Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the British musician. For the balloonist, see Brian Jones (aeronaut)
Brian Jones (February 28, 1942 - July 2, 1969) was the original lead guitarist and backing singer behind Mick Jagger in The Rolling Stones. Born Lewis Brian Hopkin-Jones in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, he was also the group's original leader, but whereas his intention was to bring the "authentic" rhythm and blues sound to white audiences in the UK, Jagger and second guitarist Keith Richards had their sights set on stardom. Their manager Andrew Loog Oldham did not get along with Brian very well and preferred that Jagger and Richards become the band's songwriters and leaders. Brian gave in to them and gradually gave up control of the group and Keith's image was promoted somewhat more heavily, with him taking more of the spotlight (backing vocals and guitar solos) and Brian receiving less. Nevertheless Brian did show incredible musical skill, having the ability to master a myriad of instruments: throughout his years with the band he played guitar, slide guitar (he was the first known English musician to do so), piano, sitar, organ, dulcimer, mellotron, xylophone, marimbas, recorder, clarinet and several other instruments besides. It is rumoured that, upon being given his first sitar, he went into his room and mastered the complicated instrument within 30 minutes. In the Stones' early years Brian would give Richards guitar lessons and showed Jagger how to play the harmonica properly. Brian's signature guitar, seen pictured, is a teardrop-shaped prototype Vox Phantom Mark III, though he used many others throughout his career.
Brian contributed significantly to many of the Rolling Stones' more popular songs - he played slide guitar on "Little Red Rooster", "No Expectations" and "Jig-Saw Puzzle", sitar on "Paint It Black" and "Street Fighting Man", and lead guitar on "Get Off Of My Cloud" and "It's All Over Now", among others. He also reportedly authored the song "Ruby Tuesday" (on which he played piano, recorder and sang backing vocals) and the guitar riff on "Honky Tonk Women", however both songs were ultimately credited to Jagger and Richards. "Honky Tonk Women" was the last song to feature Brian, and the only Rolling Stones song to feature both Brian's and Mick Taylor's guitar work (although Jagger and Richards attempted to edit out Brian's).
Jagger and Richards, for their part, gradually became more and more hostile towards Jones, though it is uncertain what exactly caused this rift. By some reports they were abusive to Jones throughout the Stones' career, and by others Jones was too intoxicated to contribute anything meaningful in his later years. In the summer of 1967 Jones's girlfriend Anita Pallenberg ran off with Richards, worsening the rift. It is rumored that the guilt Richards felt from betraying Jones contributed greatly to his famous heroin habit in the 1970s. On one occasion Jones arrived at the studio in the middle of a session, asking "What can I play?". Jagger replied "I don't know, Brian, what can you play?".
In early June 1969, he was dropped from the band and replaced by virtuoso guitarist Mick Taylor (who, it was rumoured, had already started working with the band weeks before Brian was sacked under the guise of an "amicable split"). Towards the end of his life, he stopped most of his drug use, but Brian nevertheless drowned almost a month later in his swimming pool, seemingly under the influence of alcohol and sedatives. The coroner's report stated "Death by misadventure." However, his then-girlfriend Anna Wohlin claimed in 2000 that he had been murdered by a builder who had been staying with them renovating the house the couple shared. The builder, Frank Thorogood, reputedly confessed to the murder on his deathbed but passed away before a confession could be recorded by the authorities.
As well as a rock star, Jones was a popular fashion icon. As the most photogenic member of the Rolling Stones, his style of dress did more to influence the fashion scene of swinging 1960s London than perhaps any other musician. He was also known for deliberately walking around crowded streets until girls would recognize him and start chasing him, at which point he would run away as fast as he could. He was probably the inspiration for the opening scene of the movie Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, in which a similar thing happens to the title character. He was of small stature at 5'6", with blue-green eyes and blond hair, and had an IQ of 135. Despite being born with asthma he was a heavy smoker. Living a notorious lifestyle in which he fathered several children to almost as many women and indulged in copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, he was buried in a lavish silver and bronze casket sent for his funeral in Cheltenham, England (Where he was born, raised and had attended Pate's Grammar School) by friend Bob Dylan.
Throughout his life, Jones knew and was friends with various musicians and celebrities. He was a longtime friend of blues musician Alexis Korner, and throughout his life would befriend Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Pete Townshend, among others. He reportedly used LSD with actor Dennis Hopper in a tent at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where he met Hendrix and Frank Zappa. He attended the festival with the singer Nico, then of the Velvet Underground, with whom he had a brief romantic relationship. Although he did not play at the festival his appearance earned him the title "king of the festival". Upon meeting Zappa for the first time, a drunken Jones burped in his face.
He recorded, in 1968, Morocco the Master Musicians Of Jajouka, the first person to do so. In 1971, Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Jajouka was released and is thus the first World Music release. Mick Jagger returned to Jajouka in 1989 to record the musicians for the Stones album Steel Wheels. Jones' recording of the Jajouka musicians brought much attention to this and other unique traditions worth knowing about. He expanded many minds and many musical vocabularies.
- Gered Mankowitz, Brian Jones: Like a Rollin' Stone
- R. Weingartner, A tribute to Brian Jones
- Terry Rawlings (1994), Who Killed Christopher Robin?: The Life and Death of Brian Jones, ISBN 0752209892
- Laura Jackson (1992), Golden Stone: The Untold Life and Tragic Death of Brian Jones, ISBN 0312098200
- R. Chapman, "The bittersweet symphony", Mojo, 68 (July 1999), pg.62-84
- Bill Wyman and Ray Coleman, Stone Alone, ISBN: 0670828947
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