The death of Brian Jones in 1969 was an early indicator of the road ahead. By 1971, many of the counterculture era’s figureheads would be gone, with Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin all dying within a year of each other. Today, we’d like to take you back to 1964 to see Jones and The Rolling Stones discuss their first North American tour.
In 1969, Brian Jones – guitarist and informal band leader of The Rolling Stones – was found drowned in the swimming pool of his Sussex farmhouse. East Sussex coroner Dr Angus Sommerville found that the musician had died while “under the influence of alcohol and drugs” and recorded death by misadventure. His passing rocked the music world. Jones was one of the most charismatic figures in rock, surpassing even Mick Jagger in terms of fan adoration.
Jones helped form The Rolling Stones in 1962 at a blues venue called The Ealing Club. Jones’ original role was as a slide guitarist, but he soon established himself as the driving force behind the band’s innovative brand of R&B. While he may have been a talented multi-instrumentalist (piano, drums, harmonica, and more), his gift would eventually be overshadowed by the songwriting partnership of Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards.
In his memoir, Stoned, Andrew Loog Oldham maintains that Jones was always an outlier in The Stones. According to the manager, Jones travelled separately from the group during their 1963 tour, demanding extra pay and that he be put up in different hotels. Oldham also claimed that Jones felt alienated because he no longer had a leading role in the group, in either songwriting or managerial capacity. Of Jones, Oldham wrote that the guitarist “resisted the symbiosis demanded by the group lifestyle, and so life was becoming more desperate for him day by day. None of us were looking forward to Brian totally cracking up”.
After becoming heavily dependent on drugs and alcohol, Jones’ presence in the group became increasingly hard to manage. Unreliable both in and out of the studio, he was slowly phased out until he was finally fired from the band in June 1969 and replaced by Mick Taylor. Still, The Rolling Stones never forgot how instrumental Jones had been to their success. “He formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played,” Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman once said: “He got us gigs, he was very influential, very important, and then slowly lost it—highly intelligent—and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away.”
In this fascinating interview from 1964, Jones is at the centre of the action. While discussing their tour of North America, the fresh-faced and well-spoken guitarist reveals his distaste for certain American “attitudes”, by which he probably meant racial segregation – the same The Beatles found troubling during their own 1964 American tour. Elsewhere, Jones and The Stones discuss their tour habits, feeling imprisoned in hotel rooms, and the music scene in England. Make sure you check it out.