I heard the news of Bobby Keys’ passing, at 70 and from Cirrhosis, just after 1 p.m. on one of the Sirius XM rock channels, just before the news lit up the Internet. It reminded me of a few things, some about Keys and some others about life.
The first thing that came to mind was that I had a chance to see him play — not with the Stones again, which I have as recently as the summer of ’13 at the Verizon Center in Washington; oddly enough, it was a solo gig at Baltimore Soundstage. I didn’t make it that night, but I remember thinking to myself that I’d catch him next time.
But there isn’t going to be a next time. I would have loved to have seen him play a solo gig and, of course, heard what Stones-related tunes he would have played, as well as what would have comprised the rest of the set. Most rock fans closely associate him with Jagger, Richards & Co., but he played with so many other acts associated with music royalty that they are literally almost impossible to list. Start with the three Beatles, aside from Paul McCartney; Chuck Berry; B.B. King; Marvin Gaye; Joe Cocker; Lynyrd Skynyrd; Buddy Holly; I could go on and on, but look ’em up. The list is simply amazing.
But his name always links back to the Stones, of course, who met Keys when he was playing with ’60s popster Bobby Vee at the San Antonio Teen Fair during the Stones’ first American tour. That sparked a friendship with Richards (they were born on the same day) and led to his working with the group, starting the recording of the Let It Bleed — that’s him on “Live With Me” — album.
However, he first made a name for himself with his solo on “Brown Sugar,” which appeared on the group’s 1971 epic, Sticky Fingers. Work on the track began in 1969. On Dec. 2, to be exact >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0bxMWdOMbs
With the exception of the mid-to-late ’70s (after some issues arose concerning Keys’ drinking and escapades), he was pretty much a constant when the band recorded and toured.
My other point this evening is about doing whatever you can to see these legends while we still have that opportunity. I had a long, wet, cold day today; still, James Taylor was playing in Baltimore tonight and I hadn’t seen him play in more than 10 years.
So, off I went to see another legend. JT played for more than two hours and I had a low-key, but great, evening. So, the moral is to rock well and rock often, and all you can.
Just like JT does and Bobby did. Godspeed to ‘im.