Flamboyant Facts About Brian Jones, The First Rolling Stone

June 3, 2024 | Byron Fast

Flamboyant Facts About Brian Jones, The First Rolling Stone

Brian Jones was the first in a string of musicians that saw the abrupt end of their lives at the young age of 27. What most people don’t know is that Jones’ demise was—and is—shrouded in mystery.

1. He Was Flamboyant

Brian Jones was the multi-talented, flamboyantly-dressed, creative inspiration for the Rolling Stones. In fact, some people believe that if there had been no Brian Jones, there would have been no Rolling Stones at all. And yet, the other band members ended up getting together and ousting him from the fabled rock band.

Just one month later, Jones’ lifeless body was found at the bottom of his swimming pool. It may have been a result of rock star excess…but some believe that something much more sinister may have happened.

image of Brian JonesMirrorpix, Getty Images

2. He Suffered A Loss

Born on February 28, 1942 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Brian Jones’ life met with an early tragedy. His younger sister Pamela sadly passed of leukemia just after her second birthday. Jones was just three years old when this happened. Jones’ home life was a struggle, and his school life was no better.

Churchdown Gloucester - CheltenhamBen Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

3. He Rebeled

Jones detested the conformity of school life and often showed open hostility toward his teachers. This behavior left the school no choice but to give him the boot—and they did it twice. Even though Jones detested school, he somehow managed to do well on the tests. Thankfully, there was something else in his life that made him much happier.

image of a brian jones as a kidChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

4. He Didn’t Fit In

Jones was a music lover from early on, but his family had a taste for high-brow classical. To his parents’ dismay, when he decided to pick up an instrument, he wanted a jazzy saxophone. He convinced them to buy him one, and when they saw his amazing talent, they also bought him a guitar. Soon, Jones was playing gigs in clubs around the city.

He was also doing something else many musicians do—getting into trouble with women.

image of brian jones playing guitarChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

5. They Have No Idea

When he was still a teenager, Brian Jones made a life-changing mistake. He accidentally got a girlfriend pregnant. She carried the baby to term, and then the young couple made the difficult decision to give the baby up for adoption. The gender of this child is unknown, and he or she has likely lived their life having no clue that their father was the famous Brian Jones.

Most people would learn a valuable lesson from this heartbreaking experience—but not Jones.

image of brian jones and valerie corbettChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

6. He Had Another

About a year later, history repeated itself and Brian Jones found himself in the exact same situation. His girlfriend Valeria Corbett told him that she was pregnant. This time Jones was intent on ending the pregnancy, but he couldn’t convince Corbett. She delivered the baby and named him Barry David.

Sadly, Corbett had to then give little Barry up for adoption. And what was Jones doing during all this? He was living the dream.

image of brian jones performingChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

7. He Was A Wanderer

Brian Jones left all the parenting drama behind him and instead went on a trip abroad. It was a Bohemian lifestyle, as he paid his way by playing his guitar for money tossed to him from passersby. He also wasn’t above a little mooching off the various people he met along the way. But it soon became clear that busking and borrowing were not enough for him to get by.

A broke Jones returned to England and back to his same routine of getting women into trouble.

Rolling Stones At Studio 51 ClubMark and Colleen Hayward,

8. She Was A Married Woman

Shortly after returning from his trip abroad, Brian Jones had a passionate one night affair with a married woman. The unlucky Jones was soon in the same predicament as before, but this time it was a little different. This time Jones had no idea about this child, which this woman and her husband secretly decided to raise her as their own.

Jones was just turning 20, and he’d already had three kids with three different women. Next, he’d try to turn over a new leaf—with agonizing results.

Brian Jones And Anita PallenbergEvening Standard, Getty Images

9. He Tried To Turn It Around

Brian Jones knew he had to get a grip on his life, so he applied for an art scholarship and won it. Before Jones could take advantage of this windfall, disaster struck. An unnamed acquaintance sent a scathing letter outlining to the college exactly why Jones was not a worthy recipient of the money. Dejected, Jones was back to square one, and back to his reckless ways with women.

Brian Jones Reading His Own BiographyKeystone-France, Getty Images

10. He Tried Being A Father

When Jones’ next girlfriend Pat Andrews got pregnant, he was intent on doing things right. The child was Julian Mark Andrews, and Jones decided to move in with the mother and child. Jones got a job and even sold his vast collection of records to buy clothes for the baby and flowers for the new mom. Andrews later said that Jones was surprisingly proud of being a father.

