I first met Bobby shortly after he moved to town. It was a pick up gig with Bobby Bradford. I remember Willie Weeks was on the bass and I don't remember who else. Bobby played the hell out of "Honky Tonk" and brought down the house. After that I used to run into him all over town - he loved to jam. He "needed" to play like most good players. All the practicing by yourself in the world isn't worth a damn if you don't have a good sense of bandmanship and Bobby was eat up with that, When to play, what to play, and what to not play, he knew, and that's why he was always welcome everywhere. Music brought him joy and it was contagious. I can't remember a bad night when Bobby was on the bandstand. What a fine gentleman.
I never heard Bobby mention the Rolling Stones except one time. It was another pick up gig of all places the Station Inn, a bluegrass venue that's older than dirt. Someone had told this not-so-young lady that Bobby played with a famous band, and she walked up and stood by the side of the stage. When the song was over she asked rather loudly, "What band to do you play with?". Mr Keys politely replied, "the Rolling Stones". She said "Who?", "the Rolling Stones ma'am", "I don't know who that is" she said and went back to her seat. Bobby gave me a world-weary smile and stuck his horn back in his mouth. She must have thought he played with somebody really famous like the Monkees or the Captain and Tennille.
Me and some other guys had a regular gig for about six months at a little joint down on the Rock Block, close to the college and that's where this picture was taken. It was loose and fun and we had lots of friends come down and sit in. Bobby used to show up quite a bit and play his butt off but he never would take any money. I guess he didn't need any or thought we needed it more. One time he tried to pay me and Doug Cook something like 50 bucks apiece to help him set up his new stereo. I snuck it in the refrigerator when he wasn't looking. It was only fair.
So long Mr. Bobby. Our loss is Heaven's gain.
Check out the Rolling Stone magazine article about the late, great Bobby Keys