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Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has signed a deal reportedly worth more than $7 million to write his autobiography, a tome that will trace his trek from cherubic choirboy to rock ‘n’ roll survivor.
The memoir will hit stores in the fall of 2010, said New York-based publisher Little, Brown and Co., which partnered with Britain’s Weidenfeld & Nicolson to secure worldwide English-language rights.
Media reports said on Tuesday a bidding war pushed the price above $7 million, a hefty sum given that music-based books are traditionally not big sellers. Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton reportedly received a $5 million advance for his upcoming memoir.
Richards will collaborate on the book with James Fox, author of the 1982 murder mystery “White Mischief.” The Stones guitarist becomes only the second member of the venerable band to write his memoir, following former bassist Bill Wyman, who wrote “Stone Alone” in 1990. Singer Mick Jagger started to write an autobiography, but soon got bored and abandoned the idea.
“Keith Richards has stood cool at the center of the hurricane for nearly fifty years,” Little, Brown’s Michael Pietsch said. “His story, in his own words — the band, the songs, the tours, the life — will be the most eagerly awaited book ever to come out of the hallowed halls of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Richards has never been shy about expressing his opinions in interviews, with Jagger often bearing the brunt of his acerbic wit. The guitarist got himself into big trouble with his own family this year when he claimed that he snorted the ashes of his dead father. He hastily backtracked after generating worldwide headlines.
Richards, whose passion for perpetuating the musical legacies of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry was almost surpassed by his unquenchable desire for drugs, was the shy, only child of a mother who spoiled him. He sang in the choir until his voice broke, and slipped into the role of juvenile delinquent.
He and childhood pal Jagger co-founded the Rolling Stones in 1962. Richards famously came up with the riff for “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in his sleep. He also was responsible for such tunes as “Ruby Tuesday,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Angie.”
He spent much of the 1970s in a heroin fog, eventually cleaning up, to a degree, when faced with the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence after he was arrested in Canada in 1977. He wrote about his struggles in the song “Before They Make Me Run.”
The Rolling Stones are now on tour in Europe. Richards remains a fan favorite, but his slurred speech, inconsistent playing and arthritic joints testify to his hard-living days.
Little, Brown and Weidenfeld & Nicolson are units of French media firm Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre.
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