Famed Stones sideman was known for his “hard living” but played with nearly every influential rock act of the ‘70s.
By Fred Mills
Rolling Stones saxman Robert Henry “Bobby” Keys passed away yesterday, Dec., at his home in Franklin, TN, at the age of 70. The cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver.
During his long, colorful career – the New York Times obituary described him as “a lifelong devotee and practitioner of music with a driving pulse and a hard-living, semi-law-abiding participant in the late-night, sex-booze-and-drug-flavored world of musical celebrity” — he recorded and/or toured with everyone from Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Delaney & Bonnie and chuck Berry to Joe Cocker, Sheryl Crow, Harry Nilsson and of course the Stones. It was while recording with D&B that he met Mick Jagger while that band was recording 1969’s Let It Bleed in the same studio and, after playing on the album’s “Live With Me” went on to become their go-to guy when they need a pure/primal rock ‘n’ roll sax.
Keys was born near Lubbock, TX, and as a teenager and, previously inspired by Buddy Holly, began playing blues and rock. The rest was history.