The Keef's memoir is a lot more than I expected and better than so many of the Rock n' Roll biographies that have crossed my path lately. More 'narrated' memoir than formal biography, this work is told in a mostly chronological order with the necessary flashback/forwards as required.
Richards and whatever writer(s) and editors aided in the storytelling, spin a yarn that rolls across the decades of his and the Rolling Stones lives like a tour bus on a pot holed local road on the way to some gig. Bumps, bruises, confrontations, breakdowns and for many a lot of fun and for a few not so much festoon the ride of The Keef.
Keith Richards, "The Keef", notorious for his life of excess denoted from his introduction of himself in actual life as "The Keef" because of articulation problems due to substances and circumstance on board that would slow down anyone, weaves stories that are not always consistent but probably as true as any told. Some of the incidents related in this book will seem to many readers 'out there', but one only needs looks at the modern day recollections of those who traveled, even briefly, with the Stones to begin to feel their veracity. Writers and journalists, one after another have twenty or thirty years later revealed that a few weeks or months hanging out with the band resulted in a stay in rehab. But first, the time spent with the Stones got foggy towards the end. So cars, planes, buses and houses full of drugs along side all of the related stories can be tolerated as likely factual as it will ever get.
The arrests and other public incidences as a matter of record are there for any one to find. It is the sheer volume of decades, yes decades, of craziness and the absolute totally disregard for any social norm for many of the crowd in this story that make for such an unbelievable story. After all if you are not going to believe a Boy Scout, who are you going to trust?
Yes, Keith Richards was a Boy Scout! Literally a merit badge wearing, three finger salutin', old lady across the street helpin' follower of Sir Baden-Powell. Even years later, in some twisted moment of irony, at the time of the Boy Scout Centennial celebration Richards finds himself standing at attention (or as much as his condition allowed) in a hotel room somewhere in the world when the festivities come on television saluting once more all that is Scouting. Combined with his childhood it may by his own acknowledgment have contributed to his ability to survive.
From early childhood and his parents survival of the Blitz to the present of a bunch of real survivors still playing out, Life is an unusual ride. From the best unintentional explanations in print of the underlying meanings of Pink Floyd songs (and this is obscure unless you know the lyrics to most of their songs) as a childhood memory, Richards memories not the PF guys, to moments of clarity resulting in one of his children being raised by his mother, to his own son being used as a roadie, to borderline violence page after page, to marital discourse, wife swapping, and every other thing you've ever heard, it is buried somewhere in this book.
As this is a far better written and constructed piece of prose than the typical R'n'R memoir/biostory, it is for me a true 'goodread'. Three stars as a biography as it partially poses as an autobio form and it does have some flaws. Mostly though, it is the best of the genre I've read in many years!