Sadly, this pride was not going to last.

image of  Pat AndrewsMirrorpix, Getty Images

11. It Started With An Ad

Despite being a new dad, Brian Jones made a move to London to become involved in the jazz and rhythm & blues scene there. After failed attempts with some London bands, in May of 1962 Jones decided to place an ad to start his own band. Through the ad, he met Ian Stewart. Then, Mick Jagger and his childhood friend Keith Richards also signed on.

Everything was falling into place—except Jones had forgotten one very important thing.

image of a rolling stones bandMichael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

12. He Found It On The Floor

Brian Jones was soon busy trying to line up a gig for his newly formed band. While on the telephone with a club owner, Jones realized he had failed to come up with a name. Frantically looking around his apartment, his eyes lit on an album cover. On it there was a song by Muddy Waters called “Rollin’ Stone Blues”. On July 12, 1962, “the Rollin’ Stones”—consisting of Jones, Jagger, Richards, and a bass player and drummer—played their first gig at the Marquee Club.

It was the beginning of one of the most iconic rock bands of all time.

Muddy Waters - Rolling StoneKevin Dooley, Flickr

13. They Shacked Up

The three Rollin’ Stones core members—Jones, Jagger and Richards—eventually added a “G” to the name and all moved into an apartment they affectionately called “a beautiful dump”. Here, Jones and Richards played guitar all day, and Richards taught Jones the harmonica.

It was a tight group, but all three members knew there was something vital missing.

image of a Brian jones and other band memberChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

14. They Needed More

Brian Jones and the guys knew they needed a permanent bass player, and Bill Wyman seemed like a good choice. You could say that their criteria for hiring him was more than a little unorthodox. Wyman had what they needed: an extra amp, a homemade bass guitar, and a ready pack of smokes. They then added Charlie Watts as a drummer, and the guys were ready to play.

Unfortunately, some toxic dynamics immediately began to emerge.

Bill Wyman, Keith Richards and Charlie WattsPhoto 12, Getty Images

15. He Was The Boss

Once the Rolling Stones added Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums, Brian Jones did something odd. He spontaneously decided that he was the boss. Jones thought his services as “gig finder” were worth a few dollars more than the other guys made, and this caused some major resentment in the band.

No one wanted Jones as their boss, so they put a stop to it.

Rolling Stones PortraitMichael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

16. They Were The Anti-Beatles

All the guys in the Rolling Stones—except Jones—wanted a real manager, so they found one in the form of teenager Andrew Loog Oldham. His idea was to present the band as the “anti-Beatles,” which meant they were a rougher bunch than the Liverpool foursome. This was bad news for Jones, as Oldham didn’t think the band’s image could tolerate a member being a father.

Oldham told Jones what he had to do, and it was a huge ask.

Andrew Loog OldhamLarry Ellis, Getty Images

17. He Drifted

For the sake of the band, Oldham made a disturbing demand. He forbade Jones from letting the press and fans see him with either his girlfriend or their child. Jones agreed to this and assured Andrews that it was temporary, and the best thing for his career. Well it was good for his career, but it just wasn’t temporary.

Andrews said that Jones “just seemed to drift away”…and so did any financial support for the kid. As it turned out, Jones was about to have even more of a handful to support.

Brian Jones sonMirrorpix, Getty Images

18. He Had Two More

In 1963 Jones started dating Linda Lawrence and the inevitable—in Jones’ life anyway—happened. She got pregnant. Julian Brian Lawrence was Jones’ fifth child. By 1964, Jones had a new girlfriend who also announced she was pregnant. This was Dawn Molloy, and this time the Rolling Stones’ manager just handed her a check to keep quiet about the baby.

The children were adding up, but Jones wasn’t quite through yet.

18 year-old Linda Lawrence of WoodleyMirrorpix, Getty Images

19. He Introduced Her

By 1965, Jones had ended things with Molloy and started a relationship with the German singer Nico. Jones was pivotal in getting Nico involved with Andy Warhol’s work. He was also pivotal in getting her—yep, you guessed it—pregnant. They decided to terminate this pregnancy, and Jones and Nico had an amicable parting.

It seemed that Jones was incapable of being a one woman man. Well, he was about to meet his match.

Nico Performs Live In AmsterdamGijsbert Hanekroot, Getty images

20. They Met A Model

In 1965, the Rolling Stones were on tour in Munich, and they ran into model Anita Pallenberg. The guys were all impressed with Pallenberg, but it was Jones who got to know her best. You see, Jones had learned how to speak German, and this was Pallenberg’s first language.

The Rolling Stones had no idea at the time, but this chance meeting with Pallenberg would have a dramatic effect on all of their lives.

Anita Pallenberg sits cross-leggedLarry Ellis, Getty Images

21. She Changed Him

Jones and Pallenberg were soon seeing each other romantically, and this relationship had a huge effect on him as an artist. With Pallenberg’s encouragement, Jones started being more experimental. The other guys in the Rolling Stones saw her influence on Jones and they realized something. Pallenberg was way beyond them in sophistication, and she intimidated them.

Pallenberg was shaking up the Rolling Stones, and she was about to be at the center of a huge conflict. 

Brian Jones et Anita PallenbergHulton Archive, Getty Images

22. They Left Him At The Hospital

In 1967, Jones, Pallenberg, and Richards went on holiday together along with a driver named Tom Keylock. Jones fell ill in Toulouse, and had to go to the hospital, which meant that Pallenberg and Richards would be on their own with the driver. While touring Europe, Keylock couldn’t help but notice that Pallenberg and Richards were getting close…a little too close.

Keylock knew this meant trouble—he just didn’t know how explosive it would be.

Brian Jones and his minder Tom KeylockTrevor Humphries, Getty Images

23. He Caught Up With Them

Eventually Jones recovered and caught up with the travelers in Morocco. Keylock had been right, and Jones also noticed the chemistry between Pallenberg and Richards. In anger, Jones did something truly twisted. He struck Pallenberg across the face—actually breaking his hand. Keyock saw this altercation, and he got between Jones and Pallenberg.

Keylock was not a man Jones wanted to be on the wrong side of.

Keith Richards and Anita PallenbergREPORTERS ASSOCIES, Getty Images

24. He Lost Her

Keyock pulled Jones aside and told him in no uncertain terms what he thought about men who hit women. Jones apologized profusely, but this didn’t help matters with Pallenberg. Richards was also aware of what had happened and returned to England with Pallenberg, where the two moved in together.

Of course, this infuriated Jones, and just added to the problems he was facing with the Rolling Stones.

Keith Richards, and Anita Pallenberg, with baby son MarlonMirrorpix, Getty Images

25. He Was A Bad Member

In addition to his romantic woes, Jones had other problems. He’d started using illicit substances, and this meant he missed practices and was not really acting like a full band member. In fact, he sometimes refused to even play the guitar, and instead insisted on playing more exotic instruments. The Rolling Stones was becoming a phenomenon, and Jones just wasn’t taking it seriously.

As it turned out, Jones wasn’t the only member of the band causing problems.

The Rolling Stones on stageStanley Bielecki/ASP, Getty Images

26. He Wasn’t There

One evening, Brian Jones had signed up to work on a soundtrack, so he had to miss a major party at Keith Richards’ place. This ended up being a godsend, as the authorities busted the party in search of illicit substances. For once, Jones came out of things looking like the good boy of the band.

Sadly, this reputation wouldn’t stick.

image of Brian JonesBen Merk (ANEFO), CC0, Wikimedia Commons

27. They Went After Him

In May of 1967, the authorities targeted Brian Jones personally—and what they found was seriously disturbing. His apartment was home to a true cornucopia of illicit substances, and they took him in on possession charges. Cleverly, Jones only admitted to using the lighter stuff, but they still went to court.

Then, in the middle of the trial, his mental health took a turn for the worse.

Brian Jones's HouseClive Limpkin, Getty Images

28. He Was On the Verge

At this same time, Jones was seeing a psychiatrist named Dr Leonard Henry, and he worried that Jones was on the verge of a breakdown. Henry advised Jones to admit himself to a clinic where he would get the care he needed. Jones was toying with the idea when something tragic happened.

image of brian jones upside downChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

29. They Found Him On The Floor

Before Jones had a chance to check in to the clinic, they found him unconscious in his apartment. Doctors soon came out with a diagnosis. He was “paranoid”. So, it was in this terrible condition that Jones returned to court. Thankfully, the judge showed pity on him and only required him to continue treatment under the care of his psychiatrist.

The judge had shown compassion, but his bandmates weren’t going to be that kind.

The Rolling Stones: Brian JonesMirrorpix, Getty Images

30. He Had Two Sides

The members of the Rolling Stones were not happy with Jones at all. They said that he had two sides to his personality. At times he was amicable and even kind, but at other times he was mean spirited and hard to work with. They also found him very needy. The guys were afraid to fire him, so they did something completely heartless.

image of Brian jones playing guitarChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

31. They Did it Slowly

Instead of firing him, the Rolling Stones began to phase Brian Jones out as a member of the band. First up was in relation to recording. At one time, Jones would have been playing a dizzying variety of instruments on numerous tracks. Under the new regime, Jones just had small parts on a few tracks.

Then, the Stones planned to curtail Jones’ contribution when it came to performance.

Mick And BrianVal Wilmer, Getty Images

32. His End Was Near

In 1968, the Rolling Stones began a project called The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. This was a concert film and also featured other performers like the Who. After watching the Stones dealing with Jones, Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend of the Who both thought that his days with the band were severely numbered.

Of course, all this assumes that Jones wanted to stay with the Rolling Stones. But the truth was even darker.

The Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus TV specialMirrorpix, Getty Images

33. He Wanted Out

The truth is, it already seemed that Jones also wanted to part ways with the Rolling Stones. The night before they were to film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll CircusJones called the director and said he didn’t want to participate—but he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that he hated the Rolling Stones. The startled director managed to talk some sense into Jones.

Jones came to the set, but it was going to be a very difficult day.

The Rolling Stones At The Rock And Roll Circus ShowKeystone-France, Getty Images

34. They Weren’t Ready

Jethro Tull member Ian Anderson said that Jones was in such bad shape that he couldn’t even tune his own guitar. But Anderson also said that the Rolling Stones as a group were insufficiently rehearsed. The shoot went so badly that Jagger would not let the public see The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus for almost 30 years.

Jones put the bad day of filming behind him. But in front of him was just more trouble.

image of Jethro TullHeinrich Klaffs, Flickr

35. They Caught Him Again

There was no rest for Jones—and next, the authorities caught him with a stash of illicit substances. Since he was on probation, there was the potential for this to be a very big deal. Jones’ flimsy excuse was that the substance belonged to the previous tenants of the apartment, but the judge wasn’t buying it. He started talking about putting Jones behind bars.

Criminal arrested and handcuffed while police grab shoulderThomas Andre Fure, Shutterstock

36. He Received Sympathy

For Jones’ trial for possession, there was both a judge and jury. The jury wasted no time in proclaiming him guilty, but the judge paused. He seemed to feel sorry for Jones and didn’t want to see him in prison. Instead, Jones got a light fine and told to stay out or trouble. Luck was once again on his side, but Jones would pay for this misdeed in another way.

court image conceptWESTOCK PRODUCTIONS, Shutterstock

37. He Couldn’t Join Them

This latest run-in with the law made the Rolling Stones even more enraged. They were now preparing for a tour of the United States and getting very nervous. Because of Jones’ legal issues, it would be almost impossible for him to get a visa to go on the tour. That was one problem, the other was maybe even more serious.

image of Brian JonesChris Ware, Getty Images

38. He Phoned It In

As the Rolling Stones were gearing up for the big tour, Jones was consistently missing rehearsals. What’s worse was that when he did show up, he wasn’t really an active participant. On the rare occasion when Jones did flex his musical muscles, it was often so bad that the other band members had to unplug his amp.

Jones’ next attempt to join in with the guys was just plain pathetic.

Jones, Brian & Rolling StonesAvalon, Getty Images

39. He Was Out Of Practice

With Jones’ amp unplugged, Keith Richards had to play all the guitar parts. Jones still wanted to contribute something, so he would sometimes pick up his harmonica. The consequences were twisted. Sadly, he was so out of practice, that playing the harmonica filled his mouth with blood.

Jones was clearly suffering at rehearsals. And unfortunately, his day to day life was no better.

The Rolling Stones on the stageMirrorpix, Getty Images

40. He Lost It

The Rolling Stones had their own Jaguar, and in March 1969, Jones took it to go shopping. After his shopping spree, Jones returned to find the car gone from the place he’d parked it. Instead of trying to find out where the car was, Jones simply hired a chauffeur-driven car to drive him home. I guess he thought “car locating” was someone else’s job.

As it turned out, Jones would have even worse luck with another mode of transport.

English rock and roll group The Rolling StonesMark and Colleen Hayward, Getty Images

41. He Made a Wrong Turn

One day, instead of taking the Jaguar out, Brian Jones decided to use a motorcycle. This turned into a hair-raising experience, as Jones somehow made a wrong turn and drove the motorcycle straight into a shop window. They raced him to the hospital, and there the authorities took pity on him. They allowed him to check in under an assumed name to avoid bad publicity.

