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BOOK REVIEW: Gus & Me by Keith Richards & Theodora Richards

| 18 December 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Gus & Me by Keith Richards & Theodora Richards
Hatchette Books
September 2014, rrp$28.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
9.5/10

Gus And Me by Keith & Theodora Richards - book cover

As lead guitarist of The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards is revered by millions, and through a 50 year career has been photographed in just about every pose possible, and interviewed about every minute factoid of his life, yet here, with the help of his daughter Theodora Richards who contributes the drawings that adorn every page, he tells one of the simplest and most important tales of his life.

As a child Richards would look forward to outings with his grandfather Theodore Augustus Dupree – ‘Gus’ as he was known, even to his grandson. A big band player and talented musician, it was Gus who inspired and encouraged Richards to take up the guitar, starting him on the journey to become the fabled ‘human riff’, a man who lives and breathes rock n’ roll and who helped change the social and musical fabric of our times.

Richards tells the story of that early inspiration (with help from Barnaby Harris & Bill Shapiro) simply and affectionately, and Theodora’s chicken-scratch illustrations contain a similarly simple but effective charm.

Gus & Me evokes a simpler time – just post WWII – whilst never placing too much distance between the now and then: after all, this is a tale of inspiration, and every musician throughout all of history has been inspired by something.

The book also comes with a CD of Richards playing the Malagueña, an acoustic piece by Cuban musician Ernesto Lecuona. This was the first song Gus taught Richards on the guitar, as he considered it “the perfect foundation for learning the guitar because it uses a finger-style technique that contributes crucially to developing a guitarist’s tone.”

The true measure of this book’s worth came when after reading it with my seven-year-old, she sat deep in thought, obviously processing something that lit a spark inside of her. “I don’t know why, Daddy,” she said in a hushed but excited tone, “but I want to play the ukulele now…”

Keith would no doubt feel proud.

Shane

Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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