||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2010)|
Keys performing in October 2009
Photo: Sean Birmingham
December 18, 1943 |
Slaton, Texas, United States
|Associated acts||Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Warren Zevon, Joe Ely, Sheryl Crow, John Lennon, Leon Russell, Plastic Ono Band, Harry Nilsson|
Robert Henry 'Bobby' Keys (born December 18, 1943, Slaton, Lubbock County, Texas, United States) is an American saxophone player, and has performed with other musicians as a member of one of the notable horn sections of the 1970s. He appears on albums by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Harry Nilsson, Delaney Bramlett, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Keys has been a touring musician since 1956.
Life and career
Keys started touring at age fifteen with Bobby Vee and fellow Texan Buddy Holly. Keys is best known as being the main saxophone player for The Rolling Stones. He played on every album from 1969 until 1974 and from 1980 to present, and has performed on all Stones tours since 1970. Keys has played on hundreds of recordings, many uncredited, including Dion's "The Wanderer."
Keys met the Rolling Stones at the San Antonio Teen Fair in 1964. He is known for his relationship both as a musician (for example, the saxophone solo on the 1971 hit "Brown Sugar") and his friendship with Keith Richards - the two were born on the same day - (there is a film of him and Richards throwing a television set from the 10th floor of a hotel during the 1972 American Tour, as seen in the Stones' unreleased 1972 concert movie Cocksucker Blues). Keys recorded with them around 1969 on their track "Live with Me". Keys, along with the addition of Mick Taylor, made their debut on Let it Bleed. Mick Jagger and Keys became close in the early 1970s, with Keys serving as an attendant at Jagger's wedding. Together with Jim Price on trumpet, Keys toured with the Stones in 1970, 1971 and 1972, and with Steve Madaio and Trevor Lawrence on the first half of the 1973 European Tour, at which Keys was thrown out after missing some shows. According to legend Keys filled a bathtub with Dom Perignon champagne and drank most of it. Allegedly this caused a falling out with Mick Jagger, and Keys only guested on some shows of the 1975 and 1978 tours, missing the 1976 tour completely. He performed only two tracks on the 1981 tour, on which Ernie Watts was the main sax player. Keys returned to backing the Stones together with Gene Barge on the 1982 European Tour, and has toured with the Stones on all tours ever since.
He is also featured in the 1971 concert movie, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, narrating the story of his early life while driving around downtown Dallas. Other recordings made by Keys was the baritone saxophone on Elvis Presley's "Return to Sender" (though this is disputed), and on John Lennon's first American solo #1 single hit (and the only US #1 in Lennon's lifetime) "Whatever Gets You thru the Night".
From 1973-1975, Keys participated in John Lennon's Lost Weekend in Los Angeles along with Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon. Keys had played with Lennon in the Plastic Ono Band and, while in Los Angeles, he played on Lennon's albums Walls and Bridges and Rock 'n Roll. Additionally, Keys took part in the last known recording session between Paul McCartney and Lennon; A Toot and a Snore in '74.
Although more commonly known as a session musician, Keys released two albums of his own in the 1970s; a self-titled instrumental album on Warner Bros. Records that featured Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Eric Clapton in 1972; and Gimme the Key on Ringo Starr's record label Ring O'Records in 1975.
Still active in 2011, Keys appeared on December 16 with the Athens, Georgia, band Bloodkin in their "Exile on Lumpkin Street" show at the legendary Georgia Theater (which re-opened in August 2011 in its spectacularly remodeled and enlarged space after the building was gutted by fire in June 2009); besides performing some of their own music, Bloodkin rocked out with Keys on numerous hits from three of the biggest Stones' albums on which Keys had performed, "Let It Bleed," "Sticky Fingers," and "Exile on Main Street."
- The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St., Goats Head Soup, Emotional Rescue, Stripped, Shine a Light
- Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs and Englishmen
- George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
- John Lennon: Some Time in New York City, Walls and Bridges, Rock 'n' Roll
- Keith Richards: Talk Is Cheap, Live at the Hollywood Palladium
- Ringo Starr: Ringo, Goodnight Vienna
- Ronnie Wood: 1234, Gimme Some Neck, Mahoney's Last Stand
- B.B. King: B. B. King in London
- Barbra Streisand: Barbra Joan Streisand
- Carly Simon: No Secrets, Hotcakes
- Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll
- Delaney, Bonnie & Friends: On Tour with Eric Clapton, Accept No Substitutes
- Donovan: Cosmic Wheels
- Dr. John: The Sun, Moon & Herbs
- Eric Clapton: Eric Clapton
- Faces: Long Player
- Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson, Son of Schmilsson, Pussy Cats, Duit on Mon Dei
- Warren Zevon: Warren Zevon
- Humble Pie: Rock On
- Joe Ely: Lord of the Highway
- John Hiatt: Beneath This Gruff Exterior
- Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Kate & Anna McGarrigle
- Keith Moon: Two Sides of the Moon
- Leo Sayer: Endless Flight
- Lynyrd Skynyrd: Second Helping
- John Lennon and Paul McCartney: A Toot and a Snore in '74
- John Lennon: Whatever Gets You thru the Night
- Marvin Gaye: Let's Get It On (deluxe edition)
- Sheryl Crow: The Globe Sessions
- Yoko Ono: Fly
- Jim Carroll: Catholic Boy