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Music / Brian Jones

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Brian Jones circa 1964, with his signature Vox Mark VI guitar.

"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"

Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969) was an English musician from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire who formed and named The Rolling Stones in 1962.

He was the original leader of the Stones (which is evident in many of their early interviews), and at the start it was clearly his band. Even after he lost the leadership due to the song-writing partnership of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, he was still an integral part of the band musically right up to at least 1968. With the Stones, he recorded eight studio albums (ten American albums), one live album and three EP's. His years with the Stones (and the first few years with his replacement Mick Taylor) are generally considered to be their classic years. Along with Mick Jagger, he was the most popular member of the band in The '60s. A natural musician, his primary instrument was the guitar (as well as the harmonica) until around 1966 when he became an impressive multi-instrumentalist. Their albums from Aftermath to Their Satanic Majesties Request would simply not be the same without his contributions.


In 1967, Jones wrote and performed the film soundtrack to the German crime thriller A Degree of Murder, starring his then-girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Unfortunately, it hasn't received an official release to this day. The following year, Jones discovered and recorded with the Master Musicians of Joujouka, Morocco. The resulting album, Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, was released posthumously in 1971, and is Jones' only official solo release.

However, Jones had some serious personality issues that led to his declining role within the Stones. By 1969, he was barely contributing to their music, and it got to the point where Jones had to leave the band he started. Less than a month later, he drowned under suspicious circumstances in his pool at Cotchford Farm (originally owned by A. A. Milne). Conspiracy theories on whether Jones was murdered by builder Frank Thorogood or not remain popular to this day.


Jones was the first of the '60s rockers to join the infamous "27 Club". He would be followed by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, among others. His main legacy — The Rolling Stones — is now a legendary rock act that has been going strong for over 50 years. Despite Jones's flaws, Bill Wyman said of him: "As the years go by, I become even more convinced that he's entitled to a free pardon. Brian Jones is a legend and his legacy is there for all to hear. While the Rolling Stones damaged all of us in some way, Brian was the only one that died".

Live Discography:

Brian Jones provides examples of:

  • Badass Beard: He briefly donned one in the late '60s, as can be seen here.
  • Biopic: Stoned (2005) centers on Jones's life, career, and death (albeit with embellishments).
  • The Casanova: In his time, Brian was behind only Bill Wyman within the Stones in the number of girls he slept with.
  • Demoted to Extra: Originally the Stones' leader, Jones was relegated to an increasingly secondary role as the '60s progressed, due to the emergence of the Jagger-Richards partnership (Jones didn't write any songs, which made him far less important as the group's commercial ambitions grew), deteriorating relations with his bandmates (exacerbated by a Love Triangle between Jones, Richards, and Anita Pallenberg), and his own personal problems (including severe drug and alcohol abuse). As a result of all this, Jones contributed little to the Stones' music after 1967; his final album with the band, Let It Bleed, features him on just two tracks (congas on "Midnight Rambler" and autoharp on "You Got The Silver").
  • Domestic Abuse: According to Anita Pallenberg this was the source of their breakup, at one point allegedly punching her so hard he broke his hand on her face.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: In a memoir of his time living with the group in the early '60s, one-time Stones crony Jimmy Phelge relates how Jones had a strong aversion to his middle name (Hopkins) and tried to keep it a secret from the others.
  • In Memoriam: invoked The 1969 compilation Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) is dedicated to the then recently-deceased Jones, and the sleeve notes include an epitaph that he'd composed himself. The epitaph can be seen on the top of this page.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Jones supposedly came up with the name of The Rolling Stones while trying to get a club booking on the telephone. When the venue's manager asked Jones what his newly-formed group called themselves, he looked at a Muddy Waters album that was sitting on the floor and noticed the first track, "Rollin' Stone Blues".
  • Love Triangle: Him, Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards. Keith won due to Brian's abusive nature.
  • Man in White: Jones, in this presentation.
  • Outlived Its Creator: invoked The Rolling Stones has outlived Brian Jones by 50 years.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: For people who aren't big Stones fans Brian Jones is probably better remembered for his early death than his music.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: He became quite the fashion plate as the '60s progressed, arguably more than most of his contemporaries on either side of the Atlantic.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact: invoked Not just with the Stones, but with the culture of The '60s.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Brian Jonestown Massacre is partially named after Jones.
    • "Monterey" by Eric Burdon and the Animals mentions Jones, among others.
      His Majesty, Prince Jones smiled
      As he moved among the crowd
    • After Jones's departure (and demise), the Stones recorded a tribute song to Jones called "Shine a Light", which was released on Exile on Main St. in 1972.
    • "Godstar" by Psychic TV is a tribute to Jones about his death.
  • Solo Side Project: Jones wrote the soundtrack to the film A Degree of Murder in 1967, and produced the album Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, posthumously released in 1971.
  • Special Guest:
    • Jones guested on two songs by The Beatles: backing vocals and sound effects to "Yellow Submarine" and saxophone on "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)". The former is available on both Revolver and Yellow Submarine, and the latter on Past Masters.
    • Jones also plays percussion on "All Along the Watchtower" from Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He had also originally played piano on the song, but as he was intoxicated during recording, his superb natural musical abilities failed him for once, and his piano playing was eventually mixed out.
  • Stage Names: Jones initially called himself "Elmo Lewis" when the Stones started, after his idol Elmore James.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Jones sang co-lead vocals on one Stones song: Their Cover Version of "Walking the Dog" from their debut album. He also sang backup on a number of their early recordings.
    • Outside of the Stones, Jones contributed the lead vocals (as well as handclaps) to "365 Rolling Stones" by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra.
  • We Used to Be Friends: His relationship with Jagger and Richards sadly wound up this way.


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