Keith’s autobiography is a must read for ALL MUSIC FANS. This is because he is writing from a very real, truthful, and humanistic point of view—not full of celebrity and pomposity.
I am only half way through, and yet I have learned so much. He frankly let’s us know that the Stones happened to be in the right place at the right time, and that this bigger than life fame which exploded, was due to what was going on around them in the beginning. The culture changing, the desires of the young people at the time, the pop craze, the British Invasion, The Beatles phenomenon, etc. etc.. Yes, their work ethic is what sustained it, but the overnight sensation thing he takes no credit for—just the Universe doling it out his way.
And, he goes on to say how weird it was. One minute you’re just a guy—perhaps not even that good looking, and you can’t even get laid. The next minute, girls by the hundreds are jumping all over you and you’re just the same guy you were a few weeks back.
He also gives great info on the song writing process and how Mick and he had to learn how to do it as part of their job. In the beginning, they were just happy to play cover songs and turn people on to American blues. But, their producer at the time, Andrew Loog Oldham who saw a bigger vision, locked them in a kitchen and said, “Don’t come out until you’ve written a song!” Then Keith goes on to tell us how that process works and how one can get good at it. Having written a couple decent songs myself, I now realize how one might write more if it were their job to do so in life. You learn how to do it just like any other job (albeit the muse starts the entire process). One of facts that totally blew my mind was, as a songwriter how he would become distant because he was always “watching” people, instead of being totally present with them. As an observer, so to speak, to see how they would act in certain situations. That’s what would give him ideas for songs. I have seen that distance thing from other artists I’ve worked with over the years and this knowledge has helped explain some unanswered questions I’ve had. Also, Keith is quite truthful about the way people act towards him in unnatural ways because of his celebrity, and how that can play tricks on you and can even alter your own personality. That’s a study all on it’s own. He confesses how he couldn’t believe what fame did to Brian Jones—how Brian bought into it so much and how that had a hand in ruining him.
And, the work ethic thing is HUGE. I don’t think bands today work nearly as hard or for as long as some did back in the day. He talks about the Stones’ first three years. They worked 2 shows a day for those three years, and when not playing gigs were making records. In those three years they only had 10 days off!!
By the time we saw them at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, they had already done five tours in the States!! No wonder they were so good.
When you play out that much, you learn how to entertain the audience—how to really bring it and get the desired effect—you become a professional at it. All the pros I know like Bruce, Willie Nelson, Pink Floyd, etc., all have this work ethic. That is how they became great, and that is how they continue to mean so much to us to this very day.
Anyone who’s had the pleasure of getting to know Keith knows that he pretty much always tells it like it is—even if the truth is uncomfortable. Because he cannot tell a lie, we get the benefit of the real story from just a guy, not a rock star. Makes it so refreshing and so easy to relate to–just a story from one human being sharing with others.
That’s all for now, wishing you all the very best.
It turns out that a good number of folks actually enjoy reading this blog, and that’s nice to know.
Thanks for taking a peek,
*** “Life” is available in paperback on May 3, 2011. Pre-order on Amazon.com here >