Background to Brian Jones leaving The Rolling Stones
Brian Jones was a complex man, along with his charm and presence were vicious mood swings and moments of “assholery”. A highly intelligent man (he had genius level IQ) he was fully aware that he and The Rolling Stones no longer shared the same destiny.
Brian Jones‘ relationship with the other Rolling Stones had deteriorated. While never on the best terms with Mick Jagger (he had even backed plans to sack him in the early 1960s) his personal relationship with Keith Richard broke down when his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, left him for Keith Richard while they vacationed in Morocco. This had driven a wedge between the former friends that was never bridged.
Brian Jones Drug Problems
Along with the Brian‘s deteriorating relationship with the other Stones his health was deteriorating with his dependency on various narcotics. He had been suffering badly with the rigors of fame and heavy drink and drug usage. After getting into LSD, these had moments only become worse. If he had a good trip he was the life and soul of the party, however a bad one would leave him crying inconsolably.
He had twice been arrested for drug possession (although the second was widely believed to be a set-up) and narrowly escaped jail time (a fate that befell his band-mates Mick Jagger and Keith Richard after the notorious “Redlands” drug raid) but had been told by the judge to get help and, “for goodness sake, don’t get into trouble again or it really will be serious”
Brian Jones had also become insecure of his position in the band. Brian was a magnificent musician and arranger, but was not a prolific song-writer. Brian Jones, the blues purist, had been unhappy with the direction The Rolling Stones were taking but was powerless to change it.
With Mick Jagger and Keith Richard writing the majority of the songs, they had become the driving force in the band and Brian Jones had gone from being their self-proclaimed leader (in the early days he had even negotiated himself more money than the other members) to nothing more than a bit-part player. Brian had barely played a note on “Let It Bleed” and according to Brian‘s girlfriend at the time, Anna Wohlin, “So many times the car would come down [to take him to the studios] and Brian would say, ‘Anna, you’ll have to go out and tell them I’m not going to go, I don’t want to.'”
Brian Jones and The Rolling Stones part ways
As 1969 progressed Brian had reportedly given up illegal drugs, though he continued drinking heavily. He settled into his new home, Cotchford Farm, formerly owned by A. A. Milne, and enjoying country life.
With “Let It Bleed” released The Rolling Stones wanted to tour again. Brian, with his two drug convictions, would not be given a visa to tour America. However, on a both personal and professional level they were unhappy with Brian, as Keith Richard said, “We just saw Brian as a bit of a fly in the ointment. After two years of being on the road for 350 days out of 365, you start to get a little bit antsy when the fly is still there.”
“We carried Brian for quite a long time,” says Jagger. “We put up with his tirades, and his not turning up for over a year. So it wasn’t like suddenly we just said, Fuck you. You didn’t turn up for the show, you’re out. We’d been quite patient with him. And he’d just gotten worse and worse. He just didn’t want to be in it. He didn’t want to be part of it. He didn’t want to come out of this rather sad state.”
So on June 8th, 1969 Keith Richard, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts drove down to Cotchford Farm to deliver the news. According to Keith Richards, after being fired Brian was, “A little pathetic about it, but at the same time it wasn’t like he wasn’t expecting it.”
“I’m sure it nearly killed him when we sacked him ‘cos he’d fought so hard to put it all together at the beginning.” states Charlie Watts. “It was a huge void in his life, especially being young. If he’d have made 60 million dollars, if he’d had that cushion… He had a little bit, but not what people think. But he was very young, you know, so there was a big space of nothing.”
Written on Brian‘s behalf, an official statement read, “Because I no longer see eye to eye with the other Stones over the discs we were cutting, I have a desire to play my own brand of music. We have agreed that an amicable termination of our relationship is the only answer.” Allen Klein, The Rolling Stones manager at that point, offered Brian £100,000 and £20 000 a year all the time The Rolling Stones were in existence, plus his share of royalties, a lot of money in the 1960s. For comparison Keith Richard bought his Redland’s home for less than £20 000 the previous year.
Both parties had known for a while that Brian Jones was not going to be the man to tour the USA with. In fact The Rolling Stones had been thinking of replacing him for a considerable time and before his firing, already had his replacement lined up in the shape of 20-year-old Mick Taylor. And so, on June 13th 1969, Mick Taylor, formerly of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, was unveiled to the press as Brian Jones‘ replacement.
Brian Jones had considered starting his own band and during 1969 was known to have contacted Alexis Korner, blues-man and one of his oldest friends, Rolling Stones collaborators Jimmy Miller and Ian Stewart and Mitch Mitchell who played with The Jimi Hendrix Experience. There are reports that Brian wrote and recorded a single during this time, although if it exists, it has never surfaced.
There was some half-hearted talk among The Rolling Stones that Brian Jones may come back when he had recovered, however events would ensure this was never an option as Brian Jones was found found dead a few weeks later.