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Why Brian Jones Was So Important To The Rolling Stones

Brian Jones was a musical innovator and multi-instrumentalist who was very much the inspiration for The Rolling Stones in their early days.

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If he was still alive, Brian Jones would be 76 years old. As it is he died tragically young, aged just 27, on 3 July 1969. He was in The Rolling Stones for seven years and his importance to the band in those early days cannot be underestimated. He truly was an innovator and despite his troubled life his influence on music should be recognised.

Brian Jones was one of the first people in Britain to play slide guitar and his love of the blues was at the heart of what he and the rest of The Rolling Stones were all about when they started out. His musicianship, especially in the early days of the band, added so much the singles that propelled The Rolling Stones into the pop charts; it was his fashion sense and his hairstyle, that appealed to both men and women, that were copied by bands on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones at the Park Nursing Home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on Saturday 28 February 1942. His parents were well-to-do, middle class and Brian went to a fee paying junior school before gaining a place at a local grammar school where he excelled. Brian’s father, who played the piano and the organ as well as leading the choir at their local church, had high hopes that his son would follow in his footsteps and go to university.

Brian’s overriding passion was music and around the age of sixteen he heard his first Charlie Parker record and as a result persuaded his parents to buy him a saxophone. This proved, like many things with Brian, to be a passing phase, and for his seventeenth birthday he was given an acoustic guitar. Having left school and deciding against university Brian had a succession of jobs before going to see the Chris Barber Band play a concert at Cheltenham Town Hall in 1961; their set included a blues segment featuring Alexis Korner. Brian became obsessed with the blues, practising slide guitar while listening to Elmore James and Robert Johnson records.

Brian was soon hitch-hiking to London where he would go to the Ealing Blues club sometimes sitting in with the Alexis Korners band. One night, Mick and Keith, on a visit to the club, saw Brian play slide guitar and were impressed with his playing of Elmore James’s ‘Dust My Broom’ . Soon after this Brian, Ian Stewart, Keith and Mick began rehearsing at Soho’s Bricklayers Arms pub and on 12 July 1962 they deputised for Alexis Korner’s band at the Marquee Club – they were billed as The Rollin’ Stones.

Brian’s musical prowess did not extend to composing but examples of his talent can be heard on numerous Stones recordings, among them, his slide guitar on ‘I’m a King Bee’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘No Expectations’ from Beggars Banquet. He plays the sitar on ‘Street Fighting Man’ and ‘Paint It, Black’, organ on ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, marimba on ‘Under My Thumb’ and ‘Out Of Time’, recorder on ‘Ruby Tuesday’; dulcimer and harpsichord on ‘Lady Jane’, saxophone and oboe on ‘Dandelion’, mellotron on ‘She’s A Rainbow’; his harmonica playing graces ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’ and ‘Prodigal Son’.

Brian Jones’ increasing estrangement from the band from around 1967 onwards led to him feeling isolated and unhappy with the musical direction of The Rolling Stones. In early 1969, he decided to leave the band that he had helped to form to try and find a new musical direction for his undoubted talents. Tragically in the early hours of 3 July 1969, aged 27 years old, Brian drowned in the swimming pool of his new home in Ashdown Forest, Sussex.

Follow The Rolling Stones’ Best Of playlist here.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Bob

    August 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    HiI importance cannot be ‘overestimated’…….

  2. Cândido Borges

    August 27, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    You’re so lovely… 🙂

  3. Cândido Borges

    August 27, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Another one comment ?! Well, well…farwell, it’s good enough?!

  4. Vayer

    April 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Brian JONES était l’image des Rollingstones, les autres ne l’ont pas aidés dans sa descente aux enfers, c’est regrettable.

  5. Barbara Striling

    July 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    He was so very young. Doesn’t it make you wonder what he would have been like and what he would’ve come up with had he lived. Another band? Reconciliation with the Stones?

  6. elhotrod

    July 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Brilliant musician, who was under a dsrk star at the time of his death. And, yes, for a time I had the hair with the long sideburns. Aftermath still one of my favorites, “Coming Home” a shocking song to me in high school, never heard anything like it, and loved it!

  7. Michelle Mladak

    July 3, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I LIKE EGGS

  8. Stew Blackburn

    October 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I served on board HMS ILLUSTRIOUS with one of Brian’s grandchildren, Luke Maynard was his name. A nice lad of about 19 when I knew him in 2012. I said I was a big fan and he said that his Dad was one of Brian’s ‘many’ kids ! I imagine there is a lot of Brian’s grandchildren out there.

  9. Pingback: Why Brian Jones Was So Important To The Rolling Stones | uDiscover – Megarock Radio – All Request Rock Radio

  10. Wendy Blume

    July 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Thank you Rolling Stones for remembering Brian.

  11. Jennifer W

    July 4, 2018 at 3:24 am

    Brian Jones was drug addled mess by the time he exited the Stones in 1969. He estranged himself from the rest of the band by passing out during recording sessions for BEGGARS BANQUET. By the time they started LET IT BLEED, he was incapable of playing instruments. The Stones had no choice but to send him home permanently. His talent was destroyed by drug addiction. That’s the real story.

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