The Rolling Stones – the band that “you’ve heard of but are just wearing the t-shirt with the band logo because it looks cool” has been around a lot longer than that stupid “Moves Like Jagger” song.
The original line up consisted of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and co-founder Brian Jones.
Brian Jones co-founded the band in 1962 and was the guitarist until 1969, when he left the band that he helped make so successful. Less than a month later he died. There are lots of conspiracies surrounding his death, most suggesting that he was murdered, but who and why is the curious part. Even his lover Anna Wohlin believes that he was killed, and she was the one who dragged his lifeless body out of the pool that he ‘reportedly’ drowned in.
Brian died on July 3, 1969 making him a member of one of the most disturbing things in rock, the 27 club, but we’ll get into that later. For now, lets look at the last part of the life and the death of one of the original Stones, Brian Jones.
Jones was a known party boy. He was arrested on May 10th, 1967 for cannabis possession and then almost exactly a year later on May 21th, 1968 he was arrested again for the same reason (and obviously he was in the Rolling freaking Stones with Keith freaking Richards). Leading up to his death, Jones had been experiencing issues with substance abuse – which is part of what got him kicked out of the Stones. The rest of the band decided that because of his drug issues and overall erratic behavior that it was time to give Brian the boot.
In his autobiography, Keith Richards talked about how the responsibility of kicking Brian out fell upon him and Jagger; they drove up to his house and basically said, “Hey Brian. … It’s over pal”
Anna Wohlin has long suspected foul play. In 2013 she told Mirror that, “Brian is still portrayed as a bitter, worn-out and depressed man who was fired because of his drug habit … and who died because he was drunk or high, But my Brian was a wonderful, charismatic man who was happier than ever, had given up drugs and was looking forward to pursuing the musical career he wanted.”
In 1969, on July 5th, at the iconic Rolling Stones concert where they introduced Jones’s replacement, Mick Taylor, Anna and Brian where supposed to be there to show that Brian had no hard feelings. But two days before the show, Brian was found dead. Anna said that Brian was never bitter about being replaced because he wanted to take his music in a different direction anyway and play more blues.
In the same interview Anna said that, “There were no hard feelings when he left though, and if people had seen us at the concert they would have known that. But it wasn’t to be. The night before I stayed at the Londonderry Hotel with Bill Wyman and his girlfriend Astrid Lundstrom.”
“They thought it was a bad idea for me to go – I couldn’t think straight. I was in shock. Some friends stayed with me but I was torn – I wanted to be there…but with Brian – and he was gone.”
The July 5th gig became iconic not only because they replaced Brian, but also they turned it into a tribute for Brian, reciting poetry and releasing 2500 white butterflies for him.
The official cause of Brian’s death was that he drowned under the influence of alcohol and drugs (also classified under death by misadventure), it was thought that he went off the rails after being fired from the Stones, and he wouldn’t have been the first or last rocker to die by “misadventure.” However many conspiracy theorists (lead by Wohlin) believe that after Jones fired his bodyguard Frank Thorogood, Frank got angry and ended up killing the rocker (probably by accident) and then to protect the bands image, the murder was covered up.
The death was classified as misadventure even though very little drugs were found in his system and the only alcohol was about three and a half pints of beer
However the case was reopened in 2010 and no new leads were investigated, but Anna still believes that Brian did not die a natural death, saying that, “I don’t know if Frank meant to kill Brian – maybe it was horseplay in the pool that went wrong. But I knew all along he did not die a natural death. I’m still sure of it.”
Well… it may have been murder, or an accident, or misadventure, but Brian shouldn’t be remembered as a bitter druggie who was angry with his former band mates, he should be remembered as the wonderful and talented musician that the world fell in love with in the 60’s. Rock in Peace, Brian.