The Rolling Stones released a statement this week about the death of bandmate Bobby Keys, who played the saxophone for more than 40 years with them.
“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 1960s. He will be greatly missed,” the statement read.
The 70-year old musician reportedly passed away at home in Tennessee after a long illness. Over the years, he played with everyone from Buddy Holly to John Lennon to Eric Clapton, though he admitted once that he never learned how to read music.
“That’s not where I come from musically. I come strictly from feeling, and that feeling comes from rock ‘n’ roll,” he told Rolling Stone.
Keys said that the first time he heard the Stones, he knew something big was happening, much the same way he felt when he heard Buddy Holly play the electric guitar for the first time.
“I went out and listened to them and there was some actual rock & roll going on there, in my humble opinion.”
“You got to realize that the vision, the image, according to 1964 US Rock and roll standards, was mohair suit and tie, and nicey-nicey ol’ boy next door. And all of a sudden hear comes this truckload of English jackflies singing a Buddy Holly song! Damn! I couldn’t really hear all that well, amplifiers and PAs being what they were, but man I felt it…it reminded me so much of the energy I heard from Buddy and I heard from Elvis. There was something in there that was the real deal,” Keys said in Keith Richards’ autobiography.
Although Keys wasn’t with the band for every show, he played often with them and was a good friend of Richards’, who said today that he was deeply saddened at the loss of his longtime friend.
“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. My condolences to all that knew him and his love of music,” Richards said.