The Rolling Stones’ saxophonist Bobby Keys has died at the age of 70. The larger-than-life performer had been with the band for over 40 years. A Texas native, he joined the band having already toured with Buddy Holly. During the course of his illustrious career, Keys performed with the Stones, the Who and Eric Clapton.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Keys Suffered From Cirrhosis
He died of cirrhosis at his home in Tennessee. The Stones had announced via their website in October 2014 that Keys wouldn’t be joining the band during their tour of Australia and New Zealnd. The statement read:
Due to being a bit under the weather, Bobby Keys will not be joining the Stones for the Australian and New Zealand tour dates. Bobby is under doctor’s orders to take it a bit easy for the next month and hopes to see everyone soon.
An official statement from the band after the passing of Keys read, via ABC News:
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 1960’s. He will be greatly missed.
2. His First Track With the Stones Was ‘Let it Bleed’
He appeared on many of the Rolling Stones most famous tracks, including “Brown Sugar” in 1971. In an interview with The Nashville Scene in March 2012, Keys described how he became involved with the band:
The first record I played on was ‘Let It Bleed. I ran into Jagger [in Elektra Studios]. … So he said, ‘Well, what are you doing?’ … He said, ‘You got your horn?’ I said, ‘Well, yeah,’ and he said, ‘Well, if you got a minute, come on down to our studio. We’re working on some tracks, and there’s a song we were talking about a horn solo on.’ … That was the first track I played with them … that was fifty years ago!
3. Keys Played at Glastonbury With the Stones in 2013
He last toured with the band this year. In June 2013, he appeared with the band during their first ever show at England’s iconic Glastonbury venue. You can watch the full show above.
4. He Recorded 2 of His Own Albums
He recorded two of his own albums during the 1970s, including Gimme the Key which featured Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. You can listen to the album’s title track above.
5. His Former Guardian Was Buddy Holly & the Crickets Drummer J.I. Allison
In addition to working the Stones, Keys also provided horns for The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Joe Cocker. He a native of Slaton, Texas. On the blurb for his memoir, Every Night’s a Saturday Night: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys, it reads that he had his grandfather sign his guardianship over to Buddy Holly & the Crickets drummer J.I. Allison, so Keys could go on tour with the legendary rock ‘n’ roll act.