Friday, August 10, 2007

Keith Richards to write memoir -- if he can remember his life

It really is not that big a deal to write a book these days, and this especially applies to celebrities who write autobiographies.

However, every now and then, there comes a celebrity book that might be worth giving a chance.

I thought of this recently after hearing that Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards is currently working on a memoir. He received $7.3 million to write it, and it is scheduled to be published in 2010.

This may be one of the rare instances where a celebrity is able to deliver the goods when it comes to compelling subject matter. Because regardless of whether a person is a fan of his or not, most would agree he is an important figure in the recent history of popular music.

Richards has been right in the middle of most of the significant musical events to take place since the Stones hit the big time in America in 1965.

He has co-written many memorable songs, and he should have an endless supply of stories regarding them.

If he shares those with us, the book could be absorbing.

However, as most folks know, Richards is almost as well known for the wild life he has led as he is for his musicianship. Many folks are surprised that he is still alive and that he can even remember enough to write a book.

Because of this, the book could primarily focus on the seamy side of his life.

To a certain degree, he will have to address those issues in order to write a truly honest book. If he were to ignore them, he would come off as a phony.

But, it would be a tremendous mistake if he allows the book to become just another account of the wacky life of an outlaw. Since Richards is aware of his public image, he could just serve up a superficial account of his life that would likely be well received.

Let's hope he avoids that because there are a lot of topics that I would like to hear reflections about.

For example, what was going through his mind during the disastrous acoustic set he played with Bob Dylan and Ron Wood at Live Aid? Live Aid was a fundraiser for African famine relief, and the set was hyped as a climax to all the performances that had taken place in London and Philadelphia that day.

However, the set was a catastrophe. Guitars were out of tune as he, Dylan, and Wood never quite seemed to be on the same page. What was it like to flop in front of hundreds of millions of people like that?

Additionally, the Stones have produced a half dozen classic albums. What was it like when they recorded "Beggar’s Banquet" in 1968? The group was in a trough at that time, and it was a possibility they could have broken up if that record had failed. If they had split up, Richards certainly would not have become the star he became and received a pirate's ransom for his autobiography.

In the face of all that adversity, the band delivered one of the greatest albums of the last 40 years. Everybody arrives at a crossroads a few times in their life. This was one for him, and if he hadn't delivered, lives would have changed.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. The potential for a vibrant and entertaining book is there.

It would be a shame if Richards reduced it to a telling of outrageous escapades just to make a ton of money for his publisher.

The low road is often the easy road.

Keef, don't take the low road.


Joltin' Django said...

I saw the Stones' "Undercover (Of the Night)" video over the weekend -- from '83 or '84. Keith looked like he was in relatively good shape then. Over the past 20 years, however, it looks like he's aged 50!

Mister Jimmy said...

Talents - much less personas - like Richards' can be counted on one hand, at least for my generation. I think his memoir will give us a taste of what Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and a few others would have given us if they'd lasted long enough. And he'll have plenty of help putting it together. Another fine read - though not so prominent a public figure - is the recent book by Geoff Emerick. (He engineered "Revolver" when he was 19.)

Chris said...

" the recent book by Geoff Emerick. (He engineered "Revolver" when he was 19.) "

Engineering a Beatles album before age 20. That's a pretty good coup.