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The Rolling Stones‘ longtime saxophonist, Bobby Keys, has died, aged 70. Posting to their Facebook page, the Stones have paid tribute to Keys and his history with the band. “The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys,” the group wrote. “Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960s. He will be greatly missed.”
The Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards posted a hand-written note (below) to his Facebook page, writing, “Bobby, I have lost the largest pal in the world and I can’t express the sense of sadness I feel, although Bobby would tell me to cheer up.
“My condolences to all that knew him and his love of music,” Richards added. Michael Webb, keyboardist for Bobby Keys and the Suffering Bastards, has reportedly confirmed to Nashville Scene that Keys passed away at his home in Franklin after a battle with cirrhosis, a result of advanced liver disease.
Keys was set to join the Stones on their Australian tour in March, playing shows with The Suffering Bastards even after the band postponed the tour. Keys pulled out of the group’s rescheduled 2014 Australian and New Zealand tour dates in October that year, due to poor health.
Keys lent his musical talents to Stones album such as 1969's Let It Bleed, 1971's Sticky Fingers and 1972's Exile on Main Street. One of his most famous solos appears in the Stones’ track Brown Sugar (below).
Keys, who also played saxophone alongside artists such as John Lennon, Buddy Holly and Eric Clapton during his 50-plus years in the industry, played with the Stones during their headline set at Glastonbury in 2013.
Watch: The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (Live)
Watch: Bobby Keys and the Suffering Bastards – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (Live at the Basement, Sydney)