Book Review: Life by Keith Richards with James Fox

AuthorKeith Richards with James Fox
Publication Info: Hachette Audio (2010)
ISBN: 1600242405
Summary/Review:  I generally shy away from celebrity autobiographies but with the audiobook read by Johnny Depp and Richards himself, I had to give it a listen.  I figured that Richards would be a good storyteller and was not disappointed.  At its best, Life allows Richards to talk about the music he loves, the creative process, and songwriting which is all very insightful.  He also talks about musicians he loves such as saxophonist Bobby Keys and singer-songwriter Gram Parsons.  Richards can also be very catty.  More than 40 years after Brian Jones death, Richards does not let bygones be bygones and is very dismissive of his former bandmate.  On the other hand, Bill Wyman is virtually ignored.  Most of his venom is reserved for Mick Jagger, although it’s a brotherly kind of hate, and frankly Mick deserves it.  The book reflects the career arc of the Rolling Stones in that the best parts are at the beginning depicting Richards’ early life, the formation of the stones, their rise to fame, and their greatest artistic successes in the late 60s and early 70s.  The middle part of the book is bogged down by endless stories of drugs and excess as well as Richards’ legal battles.  The final part of the book is more of a hodgepodge with some humorous anecdotes and a few moments where the reader feels the triumph of 50 years of the Stones, but at the same time one is left mostly wondering why this is still going on.  I think the audiobook narration really helps make this book, so I expect it would not be as good to read in print.

Rating: **