The founder and creative multi-instrumentalist of the Rolling Stones
The legendary Brian Jones was born 79 years ago today
Legendary Brian Jones was born Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones on February 28, 1942, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Born during World War II to Welsh parents, Jones suffered from asthma as a child and throughout his life. His father and mother both played music, and by the time he was in high school, Brian had learned to play the piano, clarinet, saxophone, and guitar. Though Jones was incredibly bright, he was a lazy student. He quit school and left home shortly after a scandal in which he fathered an illegitimate baby boy who was subsequently given up for adoption. Jones soon moved to London to play blues guitar in local bars. In the spring of 1962, he formed the Rolling Stones with pianist Ian Stewart, singer Mick Jagger, and Jagger’s childhood friend and guitarist Keith Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and jazz-influenced drummer Charlie Watts soon joined the band. During the Rolling Stones’ early days, Jones served as the leader, entertainer, and manager for the band. As the most photogenic band member, his antics and fashion sense were quickly adopted by the swingers of 1960s London. In 1963, the band hired manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who helped them cultivate a rough, somewhat menacing persona. Oldham’s arrival also marked the decline of Jones as the ringleader. Jagger and Richard, who did much of the songwriting, soon moved into the spotlight. Though he was chiefly known as a guitarist, especially for the guitar weaving he did with Richards, Jones played numerous instruments during his years with the Stones: sitar, tamboura, dulcimer, keyboards, recorder, harmonica, xylophone, and marimba, among others. By the mid-1960s, Jones was feeling increasingly alienated by the band and became more and more dependent on drugs and alcohol. He was first arrested for drug use in May of 1967, and by May of 1968, he was recording his final substantial contributions with the Stones. On June 8, 1969, following the recording of Let it Bleed, Jones was asked to leave the band. A month later, on July 3, 1969, Brian Jones was found at the bottom of his swimming pool at his home in Hartfield, East Sussex, England. The death was ruled an accident. He was 27 years old.
By Ken Warren, 2017/18
Watching Brian Jones with the Rolling Stones on Ed Sullivan show in 1966 performing “Paint It, Black”
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