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Jenny Diski: Keith Richards

16 December 2010
Life 
by Keith Richards, with James Fox.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 297 85439 5
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... I’m going to hang on to KeithRichards’s autobiography, because sometimes I worry that I lead a boring life and wonder if I shouldn’t try harder to have fun. When that happens, a quick flick through Keith’s memoirs will remind me ...

Play hard

Dave Haslam

20 October 1994
The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-93 
by Nick Kent.
Penguin, 338 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 0 14 023046 7
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... of the self-destructive, drug-centred lives led by the rock stars he writes about. Kent made his name in the mid and late Seventies as a strung-out stringer, the suburban boy getting high with KeithRichards, hanging out at backstage drug binges, and – on one memorable occasion – being beaten about the body by Sid Vicious wielding a rusty bicycle chain. Kent’s most fruitful years writing for New ...
10 January 1991
Stone Alone 
by Bill Wyman and Ray Coleman.
Viking, 594 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82894 7
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Blown away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties 
by A.E. Hotchner.
Simon and Schuster, 377 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 671 69316 6
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Are you experienced? The Inside Story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience 
by Noel Redding and Carol Appleby.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 1 872180 36 1
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I was a teenage Sex Pistol 
by Glen Matlock and Pete Silverton.
Omnibus, 192 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 7119 2491 0
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Bare 
by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... The bassist is the accountable one: accountable to all the others in the band, as they are not to him. Whether he likes it or not, he usually does what he’s told. Even drummers, as the Who’s Keith Moon proved, are allowed to be charismatic – but bass players, unless they also sing, like Sting, get on with playing bass. The manager of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, bassman Noel Redding recalls ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Thatcher in Gravesend

9 May 2013
... for the tactless name in order to raise an iced glass to the memory of the golden-maned Boudicca of their upstream neighbour, Dartford. Dartford is where Margaret Thatcher, like Mick Jagger and KeithRichards, launched her career as a big-stage, big-dollar performer. With age, Thatcher and KeithRichards relocated their original identities, with fat biographies boosted as pure legend, bad ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding

3 January 2019
Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... he continued to channel Little Richard’s exuberance – as well as a rollicking cover of ‘Satisfaction’ (which the Rolling Stones had conceived as a homage to Redding and the Stax studio sound; KeithRichards later called the Stones’ version ‘a demo for Otis’). Slow, pleading ballads like ‘These Arms of Mine’, ‘Chained and Bound’, ‘My Lover’s Prayer’, ‘I’ve Been Loving You ...
4 May 2016
M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... first press launch! My first book review! My first feather-cut rock’n’roll heroine in the flesh!) My memory is that she was wearing a greyish white T-shirt adorned with a Nosferatu-like image of KeithRichards. Before the assembled hacks, she launched into a risible stream-of-consciousness rap – a dithyramb to all the Keefs and Bobs and other venerable rock’n’roll patriarchs. I wanted a ...
19 May 2011
Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... Pirates of the Caribbean and Shrek 2. And so our screens are filled with girlymen stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Elijah Wood, and not a rugged, crusty old geezer in sight, if you don’t count KeithRichards in his Pirates of the Caribbean cameo or the cartoon ogre Shrek. It is, Kanfer admits, a chicken and egg situation. Adults don’t go to the movies because they can’t find ‘emotional and ...

Saint Q

Alan Brien

12 September 1991
Well, I forget the rest 
by Quentin Crewe.
Hutchinson, 278 pp., £17.99, September 1991, 0 09 174835 6
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... common question faced on home visits to the provinces would be ‘Have you met Princess Margaret ... yet?’ At Quentin’s we grew used to finding Koestler, Bernard Levin, Peter Sellers, Ken Tynan, KeithRichards – but none of these quite counted as in her league. As Quentin observes here, with a pretence of puzzlement, ‘even in supposedly relaxed and liberal circles, very few managed to behave ...

I did not pan out

Christian Lorentzen: Sam Lipsyte

6 June 2019
Hark 
by Sam Lipsyte.
Granta, 304 pp., £12.99, March, 978 1 78378 321 2
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... couch. Now I’m thinking, is that the morphine, or is that my mother? Something is setting beautiful fires up and down my spine. This was a radical idea at the time: it wasn’t until 2007 that KeithRichards told an interviewer he’d snorted cocaine mixed with his father’s ashes. Lipsyte’s first novel, The Subject Steve, was published on 11 September 2001, an inauspicious start even if your ...

Hairy

E.S. Turner

1 October 1987
The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith​ Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That), Siegfried Sassoon (Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer) and Frank Richards (not, as some have supposed, the creator of Billy Bunter but the author of Old soldiers never die, an excellent view of the war by a Regular in the ranks). As many will know, Good-Bye to All That ...
30 March 2000
Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... images of Fraser in the book. The publishers just asked for trouble by using that flippant snap and catchpenny title and also by letting the first and last words in the book come from Mick Jagger and KeithRichards and those on the jacket from Paul McCartney, so that Fraser is effectively handed over to showbiz. In reality, showbiz was in the margin of his life. He was a creative figure in the art ...

Shapeshifter

Ian Penman: Elvis looks for meaning

24 September 2014
Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died 
by Dylan Jones.
Duckworth, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7156 4856 8
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Elvis Presley: A Southern Life 
by Joel Williamson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 19 986317 4
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... than Elvis. Phillips’s use of echo on those early sides is startling – in his mid-1950s pomp he got a sound it would take the Rolling Stones until 1972’s Exile on Main Street to secure. And KeithRichards says he still can’t work out some of Moore’s blistering riffs and runs.) Listening to these itchy little songs in your front room, sixty years on, you miss the most vital spark in the ...
9 October 1986
High, Wide and Handsome. Ian Botham: The Story of a Very Special Year 
by Frank Keating.
Collins, 218 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 00 218226 2
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... next over, another soon after that. Then he scored an astonishing 59 not out in 32 balls. Before long, he was having a row with Somerset County Cricket Club Committee, which sacked his two friends Richards and Garner. The row seemed to inspire him. He ended the season with the most sustained display of boundary-hitting in the history of the game. Cricket lovers everywhere rejoiced – not just, I think ...

Radical Democrats

Ross McKibbin

7 March 1991
Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977-80 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 675 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 09 174321 4
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Words as Weapons: Selected Writings 1980-1990 
by Paul Foot.
Verso, 281 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 310 4
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... including Macmillan, Callaghan, Wilson and Heath at one stage. It is that grouping that has presided over our decline.’ That remark unquestionably could have been made, and in those words, by Keith Joseph or any other product of a right-wing think-tank. The obsession with ‘decline’ and the conviction that a ‘centre party’, embracing the leadership of both the Conservative and Labour ...

Mothering

Peter Laslett

6 August 1981
L’Amour en plus 
by Elisabeth Badinter.
Flammarion (Paris), 372 pp., £6.80, May 1980, 2 08 064279 0
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Mari et Femme dans la Société Paysanne 
by Martine Segalen.
Flammarion, 211 pp., £6.30, May 1980, 2 08 210957 7
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... babies to the swaddling boards, hanging them on nails so as to get them out of the way, and leaving them to fester in their excrement. But experts on the psychology of infancy in our own day, like Dr Richards of the Child Development Unit at Cambridge, maintain that the swaddling board is an excellent instrument for the handling of very young children, and rear their own babies in this way.* For every ...

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