self indulgence.
The first is, of course, music. From The Stones, to guest appearances on other albums and singles, to his solo band The Xpensive Winos, and simply jamming with anyone who will sit still for long enough – Keef is truly, madly, deeply in love with music, and he shares much of his passion with the reader throughout “Life”.
The second is his family, who he obviously cherishes – which is not to say he was a good father during his dark 70’s period stumbling through his personal junkie hell, staying up for days at a time (nine was his record, before his body gave out and he collected some scars on the way down). The fact that his son Marlon is even alive, let alone as stable as he seems is almost a miracle after his torturous upbringing on the road with his famous junkie Dad, and squalid existence with his equally addicted mother Anita Pallenberg.
It’s a fascinating insight into the life of an extraordinary man, and an essential read, even if the last thirty years are dealt with in a perfunctory 94 pages, the other 453 focussing on his childhood, the 60’s and 70’s. The word on the streets is that it is leaping off the shelves worldwide, surely going some way to justifying Keef’s rumoured 4.4 million pound ($7.7 million Australian) advance!
What a life!