Saturday, March 3, 2007

Jones and the Stones

When one thinks of the Rolling Stones, one can't help but think of the two most famous front men, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. But early on, Brian Jones was the star of the band. When the band first started getting gigs, they were billed as Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones. The first names were eventually dropped when they realized tht name of the band was too long. I am not sure when the Rollin' was changed to the Rolling. Apparently, Jones is the one who created the name of the band. He was booking the band before they had a name and was asked over the phone what their name was. He looked down at a Muddy Waters album and saw the track named "Rollin' Stone Blues" and that became their name.

In the early years of the band, when they were unknown, Jones was the animated one on stage. While Jagger stood still to sing, Jones was running about the stage rarely using any one instrument back to back. He grew bored easily and was talented not only as a guitar player but with most string instruments and horns. He also sang backing vocals. It was this interest in such instruments as the sitar, tamboura and marimba that made the Stone's sound so much different than other bands of their era. If not for this, they may have disappeared into obscurity. Jones also played the sax for The Beatles on the song, "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" My favorite Brian Jones contribution to the Stones is probably his playing of the mellotron on "She's a Rainbow." Nothing like it in all of rock 'n roll. Also, love the harmonica on "Dear Doctor."

While most of the Stones where quite clean and their bad image was just that ... an image, Brian's was not just an image. He experimented with drugs early in his career and his drug arrests helped make their bad boy image easier to sell for manager, Andrew Loog Oldman. Oldman is the guy who created the phrase, "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?" Jones' antics made his job easy.

Some of rock 'n roll's greatest albums were recorded under the most chaotic settings. My favorite Stones album, Beggar's Banquet is no exception. Apparently, Jones was stoned the whole time either a total recluse or an obnoxious jerk. His playing was inaudible. There were times that other band members turned his amp down and let Richards play alone on a track. They let such guitarists like Ry Cooder play his pieces in later sessions. With the tempers flaring not only over his behaviour, but his problems with drugs was making it difficult for the band to turn the States, they forced him out of the band. They replaced him with Mick Taylor from John Mayall's Bluebreakers. He was found dead face-first in his pool within the year.

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