Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bobby Keys- Every Night’s a Saturday Night:The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys (Counterpoint)

Over the years I have interviewed dozens of performers who cited the Beatles historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show as the inspiration for starting their music careers. A nearly equal numbers were inspired by Elvis Presley’s appearance on Sullivan’s show. Bobby Keys’ story of career choice inspiration is wholly unique; first hearing then seeing Buddy Holly and the Crickets playing at the grand opening of a new gas station in Lubbock, Texas was what set Keys on the road to cross paths with and become a sax player and sideman for legendary performers including the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, John Lennon and Eric Clapton among many others.

In his new autobiography, Every Night’s a Saturday Night: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys, Keys lays out the tale of his wild child youth that later continued into his wild child adulthood. The story he weaves is one of a life in a nearly constant state of flux; as he fluidly leads an at times hand to mouth existence and a life of excess; fueled not only by legendary amounts of drugs and alcohol, but the music that became the real driving force of his life.

Keys clearly embraces his excesses, laying out tales of tour physicians and their “little black bags”, detailing drug enhanced/addled performances, chemically fueled run ins with law enforcement and a particularly colorful story involving a groupie, a bath tub and a huge/expensive quantity of champagne.

The narrative of the story is pretty loose, as Keys recollections of life on the road and in the studio over the course of five plus decades drifts towards stream of consciousness, at times blurred by the passing of time and more than a few deceased brain cells. Keys is at his best when he reminisces about his tours of duty with the Stones.

He offers up interesting insight into the inner workings of the band, the relationship between Keith Richards and Mick Jagger and the veteran drummer, the timeless Charlie Watts. Jagger and Richards are clearly the creative force that has driven the Stones over the course of their career and while they are truly rock ‘n’ roll survivors, Keys depicts the often tenuous relationship dynamic between the pair.

It is his decades old friendship with Richards that Keys offers the great detail about. Richards has championed the sax man’s presence in the band through the good the bad and the ugly.  It is Richards who brought Keys onboard for recording sessions and tours and he is ultimately responsible for rehabilitating Keys reputation with his fellow Stones after a drug and alcohol fueled falling out with the band. The dynamic relationship between Jagger and Richards is put in focus by Richards’ embrace of Keys return to the fold and Jagger’s disdain, because “nobody leaves the Rolling Stones.

If you pick up this book looking for fluid prose you likely be disappointed, but you’re looking for interesting anecdotes and great stories of a rock ‘n’ roll life, then Every Night’s a Saturday Night will fill the bill.