The life of the Rolling Stones' original bandleader was cut traically short, but Brian Jones's multi-instrumental skills are the stuff of legend.
Both Jones' parents played music, and by the time he was in secondary school, Brian had learned to play the piano, clarinet, saxophone and guitar. Though Jones was incredibly bright, he was a lazy student. He quit school and left home shortly after a scandal in which he fathered an illegitimate baby boy who was given up for adoption.
Jones moved to London to play blues guitar in local bars. In the spring of 1962, he formed The Rolling Stones with pianist Ian Stewart, singer Mick Jagger, and Jagger's childhood friend and guitarist Keith Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and jazz-influenced drummer Charlie Watts soon joined the band.
During The Rolling Stones' early days, Jones served as leader, entertainer and manager for the band. As the most photogenic band member, his antics and fashion sense were quickly adopted by the swingers of 1960s London. In 1963, the band hired manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who helped them cultivate a rough, somewhat menacing persona. Oldham's arrival also marked the decline of Jones as ringleader. Jagger and Richards, who did much of the song-writing, soon moved into the spotlight.
Though he was chiefly known as a guitarist, especially for the guitar weaving he did with Richards, Jones played numerous instruments during his years with the Stones including: sitar, tamboura, dulcimer, keyboards, recorder, harmonica, xylophone and marimba, among others. By the mid 1960s, Jones was feeling increasingly alienated by the band and became more and more dependent on drugs and alcohol. He was first arrested for drug use in May of 1967, and by May of 1968, he was recording his final substantial contributions with the Stones.
On June 8, 1969, following the recording of Let it Bleed, Jones was asked to leave the band. A month later, on July 3, 1969 Brian Jones was found at the bottom of his swimming pool at his home in Sussex, England. The death was ruled an accident. He was 27 years old.
A chronicle of the sordid life and suspicious death of Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones.