When Keith Richards Became A Rebel

So it’s an incredibly charming narrative, so far.  James Fox captures Keith’s voice well.  We’ve known as long ago as Robert Greenfield’s glorious ’72 interview just what a good raconteur Keith is.  In the early going, though, there’s a really wonderful vignette that essentially explains when Keith became an outlaw.

The book paints a portrait of 1950’s Britain that makes us think more about the Kinks than the Stones — the pinched straits of the British economy after the war and the collapse of the Empire, the conformism enforced by all the men back from serving in the military and now in teaching jobs and the like.  Everything seems grey until the bacillus of American rock’n’roll is transposed into the dull Petri dish of ’50s British youth.

Keith — whose harmonies up until ’81 were still one of the things that made the Stones so great — was recruited as a 12-year old soprano into his school’s choir, and they did well, one of the three best boys choirs in Britain, he says.  And the moment his voice cracked, they booted him from the choir, and to add insult to injury, held him back in school, because he’d missed so many classes performing.  The injustice of it!  It was just a hop, skip and a jump from there to Keith wearing a skull ring and flouting every societal norm up to and included snorting his dead dad’s ashes.

The book’s a hoot.

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