It was 46 years ago today (June 8th, 1969) that Brian Jones, a founding member of the Rolling Stones, officially quit the band. Jones, a blues enthusiast, both named and led the original group, which included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and keyboardist Ian Stewart. Shortly after turning professional, Stewart, whose looks didn’t fit with the band, signed on as their road manager.
Jones played a pivotal role in the Stones’ success, with his blond hair and good looks, as well as his ability to play any instrument seemingly within minutes of picking it up. Jones, although uncredited, co-wrote and played the recorders and cello on “Ruby Tuesday,” sitar and tamboura on “Paint It, Black,” dulcimer on “I Am Waiting” and “Lady Jane,” the lead guitar riff on “Get Off My Cloud,” harpsichord on “Yesterday’s Papers,” the trumpet and trombone on “Something Happened To Me Yesterday,” the marimba on “Under My Thumb,” and the autoharp on “You Got The Silver.”
- Jones began losing control of the group when Jagger and Richards began their songwriting partnership in 1965, which slowly moved the band away from Jones’ blues-based direction. By 1966, Jones’ mental instability and drug abuse had become a liability to the Stones. Due to his substance abuse problems, Jones frequently missed tour dates and recording sessions, and was unable to function within the band when he did attend.
- Bassist Bill Wyman wrote about Jones in his 1991 autobiography Stone Alone, saying, “For two years not only had he become physically vulnerable and battered by his drug busts, but within the Stones he was sad, isolated and obviously unhappy.”
- On June 8th, 1969, Jagger, Richards, and drummer Charlie Watts fired Jones. They claimed that due to legal problems, Jones wouldn’t be able to attain a work visa for their upcoming U.S. tour.
- In June 1969, along with Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, Keith Richards fired Brian Jones from the band. In the Stones’ 1989 documentary 25×5: The Continuing Adventures Of The Rolling Stones, Richards recalled edging Jones out of the band permanently: “It was very important to us the fact that if we were going to go back out on the road behind a new record that we resolve this thing with Brian. So Mick and I had to go down and sort of tell Brian, virtually like, ‘Hey, you’re fired.’ The fact that he was expecting it made it kind of easier, I guess. Y’know, he wasn’t surprised. I don’t even think he took it all in. He was already up in the stratosphere. But there was no serious way that we could consider going on the road with Brian. But at the same time, nobody expected it to happen just like that. “
- Charlie Watts went on to recall that he still felt guilt over firing Jones: “He got much nicer just before he died, y’know the last few years of his life. I felt even sorrier for him for what we did to him then. We took his one thing away which was being in a band.”
- Jones agreed to a settlement, which gave him a lump sum of nearly $200,000, as well as a yearly salary of $40,000 for as long as the band stayed together. He was also allowed to issue a statement saying that he had quit the band. He then reportedly tried to form a supergroup with John Lennon, who had stayed friendly with Jones after his firing.
- Jones died July 3rd, 1969, at the age of 27. He was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his Cotchford Farm home, in Hartford, England.
- For years there have been conspiracy theories about what went on the night Jones died, including several suggesting foul play. In 2006 a film focusing on Jones’ last days, titled Stoned, opened in theaters.
- 1980’s MTV favorite, Greg Kihn has based his latest novel, Painted Black, on the mysterious 1969 death of Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones. The book serves as a prequel to Kihn’s other fictional work, 2013’s Rubber Soul. Kihn, who still records and performs, as well as DJ-ing, posted the backstory to Painted Black on his website, (gregkihn.com), explaining that the book “puts the Rolling Stones center stage as co-lead protagonists in a riveting and gripping page-turner about the mysterious death of founding guitarist Brian Jones; one of the most high profile musicians in Rock Music’s 27 Club. Returning in Painted Black is lead protagonist and hero Bobby Dingle, aka: Dust Bin Bob, from Rubber Soul, which featured the Beatles.”
- The press release goes on to say: “Now 1969, three years after saving the Beatles from a potential assassination attempt by Marcos loyalists in Manila, Philippines during their 1966 world tour, Dust Bin Bob finds himself entangled in a headline-grabbing, celebrity-driven multiple murder mystery of international proportions. Globetrotting through exotic locals from Marrakech to Morocco and London to Baltimore, Painted Black features the iconic personalities of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Marianne Faithfull, Noel Redding, and Nils Lofgren as integral and peripheral players surrounding the ultimately doomed Brian Jones.”
CHECK IT OUT: Brian Jones through the years: