By: Kathryn Summers
Today we remember the late Brian Jones, an original member of the Rolling Stones and truly gifted musician who was taken too soon.
A rebel from a young age, Jones had a high IQ and had great potential academically but couldn’t stray from his passion for music, particularly jazz and the blues, first mastering the saxophone at 15 years old.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spotted Jones playing a blues gig in early ‘60s, and by the spring of 1962, the Rolling Stones were formed, adding bassist Bill Wyman, pianist Ian Stewart, Wyman and Charlie Watts on the drums.
Jones may not have been lead guitarist or written the group’s hits, but behind-the-scenes, he was an influential creative force for the Stones. In an interview with California’s Daily News more than a decade ago, Wyman opened up about his late friend’s significance to the band, both in terms of their start and for their longevity, having now celebrated the band’s 50th anniversary. In fact, he says Jones was responsible for forming the band in the first place.
“He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs…” Wyman said. “[Brian] did marvelous things on a lot of songs in the mid-‘60s with dulcimers, marimbas – anything he put his hands on he could get a tune out of and turned songs into something they weren’t when they started.”
Like Wyman said, Jones never stopped learning new instruments, playing the marimba on “Under my Thumb,” the recorder on “Ruby Tuesday,” the dulcimer on “Lady Jane,” the piano on “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the mellotron on “2000 Light Years from Home.”
In the late ‘60s, Jones slowly began to drift away from the Stones, barely featuring on their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. He had left the band before Let it Bleed had finished recording in ’69, as he was unhappy with the musical direction that the Stones had taken.
On July 3, 1969, just a few weeks after announcing his departure from the band, Jones drowned in a swimming pool at his home in Sussex at the age of 27. Though Brian Jones left too soon, the world was certainly lucky to have him in it.