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Keith Richards: The Biography
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About the Author

Victor Bockris has written about the cultural heroes of the twentieth century for over thirty years. He is the author or co-author of major biographies on Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, The Velvet Underground, and many others. He lives in New York City.

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Although this sympathetic portrait doesn't tell fans much they don't already know about Rolling Stones guitarist Richards, it is a diverting addition to the rock-bio genre. Bockris ( The Life and Death of Andy Warhol ) relies heavily on secondhand excerpts from Stones interviews, books and criticism, stringing together quotes and recollections with minimal narration. We hear from Richards's former lover, Anita Pallenberg; critics Chet Flippo, Nik Cohn and Albert Goldman; and Mick Jagger's old flame Marianne Faithfull, who believes that Richards's drug problems stemmed partly from guilt over the 1969 ousting of Stones guitarist Brian Jones, who drowned in his swimming pool two weeks later. Richards himself speaks about Jagger and other band members, tensions within the band, songwriting (his favorite is ``Jumpin' Jack Flash'') and substance abuse. Bockris doesn't skimp on tales of his subject's aggression and heroin addiction, yet he also chooses anecdotes that emphasize the sincerity and amiability behind the musician's fierce stance. Richards emerges as more a tortured artist than a junkie, more a generous party-lover than a materialistic star in this well-organized, complimentary biography. Photos. (Sept.)

"The hair-raising yarns in Keith Richards confirm... that the quintessential rock-and-roll guitarist is also popular music's all time icon of excess."
"Bockris re-creates the wild life of this rock 'n' roll legend with the voices of his contemporaries--the musicians, lovers and drug addicts. This is such an epic tale of excess in every aspect that by the end of it you simply marvel that Richards is still alive and making great music."
"An even-handed and entertaining account that makes it clear that while Mick Jagger may front the band, Richards is the heart and soul of the Rolling Stones."

As the most notorious member of the Rolling Stones, Richards would seem to be the perfect subject for a titillating biography. Bockris, author of The Life and Death of Andy Warhol ( LJ 9/1/89), has plenty of material to work with: Richards was a pioneer in making drugs, androgyny, and the occult de rigeur for the rock lifestyle, surviving legal battles, romantic quagmires, and bitter personnel changes. The hard-driving intensity of his music is the only constant. With such a wealth of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll tales to tell, this is a surprisingly unexciting book. Richards's songwriting partner and lifelong friend Mick Jagger is hardly heard from. Bockris relies so much on other sources that many libraries may already have most of this material. Not an essential purchase. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/92.-- Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.

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