Happy Birthday Brian Jones

75 years ago today, a man named Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.

He would later be known as Brian Jones, the founder of the Rolling Stones.

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Brian Jones, circa 1965.

For those who may not know, I am an enormous Rolling Stones fan, and have been for many years. I have always been really irritated by the fact that so many people, including those who seem to be fairly knowledgable about rock music, don’t appear to have ever heard of Brian Jones. Given his many unique musical contributions to several of the band’s hit songs from 1962 to 1968, it’s a damn disgrace that this guy has never received the recognition he deserves.

 

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Brian with the band (from left: Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger. 

That all being said, Brian had his demons. He was a very emotional person, and he consumed a great deal of drugs (this was actually a couple of years before the onset of Keith’s very long tangle with heroin). He had awful mood swings, and was prone to self-isolation. The Stones formed in 1962, and by 1967 Brian had already become estranged from the other members of the band. His last contributions were on Beggar’s Banquet, and his final public appearance as a Rolling Stone was in Rock and Roll Circus in December of 1968.

Brian would be  officially replaced in June of the following year, by Mick Taylor.

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The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1968) – If you can find this, you should watch it because it is AMAZING!

 

In the earliest hours of July 3, 1969, Brian Jones was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm (coincidentally the house where A.A. Milne authored the Winnie-the-Pooh books). The cause of death was attributed to overuse of drugs and alcohol which enlarged his liver and heart, and presumably caused him to fall into the pool and drown.

Unfortunately, by the time Brian died, the world of rock & roll music had already moved on. It’s odd; although he was only 27 years old at the time of his death, he is seldom included in “27 club” memorials. This bothers me in a very personal way. I recall one night, when I was in college, where I attended one such memorial that was taking place on my campus. Upon realizing that Brian Jones was omitted from the ceremony, I proceeded to make a big to-do, and stormed out. I huffed and puffed around for the rest of the night (a bit excessive yes, but I suppose that’s just the way I am).

 

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This is definitely either ’66 or ’67. Not sure which, but if I had to guess I’d say 1966.

Perhaps one day I will write a longer piece about Brian Jones. I do have several years of notes that could be put to good use… It’s funny how people can have a powerful presence for a short period of time, only to be forgotten soon after. Brian was friends with many of the biggest names in music, including Jim Morrison, who would die exactly two years later, at the same age. Unless I am seriously mistaken (which I doubt), Morrison wrote a beautiful statement after Jones’ death. I wish I had it in front of me, but I definitely have a copy of it somewhere.

All the dark stuff aside, some of my favorite anecdotes about Brian come from another dead figure I feel close to, Andy Warhol. Andy and Brian met early on, I believe in 1964. In POP:ism The Warhol Sixties, Andy refers to “…tiny Brian with his pale, pale skin and fluffy strawberry blond hair…”.

That one always makes me chuckle.

 

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A rare shot of Andy and Brian together, taken by Nat Finkelstein in 1966.

 

Well, that concludes tonight’s post. I’m rather busy this week, but new content will be forthcoming.

Thanks for reading.

~GCL~

 

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