The Rolling Stones have released an official statement on the death of longtime sideman Bobby Keys, while Keith Richards offered his own handwritten, heartbroken tribute.

"The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys," the Stones said on Facebook. "Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960s. He will be greatly missed."

Keys, born the same days as Richards, is best known for a string of performances on classic turn-of-the-'70s albums, including 'Let It Bleed,' 'Sticky Fingers' and 'Exile on Main St.' -- most notably adding a first-take turn on the 1971 hit song 'Brown Sugar.' He continued with the group through 2005's 'A Bigger Bang,' and was part of the latest leg of the Rolling Stones' ongoing world trek until his health began to fail.

"I have lost the largest pal in the world," Keith Richards writes in the Facebook post, which you can see below. "And I can't express the sense of sadness I feel -- although Bobby would tell me to cheer up."

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