Brian Jones

This brilliant, multi-talented musician who attempted - albeit unsuccessfully - to juggle heavy drug use with his musical output, died under questionable circumstances on the 3rd of July, 1969. Instead of a chronological setting with the inevitable ending, I have collected images and information which sway freely to and from the early moments of his career and the end of his physical life.

Born on February the 28th, 1942 to Lewis and Louisa in a small town some 120 miles out of London, Brian Jones would live all but 27 years. He met his end in the bottom of a swimming pool at his Cotchford Farm home (once owned by famed "Winnie the Pooh" author A. A. Milne.)

Allegations of murder have surfaced since that fateful day, among them unfounded accusations towards any three or more laborers whom were working on Brian's home at the time; rumors that we will not dignify by naming the individuals involved. Despite a report years later of a "death-bed confession", it will not be discussed here in detail. A great talent in the midst of recovery from drug and alcohol dependency was lost, and though it is easy to jump to conclusions about the circumstances surrounding his demise, we respectfully decline to do so. It is of course also important to discover the truth - and if it is other than what is known, we hope it surfaces.


Sad Day
The unflattering photo featured
in NYC papers following his death.

Erected in his birth place of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, memorials of Brian (Lewis Hopkin) Jones now stand. A more significant life-size statue of his likeness awaits unveiling much to the dismay of many residents whom remember him more for his troubles than his accomplishments. It may however still serve as a token of some pride as he is gazed upon as one of their own who made a name for himself to the world abroad. The legacy he left behind, including an unknown number of offspring to either underage or at times married women, have for the most part been forgiven since his life came to an unfortunate end some 35 years ago. There could be no doubt of his place in the annals of popular music history, something the residents of Cheltenham clearly recognized. Though most commonly regarded as the founder of the Rolling Stones, it does Brian no justice to imprison his talent to such a singular event. Among select others, he was a representative of the sixties musical output as a whole.

1942-66: The Rise of a Musical Visionary... words from a proud father, Lewis Jones.

"Up to a certain point, Brian was a perfectly normal, conventional boy who was well behaved and well liked. He did his studies. He was quite a model school boy. Then came this peculiar change in his early teens. He began to have some resentment of authority. He seemed to have first a mild rebellion which unfortunately became stronger as he grew older."

"For many years from the formation of the Stones, up to the end of 1966, Brian was extremely happy. What I firmly believe was the turning point in Brian's life was when he lost the only girl he ever truly loved. He changed suddenly and alarmingly from a bright enthusiastic young man to a quiet, morose, and inward-looking young man. His mother and I were quite shocked by the change in his appearance, and in our opinion, he was never the same boy again. It was at that time I think that he got mixed up with drugs perhaps, if indeed he was."

1966-69: The Decline and Fall of a Rollin' Stone.

"There were signs towards the end of his life when I would come down and see him that he was beginning to settle and he appeared calmer and he was becoming more outward looking. I feel if fate had been a little more kinder to him that he would have built up a life again with maybe a different kind of music and a different kind of group."


©Philip Townsend
Brian strikes a leader's pose in 1963.

It is said that Brian was strongly against the idea of writing new material, and hoped the Stones would remain a blues 'cover' band as they were until late 1965. This was essentially Brian's band at first, and many strongly believe that he played the role of promotional representative and co-manager for the first few years. It was Brian's determination that brought the Stones to success so quickly. However, Mick [Jagger] was a talented writer and savvy businessman himself who's cooperation with Keith Richards became a prized commodity. The simple fact that Mick attracted so much attention was enough to break such an emotional soul (as was Brian's), but he found it more difficult to accept what was ever-increasingly clear ... that the band was heading in the direction that his lead singer wanted and not his own.


Better days on tour with the Stones in 1964.
(Jones, Wyman, Watts, Jagger, Stewart, and Richards from left)

 

He gained the respect of many fellow musicians throughout his short career, such as the Beatles whom asked that he play a part in the recording sessions for Sgt. Pepper in 1967. Though You Know My Name (look up the number) was not included on Sgt. Pepper, it can be found on the Beatles' Past Masters Volume Two, and more recently (in complete form) on Anthology 2.

Though jobs of the other Stones were generally centralized to one or two roles, Brian's role was not so simply defined. He was the band's utility player on piano, guitar, harmonica (harp), drums, or whatever else was needed. At times, though more so in the earliest period, he had a strong hand in influencing the musical direction of the group. We witness a highlight in the sitar he introduced to the #1 single Paint It, Black. As Mick Jagger stated in his 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Brian "...often took us off our bluesy course, with at times marvelous results."

