As Richards points out it was a time when you hung out with whoever had the records, so it may well have been a case of no Rolling Stones had either of them missed the train or chosen another compartment.

There's also a sense of the rush of events that transformed a bunch of blokes doing their best to replicate Chicago blues to the target of hysterical assaults from hordes of screaming feral, body-snatching teenage girls.

From there on, of course, much of the content covers familiar territory, and while there's not much that's new or overly outrageous, the events are largely given fairly mundane explanations. The explanation of the presence of a Mars Bar on a table beside a naked Marianne Faithful wrapped in a fur rug is because on acid suddenly you get sugar lack and you're munching away.

Not that such an explanation would have gotten the gutter press’s mind out of the gutter.

The demise of Brian Jones comes across as inevitable rather than tragic, as does the mayhem surrounding the Stones’ appearance at Altamont. Tours on one level are unbridled orgies, while Keef wanders around the itinerary wrapped in the tour cocoon and largely unaffected and uninfluenced by his surroundings.

The subjects of drug use and heroin addiction are treated with a matter of factness that’s totally unromantic. Those of us who remember the kerfuffle about hard drugs back in the day will be a little bemused by Richards’ assertion that under the National Health scheme addicts could, at that time, register with their GP and be given a regular supply of heroin pills along with the equivalent in pharmaceutical quality cocaine.

Addicts, of course, doubled their alleged consumption and sold off whatever was surplus to requirements.

He’s equally candid about most matters through the rest of the book, the recording of Exile On Main Street and the subsequent albums, the various tours, his slide into addiction and its influence on the power relationships within the band and the inevitable consequences for his working relationship with Mick Jagger when he stopped using.

One could continue, ticking off the topics as each is addressed, but that’s probably enough to be going on with.

Still, regardless of your familiarity with the plot line, it's an entertaining read, and ghost writer Michael Fox does an excellent job of capturing Richards' vocal mannerisms on paper. The audiobook, apparently, is read by Johnny Depp, who allegedly delivers a similar degree of verisimilitude.

As an initial foray into reading on the iPad, Life has prompted frequent return visits to Amazon, and in terms of a reading platform an index containing hyper-links actually works better than the index on a paper-based hard copy.

Life, in other words, will be sitting on the iPad for a while in case I need to check something for Interesting Times.

© Ian Hughes 2012