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KEITH RICHARDS by Victor Bockris


Key to the Highway

by Victor Bockris

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-70061-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 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 down 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. (B&w photographs--not seen.)