Rolling Stones’ Richards shares journey through book

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4.5 out of 5 stars

Written by the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, “Life” is a memoir that candidly portrays the reality of a true rock star. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are sorely accounted on; however, the thing that remains consistent throughout the entire autobiography is Richards’ love for the rhythm and blues.

In the ultimate depiction of a rock ‘n’ roll life, Richards is candid in describing every up and down, including numerous lovers, run-ins with the police and struggles with drug addiction. While the struggles might sometimes seem repetitive, “Life” is an undeniable page-turner.

While it is quite a lengthy book — more than 500 pages — there are multiple pictures included, giving readers a VIP behind-the-scenes look into Richards’ life. Also included in the book are personal testimonies from various other people heavily involved in his life, including Ronnie Spector, Jim Dickinson and Bobby Keys, to name a few.

The book takes you almost day by day, and it is extremely influential to read the transition of Richards’ life going from an admirer of jazz and blues to gaining popularity with the Stones to getting to play with his musical heroes, including Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.

One person not included in Richards’ personal testimonies is his infamous partner in the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger. For what seems like a good portion of the book, Richards gives detail into the rise and fall of what seemed like the perfect duo in music.

If you know nothing about the band, reading this book will tell you most everything you need to know. It is filled with personal letters he saved from the beginning of his career, diary entries and, more impressive than anything else, detailed accounts of each song and guitar riff he has written.

“I wrote ‘Satisfaction’ in my sleep,” he writes. “I had no idea I’d written it, it’s only thank God for the little Philips cassette player. The miracle being that I looked at the cassette player that morning and I knew I’d put a brand-new tape in the previous night, and I saw it was at the end. Then I pushed rewind and there was ‘Satisfaction.'”

Like aforementioned, Richards’ passion for music is heavily touched on in great detail, and through each struggle it seems as though music is the thing getting him through.

As with his seeming addiction to music, Richards was also heavily addicted to drugs. Only the purest of drugs, he explained. Often, each drug he described was mentioned in passing — sometimes, downplaying the dangerous effects of heavy drug use.

“I’d never recommend it to anybody…” he wrote, but it “does have its uses,” and, “is a great leveler in many ways.”

At 66 years old, Richards has survived even the scariest of drug mishaps. His life outside of jail is in part thanks to the many lawyers who have protected him from a number of his wrong doings. Nonetheless, he has made it. He is alive to tell his story — and with “Life,” he tells it sincerely, and holds nothing back. It is an undeniably raw must-read.

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