Review: Life Details The Unfiltered Life Of Keith Richards


Michael Putland

Keith Richards’ Life is a straight-up, cut to the chase recollection of the raucous times of the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist.

Sabrina Kwarta

If you’re going to dedicate any of your time to reading a memoir, please read this one. Keith Richards’ Life is a straight-up, cut to the chase recollection of the raucous times of the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist. Keith’s brazen, unfiltered narrative voice makes it all the more intriguing, and his story is equal parts crude, somber, with just the right amount of unbelievable.

Life recalls times of sex, drugs, run-ins with the law, and other tales of rock and roll debauchery. I won’t give every detail, but I will tell you this: in the first chapter, Richards’ reminisces about an instance in 1975 involving a car (a brand-new yellow Chevrolet Impala, to be exact) full of drugs in the tiny town of Fordyce, Arkansas. 

After the Stones were catapulted into the music world, their fame increased as the years went on, for some reasons more questionable than others. The guitarist bears the brutal honesty of life as a Rolling Stone (so much so, that he doesn’t hesitate to throw his own bandmates under the bus while doing it).  

Drug scandals, public indecency, and trying your best to avoid getting arrested were everyday pinnacles of being in the band. By 1975, they were on the radar of nearly every cop in the United States, wanting to, according to Richards, “rid America of these little fairy Englishmen” by any means. In 1972, president Richard Nixon’s State Department declared them to be “the most dangerous rock-and-roll-band in the world.” Add that to your résume.

Keith’s tale is also a compelling one. Born in London in 1943, Richards describes growing up an only child in Dartford after WWII, and how being close with his grandfather led him to pick up guitar and further expanded his love of music. He remembers bowing down to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Elvis Presley as a teenager, and insists that great records just get better with age. 

As for romance, he greatly reflects on his on-off relationship with model Anita Pallenberg and how her Heroin addiction eventually drove them apart in the late ’70s.  Richards also discusses his own rocky experience with substance abuse and his numerous cold-turkey attempts, which largely influenced his work with the Rolling Stones. Personal problems and internal conflict within the band would become prevalent through their later projects.

All infringements aside, Keith Richards is an interesting man. Along with being the epitome of the “rock star” image, Richards is the master of telling his truth and telling it well. Life is a true revelation of musics’ original “hot mess” – and how he holds that title with pride. After all, it’s his life. And he hasn’t forgotten any of it.