Longtime Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys has died at the age of 70.
The Nashville Scene reports Michael Webb, keyboardist for Bobby Keys and the Suffering Bastards, confirmed the players' death, saying the musician had been battling cirrhosis and passed away at his home in Franklin, Tennessee early Tuesday morning.
A native of Texas, Keys met The Rolling Stones at the San Antonio Teen Fair in 1964. The sax man first appeared on the band’s classic 1969 album, “Let It Bleed”, and performed on every Stones tour since 1970.
Keys played on the group’s 14 On Fire tour, but missed the final leg due to health issues.
“Due to being a bit under the weather, Bobby Keys will not be joining the Stones on the Australian and NZ tour dates,” posted the group on October 15. “Bobby is under doctor's orders to take it a bit easy for the next month and hopes to see everyone soon.”
In addition to his 40-plus-years with The Rolling Stones, Keys appeared on legendary recordings by John Lennon, Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand, B.B. King, Carly Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others.
“The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys,” said the band. “Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960s. He will be greatly missed.”
“Bobby, I have lost the largest pal in the world and I can’t express the sense of sadness I feel,” said Keith Richards, “although Bobby would tell me to cheer up. My condolences to all that knew him and his love of music.”
“Early this morning our beloved husband, father, family member, and friend passed away peacefully at home in Franklin,TN,” posted Keys’ family. “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.”
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