He picked the material, located the musicians and in less than 5 seconds named the band that would change popular rock music forever. A talented, ambitious and charismatic musician, Brian Jones remains a kind of unsung hero in the eyes of Stones and music fans around the world.
With a passion for American rhythm and blues, Jones was destined to make himself known in the already booming London scene of the 60’s. Practicing endlessly while listening to countless records as a source of inspiration became a common practice in his everyday life. Brian was instantly drawn to the slide guitar technique used by American blues musicians and was determined to introduce it to popular British music. This led to hours in junk yards and scrap heaps searching for the right piece of material which he would eventually craft into his very own slide blues accessory. Beggars Banquet is a perfect example of his country and western influence.
Aside from introducing the Americana roots to this newly formed band, Brian was also key to the contribution of adding various instruments in studio recordings and live shows. Varying from harmonica (Not Fade Away), marimba (Under my Thumb) and my personal favorite—one that would pave the way for bridging Indian ragas to mainstream rock—the sitar (Street Fighting Man, Paint it Black.)
Although the songwriting collaborations of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger would later become the more prominent partnership of the band, there’s no denying that it was the influences and style of founder, Brian Jones that made The Stones stand out in what quickly became an over-crowded and very competitive era in music history. Even commercial flops like Their Satanic Majesties Request still holds incalculable value to the aspiring multi instrumentalist—hell I think it’s a great album!
Apart from guitars, the album has Jones contributing mellotron, soprano saxophone, electric dulcimer, flute, organ, recorder and percussion. Some would even argue that without Brian’s vast musical input the album would have suffered more than just pop culture's lack of approval.
As his relationship with the band he had founded was reaching its end, Jones found solace in frequent trips to Morocco. It was there that he would begin brainstorming his next endeavor as an artist - sharing his love of world music. Always a timid songwriter, it took being outcast from his own band that would force him to once again take charge of his own destiny and realize that he had more to contribute to the world than just a rock n’roll band.
Sadly we’ll never know what this next step would have been; Brian Jones was found unconscious at his home in Hartfield, East Sussex on July 3rd 1969. He was 27 years old. Although the cause of his passing remains a debatable topic and frequent theories of homicide would later become a common analysis among biographers, it is his vision and legacy that will live on in the hearts of music fans around the world for generations to come.