I have always thought I might be out-of-step, but I never realized how far until I considered writing a review of 'Life', the autobiography of the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Underwritten by a $7 million advance, it was released to extravagant acclaim in October 2010. Since then, sales have exceeded 1 million copies.
I am not a musician, but that shouldn't preclude me from reading books about musicians. I'm not a bomber pilot either, but that didn't stop me writing about the 8th Air Force in WWII. I don't know much about taking drugs either: at least I didn't until I read this book. This work could have been entitled 'Addiction, and How To Achieve It".
Most autobiographies are descriptions of how the author sees him/herself, or how they would like to be seen. As such, they are essentially fiction. James Fox's work is no exception - I don't think anyone would believe for a second that Keith Richards could have written this book himself.
I suspect that Fox, complete with notebook and recorder, sat and listened to Richards ramble, and then; at his leisure, attempted to knock it into readable prose. That is what it sounds like anyway.
The book is phony. From the start where Richards slurs his way through the introduction in a funny fabricated accent; sometime posh, sometime cockney sometime mid-Atlantic, but most mostly Kentish swede, to his self gratification at the end. He pretends to be a Londoner, and tries to sound like one. "The Dartford Rolling Stones" doesn't quite have the right ring to it, albeit accurate. He parasited on the work and talent of others, and claimed them as his own. His total lack of self-respect, caused him to succeed where a normal person's natural reticence would have inhibited them. He is coarse, crude and offensive. Had he not achieved celebrity by fluke of birth and timing, he would almost certainly be in jail.
Anyone expecting some juicy revelations will be sadly disappointed. There is nothing in this book that we haven't heard about before, ad nauseam. Richards doesn't describe himself as always in a drug induced stupor, some of the time he is just drunk. But, by his own admission, he is always irresponsible.
Keith Richards comes out of this book as a sad deficient man, deficient of everything but money. It is apparent that he cannot come to terms with the fact that when the Rolling Stones is mentioned, the next words will be Mick Jagger, not Keith Richards.
If you have been drawing your State Pension for the last ten years and hanker after the 'good old days', this book is not going to help you. But if you enjoy the ramblings of an old geezer who was once part of a popular bad, then this is the book for you.
The work encourages and glorifies drug abuse, lawbreaking, and physical violence, and is offensive on every page. I just hope that the millions of people who have bought it, keep it out of the hands of their children.