Bobby Keys, Saxophonist Who Played With the Rolling Stones and Many Others, Dead at 70

Dan Reilly

By Dan Reilly

on 12.02.14 in News

Bobby Keys, an American saxophonist best known for his decades-long affiliation with the Rolling Stones and also played with Eric Clapton, members of the Beatles, and many more, died today in his Franklin, Tennessee home, according to Nashville Scene. The 70-year-old had been battling cirrhosis.

The Texas native got his start as a professional musician when he 15, touring with Buddy Holly and Bobby Vee. After meeting the Stones in the early ’60s, he first played with them on the Let It Bleed track “Live With Me,” and would later record with them on such classics as “Brown Sugar,” and a majority of Exile on Main StreetHe also toured with them in the debauched early ’70s, and can be seen throwing a television off a hotel balcony alongside Keith Richards in the unreleased documentary Cocksucker Blues.

Keys had a brief falling out with the band after a notorious incident in which he filled a hotel bathtub full of Dom Perignon while entertaining a groupie on the band’s ’73 European tour. Thanks to the high cost of the champagne, Keys was fired from the group by Mick Jagger and actually owed them money after all was settled up. Keys was welcomed back into the Stones’ fold a few years later, recording on 1980′s Emotional Rescue  and every one of the band’s albums since. He performed with them on this year’s “14 on Fire” tour, but was too ill to accompany them on their recent Australian trek.

Outside of his work with the Stones, Keys released an eponymous solo album in 1972, featuring George Harrison and Ringo Starr. He would later play on some of their solo albums, including Harrison’s All Things Must PassKeys also played with the likes of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Barbra Streisand, Harry Nilsson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Carly Simon, Warren Zevon, the Who’s Keith Moon, and many more. He was even present for Lennon’s only post-Beatles recording session with Paul McCartney, a drug-fueled, “lost weekend”-era evening that was released as a bootleg called A Toot and a Snore in ’74. His official Facebook page posted the following statement this afternoon:

Early this morning our beloved husband, father, family member, and friend passed away peacefully at home in Franklin, TN. Bobby was surrounded by his family and loved ones. He will be greatly missed as he touched so many lives and made a lasting contribution to the American music scene. Bobby’s horn may be silenced here on Earth, but the music he graciously shared will eternally live on. In lieu or flowers and gifts, the family asks that contributions be made to St Jude’s Children Research Hospital and The Humane Society in his honor.