“Life”
by Keith Richards & James Fox
Read by Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley & Keith Richards
Produced by Hachette Audio (2010)
Approx 24 hours.

I think I may have read one of the most intriguing and entertaining autobiographies ever.  “Life,” the story of Keith Richards and his life in and out of the Rolling Stones.  The Stones were/are one of the world’s biggest bands and the stuff of rock and roll legend.  I never was a big fan of the Stones before, but after listening to this audio book I am now.  Working in radio I have played a few of their tunes and even had a couple of favorites, but I guess I never really gave them a chance.

What has made me a fan most of all is something I found extremely surprising in this audiobook, the easy flow of the story beginning with Keith Richards’ early life and just rolling along through his life, warts and all.  Also the idea presented that Richards’ is a pretty laid back guy.  He had his ups and downs with drug addiction, which he discusses through this book, but the amazing thing is that he didn’t really have anything bad to say about anybody.  Most celebrity biographies/autobiographies, the celeb has a beef with someone or several someones.  Or there is an expose feel to a biography which has a purpose of poking at wounds.  Keith did have conflicts with people, such as Brian Jones and later with Mick Jagger and a few in between, but each time Keith presented it by always taking the blame for some of the turmoil.  He never blamed and there was no fingerpointing and there was no beef with anyone that he had to get out.  Keith simply told his story and left it at that.

Many times throughout the book Keith turns the storytelling over to other people due to them having a different perspective, some of the other people are Marlon (his son), Bobby Keys, and just about anyone else involved in his life.

In this book all the myths are exposed, such as did Keith get his “blood changed” to break his heroin addiction? did he really snort his father’s ashes? Was it a palm tree he fell from?  All this and more including the loves of his life.  Other than music Keith loved a few women, from Ronnie Spector to Anita Pallenberg, they’re all special and from the words he uses the reader/listener can tell he loved them deeply.

Throughout the book Richards, of course, discusses his love of music.  From the discovery of American Blues to Island music, he incorporates it all into the music that becomes the most timeless music of all time, Rolling Stones music.  How some of the songs were written and recorded can be surprising and yet once you go back and hear the tunes it makes sense.

The audiobook is also a bit of a Keith Richards sandwich, with Keith providing the intro and the final chapters’ narration of the book.  Johnny Depp reads for Keith’s early years, and musician Joe Hurley reads for the better part of the 70s section and Johnny Depp taking over again for the 80s and beyond.   Depp, who based his Jack Sparrow pirate character on Richards, does an awesome job reading as Richards, but Joe Hurley makes the middle section fun doing a great “slight” impersonation of Richards and the others whose voices are required.  As far as biographies go this is the best read one I’ve ever heard.

With the book being around 24 hours of listening time, I was a bit wary of the task, but once the book started I was hooked and just couldn’t let go.  Great bit of rock and roll history with some inside stories that make the trip more fun.

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