NEW YORK – Rolling Stone Keith Richards, cigarette no doubt in hand, is working on a memoir, the object of a multimillion dollar bidding war that will be published by Little, Brown and Company in 2010.
"It will be his life's story," Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch said Tuesday. "For nearly 50 years, he has been at the very center of the vortex of stardom and of entertainment as a cultural force. He's a thread running through the whole thing."
Richards, the master riffer, legendary partier and songwriting/sparring partner with Mick Jagger, received $7.3 million for the book, according to a publishing insider with knowledge of the negotiations. Currently untitled, the memoir will be written with James Fox, an old friend of Richards' and author of "White Mischief."
"Keith is working with someone who has been a friend and is an extremely skilled writer. I know that James has also been talking with people close to Keith," says Pietsch, who declined to offer specific names or say whether Fox was talking with members of the Rolling Stones.
Richards and Jagger formed the Rolling Stones in the early 1960s and the band has stayed together despite numerous feuds, drug problems and the death of one original member, Brian Jones. Their many classic songs include "Start Me Up," "Brown Sugar" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash."
Richards' life and work have fascinated millions, but his story is hardly untold. Richards, 63, has been interviewed countless times, speaking candidly about his music, heroin addiction, love life and battles with Jagger. He is quoted extensively in "According to the Rolling Stones," an authorized oral history published in 2003.
"All those interviews have been scattered over decades," Pietsch says. "To have the story of his own life in one book, there's no experience like that. And there will be stories he has never uttered before."
Other Rolling Stones have written memoirs, including former bassist Bill Wyman and fellow guitarist Ron Wood, whose book is due this fall. Jagger has reportedly tried writing his autobiography, but given up, claiming he couldn't remember anything of interest.
Pietsch says that he has read some samples from Richards' book, and found them "delicious."
"The range and type of stories was exactly what you would hope to hear," Pietsch says. "The memories and the emotions, people wonder if he remembers anything, but I wish my memory was that good."