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Books Homes built on rock

February 7, 2019

“Rock Stars at Home,” a book that was issued in mid-January, shows Rolling Stones icon Keith Richards in a couple of his homes. You can barely tell that the two photos depict the same person.

The Keith Richards sitting cross-legged in a chair outside Redlands, his English estate, is shaggy and intense, glowering into the camera. It’s a relatively young Richards, around 30, in 1973.

To be fair, his life was a little upside-down at the time. Redlands was ruined in a fire, and some of his rescued possessions were strewn on the ground around him.

This catastrophic event followed years of wild parties and drugs, which at least once led to a police arrest.

Four pages later, it’s 1995, and Richards is in what became his main home, a colonial mansion in Weston, Conn. It’s clearly a new era for the rock star.

He’s lounging on a sofa, strumming a guitar and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that we’re told contain rare volumes. His expression is much more mellow.

Most of the chapter on Richards dwells on his life at Redlands, but it shares some details on the guitarist’s Connecticut estate, which he and wife Patti Hansen raised two daughters.

The home, which he purchased in 1985, is one of Fairfield County’s most famous homes. The book tells us that it’s an 8,000-square-foot mansion set on eight acres with river and lake views.

“Here, Richards set up a vast library and even considered ‘professional training’ to manage the thousands of books that he had acquired over the years,” writes Simon Spence, a journalist who contributed the chapter on Richards.

His wife is a former supermodel and actress who last year was the subject of another photo-driven book, “Patti Hansen: A Portrait” (Harry N. Abrams).

A lot of the other 200 archival photos in “Rock Stars at Home” depict more wacky and decadent abodes, and their pools, planes, music rooms and playgrounds.

The Who, Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, David Bowie, the Jacksons, Prince, Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John are among the 30 rock stars and groups whose homes are included here. It’s not just a photo book. Chapters are written by six collaborating authors and journalists who specialize in rock history and had access to insider accounts that give the visuals context.

Simon Spence, who wrote memoirs “Stoned” and “2Stoned” and the 2012 biography “The Stone Roses: War and Peace,” handles the chapter on Richards.

In the photos, Richards seems demure in comparison to some of the others, and his homes relatively conventional. And local readers might appreciate this small hint of what’s on the other side of his mansion’s walls.

“Rock Stars at Home” is published by Apollo and retails for $24.99.

Lee Steele is editor of Sunday Arts & Style. Email: lsteele@hearstmediact.com

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