Happy Birthday Keith Richards & Bobby Keys: Performing Live With X-Pensive Winos In 1992

Today marks Keith Richards’ and his longtime collaborator Bobby Keys’ birthday. The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist and late great saxophonist were born on the exact same day, December 18, 1943 — Keith near London and Keys near Lubbock, Texas.

Bobby began his work as a sax man to the stars at age 15 when he began playing with fellow Lubbockite Buddy Holly and he would meet the Rolling Stones in San Antonio in 1964. Keith and Keys would not become close, however, until another legend, Gram Parsons, reintroduced them in the late 1960s. Keys would go on to play on a number of Stones songs — including the iconic sax on “Brown Sugar” — and was also a touring member of the band in the first half of the 1970s and beyond.

Keys was also close with Stones frontman Mick Jagger in the early 1970s. He was Mick’s best man when he married Bianca Jagger in May 1971. But the honeymoon didn’t last long. There’s more than one story as to why Keys departed the Rolling Stones 1973 tour in Frankfurt, one involving a bathtub full of champagne. But for whatever reason Keys and Jagger had a falling out. They would, however, reconnect in the 1980s with a little coaxing from Keith.

Bobby Keys sadly died on December 2, 2014 and Richards wrote a memorial for his friend. In it, he related a story about Bobby’s return to the Stones:

Years later, the Stones were rehearsing for another tour. This was 1980-something, and I bought Bobby a ticket and said, “Just get your ass here. When we rehearse ‘Brown Sugar,’ just sneak up and do the solo, man.” Once we did “Brown Sugar,” Bobby hit the solo and then I looked at Mick like, “You see what I mean, Mick?” And Mick looked at me and says, “Yeah, you can’t argue with that.” Once he just played those few notes, there really was no question. So Mick relented and said, “Okay, let’s get Bob back in the band.

Bobby remained a touring member with the Stones up until his death but also joined his friend Keith Richards’ side project the X-Pensive Winos. While Richards hasn’t dabbled much outside of the Stones, he recorded two albums with the Winos: 1988’s Talk Is Cheap and 1992’s Main Offender. On the tour for the latter, Richards brought his ace band including Keys, drummer Steve Jordan, vocalists Sarah Dash and Babi Floyd, bassist Charley Drayton, keyboardist Ivan Neville and guitarist Waddy Wachtel to Chicago’s WTTW Studios in late 1992 for a performance on the live music program Center Stage.

X-Pensive Winos kicked things off with “Take It So Hard,” the lead single from Talk Is Cheap before getting to material from Main Offender including “Wicked As It Seems,” “999,” “Yap Yap,” “Hate It When You Leave” and more. Keith also included Stones classics like “Gimme Shelter” and “Happy.” X-Pensive Winos closed out the set with “Whip It Up” from Talk Is Cheap.

In honor of Bobby Keys and to celebrate Keith Richards’ birthday, watch X-Pensive Winos’ Center Stage performance in 1992 below: