Rolling Stones' Sax Player Dead at 70

Bobby Keys played with John Lennon, Buddy Holly
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2014 6:49 AM CST
Rolling Stones' Sax Player Dead at 70
In this March 25, 2012, file photo, saxophonist Bobby Keys signs a copy of his autobiography for Jo Claire Swayze, right, in Greenwood, Miss.   (AP Photo/The Greenwood Commonwealth, Andy Lo)

Bobby Keys, who played saxophone for the Rolling Stones—as well as the likes of John Lennon and Buddy Holly—has died at 70, the Telegraph reports. The Texan may be best known for his solo on the Stones' hit "Brown Sugar." He began playing with the band in the 1960s, played on every album until 1974, and continued with the band on stage for decades. Health issues forced him to cancel recent dates. "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," says Keith Richards, who wrote the foreword to Keys' memoir.

Together, the two lived a wild, drug-fueled lifestyle; they were known for throwing a TV out a hotel window in 1972, the New York Times reports, calling Keys a "a hard-living, semi-law-abiding participant in the late-night, sex-booze-and-drug-flavored world of musical celebrity." Keys was inspired when, at age 12, he saw Buddy Holly play. He wanted to play guitar afterward, but it was too expensive, so he ended up with a saxophone provided by his school. "The only instrument they had left, the absolute last instrument available, was an old baritone saxophone, which I had no idea how to even put my lips on," Keys wrote in his memoir. He first saw the Rolling Stones play in 1964 and began playing with them five years later; last year, he appeared on stage with them at the UK's Glastonbury festival. (More John Lennon stories.)

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