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Bobby Keys Dies At 70

Bobby Keys Band - Courtyard Concerts 2013Photo by Nashville Public Library

Bobby Keys, the saxophonist and lifelong rock ‘n’ roller who played on John Lennon’s recordings, toured with Budy Holly, and played one of the all-time blowout solos on the “Brown Sugar” by Rolling Stones, died at the age of 70.

Keys died on Tuesday at his home in Franklin in Tennessee after a lengthy illness, Michael Webb said, man who used to play keyboard with Keys. Earlier this year, Keys had been on tour with the Rolling Stones, before his health stopped him from performing with the band.

“The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys. Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960s. He will be greatly missed.” – The band stated in their statement. Keys was born the same day as Keith Richards – December 18, 1943. The guitarist often talked about Keys as a soul mate and favorite musician.

Being one of the few rock saxophonists who become a name, Keys was a heavy-set man with jowls to match and he had a raw piercing sound. Bobby Keys sealed his name in the history with the band on “Brown Sugar”, when it had been decided that a saxophone would work better for the solo spotlight than a guitar.Some of the most memorable solos with Stones were played by Keys as the country-styled “Sweet Virginia” and the seven-minute jam “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

“I have lost the largest pal in the world, and I can’t express the sense of sadness I feel, although Bobby would tell me to cheer up”. – Richards stated to the media. Keys toured and recorded with the Stones since 1960s, and he featured on three the most acclaimed albums by the group: “Exile on Main Street”, ”Sticky Fingers” and “Let It Bleed.” Sharing a taste with Richards for throwing TVs from hotel balconies and developing a heroin addiction let to Keys temporary departure from the group.

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But, on every major tour over the past twenty years, Keys was with the Stones, dependably stepping up on the scene for his solo on “Brown Sugar. “Every Night’s a Saturday Night” is Keys’ memoir and it was published in 2012, along with the foreword by Richards. Keys said that he was exposed to rock ‘n’ roll music near the home of his grandparents at the grand opening of a Texas gas station. That was the very first time Keys heard an electric guitar performed live.