When you’ve had the kind of life that Keith Richards has had, you can definitely get away with calling your autobiography Life. Spanning the better part of half a century it takes in his upbringing in Dartford, the formation and development of the Rolling Stones, their rise to superstardom in the sixties and the uppers and downers of life on the road.
Written with the help of journalist James Fox, Life is not quite tell-all, but there’s not much that goes left untouched. From the copious drug taking, addiction and eventual clean up job inspired by his assistant in his home in up-state New York, to his relationships with his current wife Patti, previous, long time love Anita Pallenberg and the ongoing saga of him and Mick, it’s a book that captures the story of rock and roll to perfection.
Dark days, like the death of Brian Jones and the violence at the Altamonte speedway track are kind of flashed through at pace, but then he’s got a lot of things to go through and the book still finished up at over 500 pages.
It’s interesting to get the inside story on Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones, but it’s like they say, you should never meet your idols and reading Life you get to see all that was crap as well as the good stuff. The talk of guns and knifes like they’re revered objects is pathetic and the obsession with his own glorious legacy is sad to read in print. Especially when written in his own hand.
However, where he really shines is when he’s writing about music, and for a musician there’s not much better thing to say. In terms of an insight into what makes music good, what life on tour is like, the song writing process, thoughts on recording and keeping a band together Keith Richards’ autobiography is class.
There’s also a long sweep of history that’s documented in little chunks throughout the book that produces a great timescale of musical development. While Life gives you the rough with the smooth, it’s rarely dull to read and more than likely even less dull to live. It’s just a shame he couldn’t have done it without acting flash with knife skills and gun love.
Keith Richards, Life review: 3.7/5