You Wouldn't Have Wanted To Meet The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones In Real Life. Here's Why

Brian Jones was the Rolling Stone who died. Let that sink in. With the exception of Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones became legendary for their debauchery — Keith Richards would outlast the apocalypse. On August 9, 1969, when Rolling Stone ran an article announcing the death of Jones, Brian had already been kicked out of the band because of his drug convictions that kept them from touring stateside. When they fished his body out of his pool, "[there] were traces of pep pills, sleeping tablets and alcohol in his bloodstream" which had led "drowning by immersion in fresh water associated with severe liver disfunction caused by fatty degeneration and ingestion of alcohol and drugs." No one was surprised. The article continued to paint an unflattering portrait of the man who embodied the soul of the Rolling Stones, pointing to his vocal spats with the press as well as his adolescent emotional explosions.

In a Variety piece about the documentary Life and Death of Brian Jones, a list of increasingly erratic behavior forms, especially after Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started to become the focal songwriters of the band. Jones grew paranoid after a police officer set him up for a second drugs bust, which certainly fed into his substance abuse and general ill-health. In the end, these problems overshadowed any charm and talent that initially helped forge the Stones.

Full of doubts

At the end of the Variety article, the author quotes a description of Jones by his one-time girlfriend ZouZou: "He was a wonderful person, somewhere. He was a piece of s***, too." Few would know better than Anita Pallenberg, his later girlfriend. They dated from 1965 to 1967, during which Keith Richards moved in. "The first time I saw Anita my obvious reaction was 'What ... is a chick like that doing with Brian?'" Richards would be quoted later in Rolling Stone's 2017 obituary for Pallenberg: "Anita's incredibly strong, a much stronger personality than Brian, more confident, with no reservations, whereas Brian was full of doubts."

The doubts grew — with Keith Richards around, of course they did — until they vacationed in Morocco. There, Jones struck Pallenberg so hard he broke his hand on her face. The Guardian reports that seeing this, Richards "grabbed her, threw her in his car and took her back to England." Richards and Pallenberg stayed together until 1980, had two kids, and remained friends afterwards. uDiscoverMusic labels 1967 as the year the estrangement between Brian Jones and the rest of the Stones began, when his deranged, violent behavior drove his expulsion from the group. As Bill Wyman, the bassist, told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2002, "[He was very] important, and then slowly lost it — highly intelligent — and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away. Like John Lennon said, 'He ran out of runway.”'