Why does Keith want to undercut his legend? Because he has much better stories to tell. And in Life, the 547-page memoir he wrote with James Fox, he serves them up like his guitar riffsin your face, nasty, confrontational, rich, smart, and, in the end, unforgettable....His story slows as it approaches the present, and you start to wonder if this Peter Pan life can get to its end without real pain. And you think, well, there's another side to this -- if Mick started writing tonight, he could have his book out before he's 70. But mostly, you wish you could go back to the beginning of Life and start again.
After half a century on the road, Richards has the face he deservesbut not, it appears, the brain. Against all pharmaceutical odds, he has held on to a substantial portion of his own history and has turned it into the most scabrously honest and essential rock memoir in a long time…In some cases, Richards's memories are supplemented by others; on every page, they are shaped by co-writer James Fox. But the voice that emerges is unmistakably the dark lord's: growly and profane and black with comedy. And, for all that, surprisingly charming…
The Washington Post
The most impressive part of Life is the wealth of knowledge Keith shares, whether he's telling you how to layer an acoustic guitar until it sounds electric…or how to win a knife fight. He delivers recipe after recipe for everything rock 'n' roll, and let me say it's quite an education…James Fox, Keith's co-author, deserves a lot of credit for editing, organizing and elegantly stepping out of the way of Keith's remembrances. Reading Life is like getting to corner Keith Richards in a room and ask him everything you ever wanted to know about the Rolling Stones, and have him be completely honest with you.
The New York Times Book Review
The publisher's bio of the author reads, "Keith Richards was born in England in 1943 and founded the Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger in 1962. He lives in Connecticut." In the tersely-titled Life, Keith himself fills in all the tantalizing gaps in that précis. That this long-discussed autobiography has been wildly anticipated should surprise no serious rock watcher: Over the decades, Richards' life, lifestyle, and relationships with other band members have spawned proliferating rumors. The archetypal exile on Main Street finally speaks his mind. Sometimes you can get what you want. A Barnes & Noble Bestseller now in a paperback and NOOKbook.
Johnny Depp and Joe Hurley capture Richards's rock 'n' roll spirit in a wise, charming, and textured narration of the famed guitarist's memoir. Tracing Richards's trajectory from boyhood in England through the formation of the Stones to the band's rise to world domination, this audiobook is chock-full of frank revelations and enlightening stories behind the music. The three readers do superb turns—but the seemingly arbitrary switches between them can be jarring and confusing. Depp's narration is steady, well-paced, clear, and grounded. He produces a delicious range of voices for dialogue (most notably a drunk judge in Arkansas), and Richards himself sounds a bit like an elderly, bluesy Jack Sparrow. Hurley captures the voice of Richards throughout, narrating in a gritty, growl that is spot-on. And sections read by Richards are a real treat; his raspy voice is unmistakable and haunting. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Oct.)
This reviewer came of age wondering if Richards was even born innocent. Soon after cracking the spine of his deservedly lauded memoirs, there is an answer (yes!), and although the Rolling Stones guitarist made great haste toward his iconic junkiedom, he lived much life to the marrow before and after. Readers need not read so much as listen—Richards recounts the choicest milestones in a voice that is so evocative of his many sides, you will hear every sigh, howl, growl, and snicker. Prepare as well to be surprised: the tales of excess do not include groupie collecting. Richards was and is a one-woman man, and when he's plunging us into the darkest years of his addiction, revolt will surface in tidal waves but also understanding. Richards explains better than any rock star of his generation that the drug taking was not for escaping pain but relishing every rarefied moment of his artistic prime. He and soul mates like Gram Parsons were committed to breathing and recording music with the force of giants, come hell or Mexican shoe scrapings.Verdict Against all odds, Richards survived his own vitality and rebelliousness, and he knows it. Lovers of music, travel, autobiography, and fiction will eat the lessons of this natural-born pirate with a knife, fork, and spoon. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/10.]—Heather McCormack, Library Journal
"[A] slurry romp through the life of a man who knew every pleasure, denied himself nothing, and never paid the price."
"The ultimate Keith Richards album."
"Rollicking and raw."
"What kind of celebrity autobiography is his Life? A remarkable one."
"[Richards] not only has the best tunes, he also knows how to tell the best tales."
"A vivid self-portrait and, of the Stones and their musical era, a grand group portrait....spellbinding storytelling."
"[A] high-def, high-velocity portrait of the era when rock 'n' roll came of age, a raw report from deep inside the counterculture maelstrom of how that music swept like a tsunami over Britain and the United States....Mr. Richards has found a way to channel to the reader his own avidity, his own deep soul hunger for music and to make us feel the connections that bind one generation of musicians to another. Along the way he even manages to communicate something of that magic, electromagnetic experience of playing on stage with his mates, be it in a little club or a huge stadium."Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"[A] slurry romp through the life of a man who knew every pleasure, denied himself nothing, and never paid the price."David Remnick, The New Yorker
"The ultimate Keith Richards album."Hillel Italie, Associated Press
"Rollicking and raw."Andrew Abrahams, People
"What kind of celebrity autobiography is his Life? A remarkable one."Jim Fusilli, The Wall Street Journal
"[Richards] not only has the best tunes, he also knows how to tell the best tales."Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly
"Compelling, endearing, insightful, action-packed, graceful, generous-spirited, unflinching, and funny."Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A vivid self-portrait and, of the Stones and their musical era, a grand group portrait....spellbinding storytelling."Richard Corliss, Time
[Life is] one of the greatest rock memoirs ever
The dread pirate Richards, scourge of straight society and rock icon, bares all—including a fang or two.
The Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist—and, we learn, principal songwriter—Richards has already set tongues wagging, giant red ones or otherwise, with leaked bits and pieces of his memoir, most notably the extensive, extremely bitchy complaints about Mick Jagger. "I used to love to hang with Mick," he writes, "but I haven't gone to his dressing room in, I don't think, twenty years. Sometimes I miss my friend. Where the hell did he go?" His fellow Glimmer Twin may not miss him so much upon learning Richards's assessment of his soul (and genitalia). He also tears down another Mick, this one Mick Taylor, former Stones guitarist, who left the band without Keith's permission: "You can leave in a coffin or with dispensations for long service, but otherwise you can't." Others receive gentler treatment, among them Gram Parsons, Rolling Stones heart and soul Ian Stewart and keyboard wizard Billy Preston (who, we learn, "was gay at a time when nobody could be openly gay"). Surveying the living and the dead, Richards admits the improbability of his own survival, though, he notes, most of his excessive behavior is now many decades past. He is much calmer now, particularly after having undergone brain surgery a few years ago. Which does not mean he's surrendering—part of the joy of this altogether enjoyable, if sometimes mean-spirited, book is the damn-the-torpedoes take on things. Indeed, when he's not slagging or praising, Richards provides useful life pointers, from how to keep several packs of dogs in different places to the virtues of open guitar tunings. He even turns in a creditable recipe for bangers and mash, complete with a pointed tale that speaks to why you would not want to make off with his spring onions while he's in the middle of cooking.
"A jury of my peers would be Jimmy Page, a conglomeration of musicians, guys that have been on the road and know what's what," Richards growls. Let no mere mortal judge him, then, but merely admire both his well-written pages and his stamina.