 

[1967] Among Jones' last stage performances with the Stones.


Brian digs for buried treasure as Hendrix is left to ponder.

Brian Jones never released a solo music album or single. He did however begin a project (completed posthumously in 1971) bearing his name, though it was not of his own work. Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka was little noticed, but the inclusion of his name in the title did help to have the obscure Moroccan musical form recognized at a broader level. He played no part in the recordings, other than as a co-producer. Many incarnations of these recordings can be found on CD. It has been told that Moroccan artists to this day pay tribute to Brian in song.

<Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka.

During his lifetime, Brian (along with future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page) provided the score to the rarely seen film 'Mord und Todschlag (A Degree of Murder)', yet it was never released officially in any form in either the US or UK. The only remnants of this work are occasional screenings at small independent theatres or on public television stations after the midnight hour. Though quite rare in itself, there is a CD which surfaced a few years back claiming to be the "A Degree of Murder" soundtrack. In actuality, someone recorded the music directly off a television broadcast using a hand-held microphone pressed against the speaker. This is a deplorable method of audio reproduction, as a result, the sound quality reflects this and the CD should be avoided.

It is to note that Brian granted only few interviews to the press after 1964. Be wary of 'interview' tapes or CDs, as it is not unlikely that it will fail to contain a single word spoken by Brian himself.

[Though no one doubts the year of his death as being 1969, debate has surfaced regarding the year of birth. While photographs and documents show Brian's birth year as being 1942, his tombstone has '1943' inscribed.]

Brian had a close relationship with his fans and, to this day, many have fond memories of him beyond admiration of his musical talent. Though he may have tried, he failed to overcome his addictions until after he was forced to leave the Rolling Stones in 1969. His last full tour as a member was in 1966, after which he would only make few sporadic appearances, the final being the Rock and Roll Circus in December of 1968. As described by fellow Stones' members, he had become a ball and chain by 1967. After two years, it was obvious that the band could not afford to drag him around to shows and recording sessions just so he could be too drunk or high to function. His final musical output with the band was released on the 1969 Let it Bleed album.

Brian's Legacy in the Flesh:


Julian Mark

Brian was first a first-time father at the age of 16. Though the 'facts' regarding the true lineage of other children have come into question, at least five (5) children are known to exist or have existed.

1959 (m?/d?) - Simon (originally Barry David), son born to 14-year-old student Valerie Corbett. The baby would later be adopted.
1960 (Aug. 4) - unknown, daughter born to a married Cheltenham woman.
1961 (Oct. 22) - Julian Mark, son born to Pat Andrews.
1964 (Jul. 23) -
Julian Brian, son born to Linda Lawrence.
1965 (Mar. 24) - John (Paul Andrew), son born to Dawn Molloy, later adopted.
Read the 2005 Dawn Molloy Interview here.

It is said that Brian consistently asked the mothers of his children that if the child was a boy, he be named Julian. Brian was an avid admirer of Jazz great Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.


Excerpt from an actual letter written by Brian.

<His last professional photo ©Michael Cooper.
Original news article from 1969.

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND, July 10, 1969- Scores of teenage girls wept
outside an ancient parish church here
where Rolling Stone Brian Jones was
once a choir boy and where his last rites
were held today.
Hundreds of miniskirted long-haired girls
heard Rector Hugh Hopkins, who confirmed Jones,
speak of "Brian the rebel".
Reading the Scripture story of the prodigal son,
Hopkins said Jones "had little patience with
authority, convention and tradition"

"Typical of Generation"
In this, Hopkins said, "he was typical of many
of his generation who have come to see in the
Rolling Stones an expression of their whole
attitude to life. Much that this ancient church has
stood for 900 years seems totally irrelevant to
them. And yet it is not humbug to come here
today to offer our prayers on this tragic occasion."
Hopkins also offered prayers for Marianne
Faithfull, ill in an Australian hospital. Her close
friend, singer Mick Jagger, in Australia with
her to make a film, was the only Rolling Stone
not present. Mick Taylor, who recently took
Jones' place in the group, was there with Keith
Richard, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.

 


July 5, 1969, Hyde Park, London

 

Brian Jones 1942-69

When this you see, remember me

and bear me in your mind

Let all the world say what they may,

speak of me as you find

 

 

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