Bobby Keys, longtime saxophonist for The Rolling Stones, has died aged 70 at his home in Franklin, Tennessee.
Michael Webb, keyboardist for Bobby Keys and the Suffering Bastards, confirmed Keys’ death with Nashville Scene, saying the legendary musician had been battling cirrhosis for some time.
“About two months ago, he started wrestling with his health. He has been in and out of (the hospital) several times,” he said.
Keys’ family was not immediately available for comment.
Keys was replaced for the latest Rolling Stones tour by Karl Denson; however, he was in Australia earlier in the year with the band when they had to cancel their tour and he performed with his band the Suffering Bastards in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
Keys was born in Slaton, Texas, in 1943 but it was when he moved to Lubbock that he befriended Buddy Holly, playing with him briefly as a teenager. By the early Sixties, Keys was playing with Bobby Vee on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour. He first met the Rolling Stones in 1964 at the San Antonio Teen Fair and reconnected with Mick Jagger at a Delaney and Bonnie session in the late Sixties. Keys then played on some of the Stones’ most critically acclaimedc albums, including Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. His most famous solo was on ‘Brown Sugar’ from Sticky Fingers.
Apart from sessions and touring with The Rolling Stones, Keys has also recorded and performed with John Lennon, George Harrison, Dr John, Joe Cocker, Humble Pie, Eric Clapton, The Faces, Warren Zevon, Marvin Gaye and many more.
A statement from the Rolling Stones said that the band was devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, “Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960s. He will be greatly missed.”
You can read ATN’s article on Bobby Keys from earlier in the year here: THE SAX MAN COMETH