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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Bobby Keys, RIP

Bobby Keys, a tremendous rock, blues, and funk saxophonist, and a lucky Texas boy who just happened to be in the right place at the right time 50 years ago, has passed away. He played with Buddy Holly briefly as a teenager (Holly was from Lubbock, while Keys was from Slaton, 20 miles down the road), crossed paths with The Rolling Stones in San Antonio in 1964, then met them again five years later, which began his long association with the band, an association which in turn led Keys to be invited to jam with, tour with, or just sit in on sessions with a veritable Who's Who of rock royalty: Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, B.B. King, John Lennon, Graham Nash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and more. But he always stuck close to his Southern and Texan roots, something which was very much on display as he joined the ferocious country-blues band of guitarist Joe Ely on stage in Fort Worth five and half years ago, which was when I saw him live:

I'll tell the truth: I was there because a friend invited me, and he was there for Ely. Neither of us had heard of Keys before, or if we had, we hadn't remembered. When Ely pointed to Keys and mentioned he played with The Rolling Stones, we figured it was some small studio gig. But then we went and did our research and realized we'd heard Mr. Brown Sugar himself tearing up that Buddy Holly classic that night. What a show, and what a showman he was. Mr. Keys, RIP.

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