KEITH RICHARDS: Key to the Highway by Victor Bockris

KEITH RICHARDS: Key to the Highway

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A gushing Keith Richards fanzine and high-bias Rolling Stones history. Richards, Bockris tells us, was the son of a dour working-class father who told his son to ""stop that noise"" and a doting mother who listened to Keith practice in the kitchen for hours. In 1962, Richards joined the newly formed Rolling Stones; he was touring by 1963. Here, Bockris (The Life and Death of Andy Warhol, 1989, etc.) details--mainly through interviews with Richards--the guitar player's studio work, live performances, and personal life, as well as a chronicle of the band that was formed by Brian Jones. To Bockris, Jones is a virtual nonperson, and Richards--whose considerable talent as a songwriter peaked out, by his own estimation, in 1973--is the band's single, irreplaceable driving force. (By contrast, Stones bassist Bill Wyman says in Stone Alone [1990] that ""Brian was the inventor and inspiration of the Rolling Stones"" and that Richards ""screwed up the band with his drug problems for about ten years."") Much of the portrait here is a depressingly familiar canvas of addiction and denial, with Richards repeatedly arrested, burning Sown numerous estate houses by nodding off with lighted cigarettes, methodically punching out his common-law wife, Anita Pallenberg, in front of their children, delaying concerts and recording sessions for hours and days while in a stupor or trying to obtain drugs. But Bockris quotes Richards as saying, ""I've never had a problem with drugs--I've had problems with police."" And Bockris finds it all romantic: ""The drugs helped Richards understand he was living in the midst of a cultural renaissance."" Interesting, and probably choice fare for Richards fans, but hardly gospel.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Poseidon/Simon & Schuster