Autobiography sheds light on rumors, past

Many fans and music historians have been long awaiting the release of Keith Richards’ autobiography, the Holy Grail of rock tomes.

Considering Richards’ checkered past and the number of brushes with death he’s had, it would be safe to say it was feared he might have met his end before sitting down to write his memoirs. Now the rock legend’s life is completely laid bare in 547 pages with all legends explained and rumors put to rest.

Titled simply “Life” and co-authored with James Fox, the 67-year-old musician recounts his childhood, family and pivotal events in his life, including the first meeting with a young Mick Jagger. Richards also illustrates the stories behind starting the Rolling Stones, the rise of the band, the creation of classic albums including “Exile on Main Street” and “Beggars Banquet” and of course, the decades of rock n’ roll excess along the way.

All of it is well-documented in his easygoing yet candid tone that shows flashes of humor. He also details good times and bad with the Stones, his famously volatile friendship with Mick Jagger, and reflections on deceased friends like original Stones guitarist Brian Jones, country rock fixture Gram Parsons and Stones pianist Ian Stewart.

Richards is also not afraid to take swipes at people, revealing a previously unknown cruel streak in Jones and even going so far as to insult Jagger’s manhood. Richards also discusses more recent projects like his late-80s solo work and cameo appearance in “Pirates of the Caribbean 3.”

If you’re a rock fan looking for stories of “Caligula”-esque parties, groupies and piles of drugs, a musician wanting to know Richards’ secrets or just a bored workingman in need of a good read, “Life” is definitely worth picking up. It’s a treat to hear Richards enthuse over something as simple as a Chuck Berry record or a Fender Telecaster in such a loving description usually reserved for holy objects.