Bobby Keys, the longtime saxophonist for the Rolling Stones, has died at the age of 70. His death was greeted Tuesday with sadness by his former Stones bandmates, who said that they were “devastated by the loss of their very dear friend,” in a statement to Rolling Stone magazine.
The news of Keys passing was confirmed by Michael Webb, a keyboard player with the musician’s band the Suffering Bastards, according to the Nashville Scene. Keys had been suffering from cirrhosis and passed away at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, early Tuesday morning, Webb said.
During the course of his 55-year career in music, Keys played with music legends John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Buddy Holly, but was most famous for his work with the Rolling Stones, including for his saxophone performance on the classic track "Brown Sugar," according to The Guardian.
The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys... pic.twitter.com/mPWcVddiUr
— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) December 2, 2014
A Texas native, the musician began playing with bands as a teenager. Keys first encountered the Rolling Stones in the early '60s and went on to back them on some of their most iconic albums, including "Exile on Main St." and "Let It Bleed," according to Rolling Stone magazine. "If you believe in the magic of rock & roll, which I devoutly do, it isn't in the individual," Keys said in 2012. "I’ve played in bands with A-team players around, but unless they can play together, it doesn’t do any good."
Many took to Twitter on Tuesday to voice their sadness over Keys' passing and to salute his musical legacy:
I'm going to miss you, Bobby Keys. Here's to all the great music and happy memories we made together.... pic.twitter.com/RxZzTDScTa
— Bill Kreutzmann (@BKreutzmann) December 2, 2014
— Eddie Manion (@eddiemanion) December 2, 2014
RIP saxophonist Bobby Keys, who was once kicked off a Stones tour because he wouldn't get out of a Champagne-filled bathtub and go on stage
— Ethan Smith (@ethanwsj) December 2, 2014
RIP Bobby Keys. Loved what he brought to the Stones. His sound will live on forever.
— Dave Kaufman (@TheKaufmanShow) December 2, 2014
— David Beard (@dabeard) December 2, 2014
R.I.P. Bobby Keys, Stones/session sax man extraordinaire. Play "Brown Sugar" in his honor -- its recording started on this day in 1969.
— SmithOnMusic (@smithonmusic) December 2, 2014