Bobby Keys, saxophonist with the Rolling Stones, has died at the age of 70.
He started working with the band in 1969 and continued until he was forced to stand down due to ill health in October – although at the time the Stones reported: “He’s under doctor’s orders to take it easy for the next month and hopes to see everyone soon.”
Keys, a Texan, became a full-time musician at the age of 15 and worked with Buddy Holly and Bobby Vee. He first met Mick Jagger and co in 1964 although he didn’t play with them until five years later when he appeared on Let It Bleed. He played on every subsequent record until 1974’s It’s Only Rock And Roll, then returned from 1980’s Emotional Rescue to 2005’s A Bigger Bang. Other work included stints with Eric Clapton, John Lennon, George Harrison, B.B. King, Joe Cocker and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In a recent interview Keys told Yahoo: “It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve played Brown Sugar – I never get tired of playing it. Whenever I’m doing a concert with those cats, it’s not like I’m going through the motions. They are about going out there and delivering on every song. You better damn well commit to doing it good, or you won’t be doing it again.”
Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who was born on the same day as him, once described him as “my closest pal – also a depraved maniac.”
His death was confirmed by Michael Webb, keyboardist for his band Bobby Keys And The Suffering Bastards.