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Longtime Rolling Stones Sax Player Bobby Keys Dead at 70

Arts & Entertainment

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GETTY 12214 BobbyKeys?  SQUARESPACE CACHEVERSION=1417545271919Taylor Hill/FilmMagic(FRANKLIN, Tenn.) — Bobby Keys, the veteran saxophonist best known for his contributions to many classic Rolling Stones songs, died Tuesday morning at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 70.

Nashville Scene reports that Keys’ death was confirmed by Michael Webb, a keyboardist in the saxophonist’s group The Suffering Bastards. Webb tells the website that the legendary sax player had been battling cirrhosis of the liver.

Keys’ association with The Rolling Stones dates back to the group’s 1969 album Let It Bleed, and he played on all the band’s albums through 1973’s Goat’s Head Soup, as well as on 1980’s Emotional Rescue. Keys also toured with The Stones on and off for the last 45 years, but his health issues forced him to sit out the group’s recent Australia and New Zealand trek.

On Tuesday afternoon, a rep for the Stones released a statement that said, “The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys. Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960’s. He will be greatly missed.”

And Keys’ close friend, Stones guitarist Keith Richards, added a personal statement via Twitter, writing, “Bobby, I have lost the largest pal in the world and I can’t express the sense of sadness I feel though Bobby would tell me to cheer up. My condolences to all that knew him and his love of music.”

Born in Texas, Keys’ music career began when he was a teenager, during which time he performed with such stars as Bobby Vee and Buddy Holly’s backing group The Crickets.

He was an in-demand session player for decades, and is featured on recordings by such famed artists as John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Faces and Harry Nilsson, among many others.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio