It’s understood that Brian Jones formed the Rolling Stones. He chose its members, picked their name and because of heavy drug use he blew it all away. His hold of the band slowly swayed to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ camp due to them being better songwriters and the urging of manager, Andrew Loog Oldam. It was common knowledge that his contribution was not in the songwriting arena, rather it was the nuances of the material that he was mostly responsible for. His fondness of American rhythm & blues was the foundation of early Rolling Stones recordings. His life story was always a “camp fire ” tribute amongst many rock bands. I’ve done many photo mantages in this piece so you can see in his eyes how troubled he was and that he had no where to go for solice.
Yet it was he that added eclecticism by playing the harmonica, slide guitar, marimbas and even the sitar for many Rolling Stones’ classics. I’ve discovered an incredible alternative version of their track “Ruby Tuesday” where Jones is playing the recorder and piano. It seemed that he always had the vision to make a song better and more compelling.
At a very young age he came down with a serious case of asthma and made constant visits to the hospital for treatment. He also was a fine follower of fashion as Bill Wyman said in his biography “Stoned Alone’, “Brian was quite a dandy dresser”.
He resisted the symbiosis demanded by the group lifestyle, and so life was becoming more desperate for him day by day. The Stones were remissed that Brian was totally cracking up in every way imaginable. He was ejected from the band about six months prior to his death. At the same time his respiratory illnesses became more serious and many times had to be hospitalized between recording sessions.
Jones had little patience with authority, convention and tradition. He was typical of many of his generation who had come to see the Stones as an expression of their whole attitude to life. They were the “Bad Boys of Rock n’ Roll”! Here it the greatest 15 minutes in Rock n’ Roll history! It doesn’t stop for a second. How many moves do you think Mick stole from James Brown?
In an attempt to patch things up and make some desperately needed money Jagger suggested that the Rolling Stones tour Europe. It was his feelings that going on the road would be the best thing for Jones and the band.
After much cajoling from Anita Pallenberg, his girlfriend at the time, he agreed to tour and take guitar lessons. I wonder who his teacher was?
As expected Brian Jones fell into an emotional tailspin during the tour. Plus he was undependable while working in the studio. At times he would pass out from drug exhaustion.
At this point the Stones decided it was time to eject Jones from the band and replace him with a blues young blues virtuoso by the name of Mick Taylor. This all occured during the recording of maybe the finest Rolling Stones album “Let It Bleed”.
On July 2, 1969 Brian Jones died of drowning in his swimming pool. There have been many stories that developed that foul play was involved but none of the conspiracy theories seemed to make it past folklore.
The coroner’s report stated “death by misadventure”, and noted his liver and heart were heavily enlarged by drug and alcohol . Jones was 27 at the time of his death; he is one of the well known members of the 27 Club. As the years went by books and movies told a story much different.
Notably absent from Jones’ funeral were Mick Jagger , Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg whom he had been dating before Richards swayed her away from him.