Bobby Keys is the greatest rock saxophone player of all time. My source on this is Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. Charlie ought to know – he was there. I’m glad I was there too on 18 October 2012 when Bobby and his band, The Suffering Bastards, played the Magic Bag theater in Ferndale, Michigan. I had no idea who Bobby Keys was when I bought a copy of Exile on Main St in the early ’80s, but by 2012 I was well aware of the man and the gnarly musk of his tenor sax tone.
Director Jeff Stacy didn’t seem to have much trouble lining up people to say nice things about Bobby. Ian McLagan of the Faces recalled, “We had to find a rocker, and he was the only one.” Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top astutely noted, “Bobby’s delivery is more guitar-like than any other horn man I know.” And drummer Jim Keltner summed his friend up, “He was funny and smart and always bordering on being in horrible trouble.” But Bobby’s birthday brother, Keith Richards, said it best, “He’s got a looseness about the rock ‘n’ roll. He knows how to roll.” Adding, “I’m really happy that he’s a mate of mine.”
This is the late Bobby Keys, in his own words and in the words of his friends and others he played with. Many great clips and quips from Bobby in this tribute to one of classic rock’s stellar side men.
“We’re half man, half horse, with a license to shit in the street.”