Sure he avoided some negative news coverage, but he still had the wrath of the Rolling Stones to face.

guitarist with English rock and roll group The Rolling Stones posed backstageMark and Colleen Hayward, Getty Images

42. They Let Him Go

As the tour date got closer, it became clear that Jones would not be eligible for a US work permit. This was exactly what the guys needed. On June 8, 1969, the members of the band told him that he would not be continuing with the Rolling Stones, the band he’d started. To save face, Jones announced that he was leaving the band because they couldn't agree on the kind of music they were making.

Now it was finally time for Jones to show the world what he could do on his own. Sadly, he didn’t have much time to do it.

The Rolling Stones taken in the 1960Avalon, Getty Images

43. He Was Happy

Brian Jones was now free of the band he hated, so he bought an estate and started trying to assemble a new band. It seemed that being apart from the Rolling Stones was a good thing for Jones. In June 1969, musician Alexis Korner said that Jones was “happier than he’d ever been”. Unfortunately, this happiness would last less than a month.

image of Alexis KornerHeinrich Klaffs, Flickr

44. There Was A Late Night Party

On July 2, 1969, Jones was spending the evening with his girlfriend Anna Wohlin, a female friend named Janet Lawson, and Frank Thorogood, who was doing a construction job on Jones’ new house. Jones and Thorogood were drinking and Jones was taking pills. When the idea for a late night swim came up, Lawson—who is a nurse—told the men they were in no condition for a safe swim.

Neither man heeded Lawson’s warning.


45. He Was At The Bottom

Later that night, a housekeeper entered the pool area and came upon a shocking scene. Jones was lying at the bottom of the pool and he wasn’t moving. Anna Wohlin, Jones’ girlfriend, jumped into the pool and dragged her boyfriend to safety. She said she felt his hand grip on to hers, so she was sure he was still alive.

All she had to do was keep him alive until the ambulance arrived.

Brian Jones's girlfriend Anna WohlinJohn Downing, Getty Images

46. They Found Bottles and Pills

Once the ambulance attendants took over from Wohlin, they became certain that Jones was long gone. A detective arrived, and found multiple bottles of booze and most were almost empty. In addition to the bottles, he also found containers of pills. It seemed pretty clear what had caused Jones to drown in his pool.

But later, evidence emerged suggesting that something else may have been the cause.

close up of pills in a bottleBrian Goodman, Shutterstock

47. It Was A Heavy Day

Another theory about Jones’ passing didn’t involve drug use or drinking. As it turned out, the night of the party was a heavy pollen count day. Because Jones suffered from asthma, it could be that the pollen in the air had a strong adverse effect on Jones, causing him to drown. A third theory goes into much darker territory.

Birch pollen, blown up by the windIgor Klyakhin, Shutterstock

48. There Is A Suspect

One of the last people to see Jones alive was Frank Thorogood—who’d been hiding a dark secret. Apparently, Jones and Thorogood had an argument over how much money Jones owed him for his work on the house. Thorogood was keeping his mouth shut about what happened that night, but years later, he came out with a startling admission.

Frank Thorogood at Brian Jones's houseEvening Standard, Getty Images

49. He Confessed

In 1993, the Rolling Stones’ driver and fixer, Tom Keylock, visited Thorogood in the hospital. Thorogood’s life was quickly coming to an end, and he wanted to get something off his chest. He told Keylock that he’d “done Brian”. A shocked Keylock told Thorogood that he’d return the next day to hear the rest of the story. When Keylock returned, Thorogood had passed.

The truth of that night is now buried six feet under with Thorogood, but there’s still one more mystery.

image of Tom KeylockJohn Downing, Getty Images

50. He Was the First

When Brian Jones passed, his age at the time seemed to have no significance. When four more music stars—Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Canned Heat’s Alan Wilson, and the Doors’ Jim Morrison—all came to their ends at the same age, it was starting to feel a little creepy. Jones was the first member of the 27 Club and, sadly, new members like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse continue to follow in his tragic—and mysterious—footsteps.

coffin of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian JonesMirrorpix , Getty Images

51. He Was Insulted Posthumously

Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman were the only Rolling Stones members to attend Jones’ funeral. Richards was nowhere to be found and Jagger claimed that the contract for the movie he was working on prevented him from attending. Years later, Jagger was asked if he felt guilty about Jones’ passing. His answer was surprising. 

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick JaggerPOOL, Getty Images

52. He “Deserved” It

Jagger said that: “"No, I don't really. I do feel that I behaved in a very childish way, but we were very young, and in some ways we picked on him. But, unfortunately, he made himself a target for it; he was very, very jealous, very difficult, very manipulative, and if you do that in this kind of a group of people you get back as good as you give, to be honest”.

Biran Jones graveChip Baker Films, Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019)

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