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KEITH by Stanley Booth

KEITH

Standing in the Shadows

By Stanley Booth

Pub Date: March 28th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11841-4
Publisher: St. Martin's

 A prose meditation on Rolling Stone Keith Richards by a man who entered the Stones' inner sanctum as a journalist in the late '60s and subsequently became the guitarist's friend and confidante. Booth (The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones, 1985) may be too close to his subject to present a totally objective view, but for the most part he manages to keep his story free from puffery. As he (re)traces the Stones' more-than-30-year career, Booth quotes Richards on everything from music and drug addiction to fatherhood and fame. Stones fans will be familiar with much of the historical material here (the big '67 drug bust, crowd ugliness and a killing at Altamont, Keith's narrow escape from a lengthy Canadian prison sentence in the late '70s), but Booth's breezy style and dry wit often put a fresh spin on things, as when he opts not to detail the hedonism of the Stones' 1972 American tour, drolly noting, ``Once you've seen sufficient fettucine on flocked velvet, hot urine pooling on deep carpets, and tidal waves of spewing sex organs, they seem to run together. So to speak.'' But while he is right to avoid a blow-by-blow (so to speak) description of a Stones orgy, Booth gives overly short shrift to the subject of drugs. Granted, he does a good job of chronicling Richards's well-documented romance with heroin, but he fails to adequately answer the question of when and how the guitarist--certainly rock's most notorious junkie--finally overcame his addiction. Since Booth is a self- admitted former heroin user whose own misadventures with the drug roughly parallel those of Richards, such an omission is both puzzling and disappointing. Still, a welcome addition to the growing library of Stones- related tomes. (10 pages b&w photos, not seen)