Brian Jones founded the Rolling Stones. He gave them the name. He was his manager. And he brought his talents as a brilliant multi-instrumentalist to both recording sessions and concerts. On June 8, 1969, after seven years in the group, his colleagues kindly told him that he no longer had him. As Keith Richars recalls, “It was kind of like, ‘Hey, you’re fired.’
They all used drugs, but Jagger felt that “Jones was taking too much.” The next day, the musician officially announced it and three weeks later, he was found dead at the bottom of the pool at his house. Tragically he became another member of the “Club of 27”.
Blues enthusiast Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones made his mark on the Rolling Stones’ first seven albums: from the band’s self-titled debut in 1964, to Beggars banquet (1968), the last he featured. He also contributed two songs to the following, Let it bleed (1969), which was released after his death, and the hit Jumpin ‘Jack Flash which was recorded at the same sessions and released in May 1968.
“It does not satisfy me either artistically or personally”
His life as a ‘rock star’ did not satisfy him “neither artistically, nor personally.” This was confessed in a 1965 interview that appears in the documentary Crossfire Hurricane. This inability to find pleasure was evident in his behavior towards his companions. His frustration increased when Jagger and Richards took the lead role and Jones was relegated to a mere instrumentalist. As if that weren’t enough, his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg had left him for Richards in 1967. At this point, Jones had increased his interest in drugs. And his mental and physical instability took its toll. Also his problems with the law: in 1969, he had been arrested twice for drug possession. In May of that year, he crashed his motorcycle into a store window and entered the hospital using a pseudonym.
In addition, the Stones were scheduled to tour America and learned that Jones had been denied a passport due to legal problems. It was the last straw. Or the excuse the band needed to get rid of their volatile partner.
In addition, the Stones were planning a tour of America and learned that Jones had been denied a passport due to legal problems.
“My music … is no longer the music of the Stones”
On June 8, 1969, Jagger, Richards, and Watts met at Brian Jones’ country house, at Cotchford Farm, in the town of Hartfield, Sussex. After a long conversation, they agreed that he could not remain in the group. Jones accepted an award of $ 200,000, plus an annual salary of $ 40,000 for as long as the band was active. Likewise, they gave him the option to choose how he publicly announced his departure.
The next day, Brian Jones issued a statement that read: “I no longer agree with the rest of the group regarding the records we make … I want to make my own music, which is no longer the music of the Stones. The music that Mick (Jagger) and Keith (Ricards) have been writing has evolved in a direction away from my own tastes. “
The Rolling Stones musician Brian Jones (1942-1969), photographed in 1968. / Mark and Colleeen Hayward/Redferns
Mick Jagger: “The best thing for him was to leave”
A day after Brian’s statement, Mick Jagger confirmed the news: “We had known for a few months that Brian had lost his enthusiasm. He no longer enjoyed it and it showed when he went on stage, so we had to sit down with him and talk about it. We decided that the best thing for him was to leave ”. No one said anything about the Jones’ future plans, though Mick added: “He’s going to do his own thing, and he doesn’t have to tell us anything about it.”
At the same time, he announced the name of his replacement, Mick Taylor, who had left John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers a few weeks earlier. According to Mick, Taylor was chosen because “he belongs to John Mayall’s school of guitarists, people like Peter Green and Clapton.”
Bill Wyman: “He felt sad, isolated and obviously unhappy”
Little by little, Jones had become a burden to the group. His substance abuse caused him to frequently forget tour dates or recording sessions. And he was unable to work in the band when he came.
Bassist Bill Wyman wrote of Jones in his 1991 autobiography Stone Alone: “For two years, not only had he become physically vulnerable from his drug addiction, but within the Stones he felt sad. , isolated and obviously unhappy ”.
For his part, Mick Jagger spoke about Brian Jones’ unfortunate decline in the last years of his short life: “Keith and I used drugs, but Brian was taking too many drugs of the wrong kind and he wasn’t functioning as a musician. I don’t think he was interested in contributing to the Rolling Stones any longer. You did not know if it was going to appear and in what condition it was going to be … and then, what was it going to be able to do in that state. What job could we give him? “
Keith Richards recalled in the documentary 25 × 5: The Continuing Adventures Of The Rolling Stones: “Mick and I had to go down and say something like ‘Hey, you’re fired’ to Brian. It made it easier. He wasn’t surprised. We couldn’t even consider hitting the road with him. But at the same time, no one expected things to happen like this. “
Charlie Watts admitted that he felt guilty for firing Jones: “I’m sorry for what we did to him.”
Brian Jones, original frontman of the Rolling Stones
The pivotal role Brian Jones played in the success of the Rolling Stones cannot be underestimated. He was the original leader and laid the foundations of the group, as Wyman himself highlights in his 1990 memoir ‘Stone Alone’: “He formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got the concerts. “
Musically he was an innovator and possessed an undeniable ability to play any instrument. On the Stones’ early records, he can be heard playing the harmonica, sitar, organ, trumpet, trombone, sax, oboe, cello … as well as a wide variety of guitars.
An image of Brian Jones’ funeral in 1969. / Michael Webb/Keystone/Getty Images
Although not credited, he co-wrote and played the flute on Ruby Tuesday, the sitar and tambora on Paint it black, the dulcimer on I am waiting and Lady Jane, the guitar riff on Get off my cloud, the harpsichord. in Yesterday’s papers, the trumpet and trombone in Something happened to me yesterday, the marimba in Under my thumb, the autoharp in You got the silver, the organ in Let’s spend the night together, the melotron in She’s a rainbow, or the harmonica at Not fade away, 2120 South Michigan Avenue and Prodigal are.
Jones passed away on July 3, 1969, just over three weeks after being fired. They found him dead at the bottom of the pool at his country home in Hartford, England.