Classic Rock Review

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Every Night’s A Saturday Night: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys by Bobby Keys (2012)

Every-Night-Saturday-Night-1From amazon.com

Review I’ve got to interview lots of artists. As of this writing, I’ve conducted close to ninety interviews. The most fun are the kinds of interviews are the ones where the person is just rattling off story after story about their life and the people they’ve associated with over their careers. What is even more enjoyable is when those conversations are relaxed and folksy – without pretense or an uppity attitude.

One such person that I’ve recently interviewed is Bobby Keys, saxophonist for the Rolling Stones. To paraphrase what I wrote in that interview (visit Boomerocity.com), he’s folksy and as country as cornbread – my kind of people! Bobby’s a great guy to chat with and one of the most fun guys I’ve had the privilege of interviewing.

You might not be able to interview Bobby Keys yourself but I can offer you the next best thing: His autobiography, Every Night’s A Saturday Night. Easy to read and very natural, you get the feel that you’re sitting in Keys’ family room, sipping on iced tea as he regales you with tales of his life as one of the go-to sax players in rock and roll. Because of who all he’s worked with, I refer to him as the Forest Gump of Rock and Roll. When you read Saturday Night, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You’ll read about the whole, complete story about his fabled bath in a tub of Dom Perignon. You read some very interesting stories about his friendship with John Lennon and his work with George Harrison and hanging with Harry Nilsson. You’ll read about his tours with Joe Cocker as well as Delaney and Bonnie. He tells of his meetings with Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.

Of course, there are lots and lots of stories about some band called the Rolling Stones and some guys by the names of Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Mick Jagger and their keyboardist, Chuck Leavell. No, he really doesn’t dish any dirt on the lads. As he said in my interview with him, that’s all be said and done already. To Keys, it’s all about the music and the friendships and that’s what makes Every Night’s A Saturday Night such a fun and enjoyable read.

It goes without saying that avid Stones fans will want this book. However, if you love true – and often hilarious – stories about some of the greatest names in rock music (as well as some of the songs and albums associated with them), you’re going to want this book.

Review Lots of fun – eliciting chuckles to guffaws, to outright laughter. A quick and very entertaining read written in a style that makes you feel that you’re just sitting at the bar with Bobby and he’s telling stories. A natural raconteur! I screamed through the book’s 275 odd pages in a couple of hours. Very enjoyable.

But, why four stars? First, it’s pretty clear that Bobby wasn’t keeping a diary or journal, since there are several points in the narrative where the words “I think”, “I don’t recall/remember” are used. While that’s not a real problem, it would be nice to know the accuracy of his recollections. For example, on pp. 85-86, “Opening for Blind Faith was great.. […] ..pop festivals, Atlanta I remember, and one outside of Milwaukee or Chicago”.

Let me fix that for you – it was The Midwest Rock Festival, on the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis Wisconsin (a western suburb of Milwaukee), July 26, 1969. This information, given 5 minutes with Google, is trivial to discover.

At another point in the book is pp. 230, “I forget where exactly this happened, what city we were in – maybe Detroit because I think we [The New Barbarians]were staying overnight in Milwaukee…”.

Again – “I forget”, “I think”, …etc. Again, two minutes with Google reveals that it was in Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Arena, April 29th, 1978 that a riot broke out because fans were disappointed that “Mick Jagger” didn’t appear.

I lived in Milwaukee for many years, so maybe the above nitpicking is just my own axe to grind. Maybe not.

But, ultimately, I was disappointed by not a whisper or breath or mention of Bobby Keys eponymously titled solo album from 1972. It’s not listed in the discography at the back of the book either. And a really NICE record it is too. Yes, it’s long out of print, and a collector’s item, but it’s available if you don’t mind spending some cash.

So, in summary – a little research on Bill Ditenhafer’s part (or someone’s) could’ve helped Bobby’s recollections along a bit, and the exclusion of Bobby’s solo album is quite surprising. The only thing I can assume is that Bobby disliked the record so much or thought it so insignificant that it wasn’t worth noting. Bottom line though; I enjoyed the book a lot and am spending a good, healthy chunk of time today listening to Bobby Keys play his horn.

Review This book should probably come with a warning label. Bobby Keys was a mad man extraordinaire … And one helluva sideman.

Sidemen are often the unsung heroes. They get back lit while the frontman gets the spotlight. But, where the hell would the frontman be without the sideman, eh? Hey, even Keith Richards calls himself a sideman … And we saw what happened when Mick went solo, right?

Sideman, indeed. This was a rip-roarer … Just like a Bobby Keys solo.

I read this in three settings. At just under 300 pages, it was a quick read. It was also an easy and laid back read … fun, too. It was written in Key’s voice, accent and good ol’ boy playful nature. Find him interviewed on YouTube to get the feel for his delivery; it adds to the read.

Keys has a legendary musical story: played with and spent time with everyone from Buddy Holly to John Lennon to Keef to Joe Cocker … it goes on and on. Who knew he spent that much time … and quality time with … John Lennon? The Joe Cocker stories were a gas, too. So many funny stories in this book.

He also has a legendary partyin’ past. Yeah, he went toe-to-toe with the best, including Keef. The partying ended up getting the best of Bobby. He could have done so much more on the music side of things. Such is life … as he would say. He didn’t go into details on how low he got, but he painted the picture of a very deep and narrow hole.

The Stones are in a lot of the book. He really did make a difference with their sound early on. They also tolerated his madman ways for a while … until, that is. I didn’t realize how he actually got on Mick’s (and the rest of the Stones … to a lesser degree, Keef) bad side. It wasn’t the bathtub Dom Perignon story, either. How he got back with them in ’89 and beyond is a good yarn, too.

If you are in to the sax, sidemen, the Stones, classic Rock and Roll flame up/flame out stories … and of course, Bobby Keys, read this.

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May 10, 2013 Posted by | Book Every Night's A Saturday Night: The Rock 'n' Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys by Bobby Keys | , | Leave a comment