Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of founding Rolling Stones member Brian Jones, who was just 27 when he drowned in the swimming pool at his house in Hartfield, U.K.
Jones, who had been struggling with drug and alcohol issues, had been fired by the band he’d formed less than a month prior to his death.
In a recent Yahoo Entertainment interview to promote his new documentary The Quiet One, ex-Stones bassist Bill Wyman discussed the guiding role Brian played during the group’s early years.
“Everybody thinks that it was Mick [Jagger] and Keith [Richards‘] band, but it was Brian’s band,” Wyman insists. “Whenever I’ve written books…I’ve always spent quite a bit of time explaining that Brian was the person that created the Rolling Stones in the beginning. He chose the music. He chose the name. He was the leader.”
Jones formed The Rolling Stones to showcase the music of the American blues artists he loved, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James. Brian’s slide guitar was a key element of the group, but as the band began exploring other styles of music, his ability to play almost any instrument allowed him to add interesting sonic flavors to many Stones songs.
“He made so many records successful because of that,” Wyman notes. “He would pick up an autoharp or a flute or a glockenspiel or marimbas, and he would be able to do all of that kind of stuff.”
However, as Jagger and Richards songwriting partnership began dominating the band, and with Jones’ talents increasingly being hindered by drugs, his contributions began to wane.
Two days after Jones’ death, The Rolling Stones played their first concert with new guitarist Mick Taylor, a famous free show in London’s Hyde Park that the band dedicated to Brian.
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