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Bobby Keys, Who Played Saxophone For The Rolling Stones, Dies At 70

Updated at 3:44 p.m.

Bobby Keys, the legendary saxophonist most associated with The Rolling Stones, has died. He was 70 years old.

The Associated Press quoted Michael Webb, who played keyboard with Keys, as saying the musician died Tuesday at his home in Franklin, Tenn., after a long illness. He had performed with the Stones earlier this year before his health prevented him from continuing on tour. NPR's Neda Ulaby, who is reporting on Keys for our Newscast unit, adds that Keys had battled cirrhosis.

The Stones posted this message on Twitter:

Stones guitarist Keith Richards, a longtime friend of Keys and who was born on the same day, Dec. 18, 1943, as the saxophonist, tweeted:

During the course of his career, Keys played with everyone from John Lennon to Eric Clapton, but it was work with the Stones for which he was most famous. His distinctive style on the saxophone can be best heard on songs like the Stones' classic "Brown Sugar."

NPR's Ulaby adds: Keys "never learned to read music but he went on to record with Barbra Streisand, Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, BB King and John Lennon. Keys was good friends with Keith Richards and actually got kicked out of the Rolling Stones for partying too hard in the 1970s. But he rejoined the band and played with them in total for more than 40 years."

We'll leave you with a performance of "Brown Sugar" from 1972.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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