BOBBY KEYS & IAN McLAGAN: Sounds Of Stones Sidemen (and Rock ‘n’ Roll) Silenced

MAC & KEYS: One year ago this week we lost two titans who helped shape the sound, course, and texture of roughly a half-century of rock music, not to mention that of their frequent collaborators and employers, the Rolling Stones, who benefitted greatly from their skillful, soulful mastery on the horns and keys. I’d like to think of my small tribute and remembrance as a toast to Bobby and Mac, whose contributions may have come from the side of the countless stages they graced, but whose playing and personalities were frequently at the heart of all the spirited rock & roll we all heard — and continue to hear. Their legacies will live on as long as people have ears — and taste.

RPM: Jonathan Perry's Life in Analog

Bobby Keys Bobby Keys

Ian McLagan Ian McLagan

Official portraits and lineup cards of the band notwithstanding, both in the studio and on stage the Rolling Stones have always wisely employed, and relied upon, a small nucleus of collaborators, co-conspirators, and simpatico sidemen to help them flesh out  and embroider “that Stones sound” we all grew up on. And despite the Stones’ best efforts for much of the past 50 years to disprove the theory that nothing lasts forever, this week’s news that saxophone colossus Bobby Keys and pianist/organist Ian McLagan, two titans to the side of the Stones stage, have died brings a stark, sudden, and sad reminder that even the Stones (and those close to them, especially) are not immune to the laws of nature.

The Stones have always been especially rough on piano players. First, founding Stones member and longtime road manager/sideman Ian “Stu” Stewart died in 1985 at the age of 47. British session musician/magician Nicky…

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