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After Brian Jones Died, Keith Richards Said He Wasn’t a ‘Great Musician’

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: King Collection / Avalon / Getty Images
Photo Credit: King Collection / Avalon / Getty Images

Many rumors have been repeated about The Rolling Stones over the decades, especially during their prime in the 1960s and ’70s. When an author released an informal biography, fans of the band were eager to consume it. However, the Stones were up in arms against what they said were many inaccuracies, and Keith Richards specifically had much to say about his late bandmate, Brian Jones.

A biographer made many claims about the band

A photo of the original five members of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts.
Rock and roll band The Rolling Stones, including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, circa 1964. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

In 1974, Anthony Scaduto published a biography about Mick Jagger. He had previously written a biography about Bob Dylan, which critics said was far better written than this one. Instead, this was an unofficial biography and seemed to display an intense dislike for Jagger, even from its name alone, Mick Jagger: Everybody’s Lucifer.

The Rolling Stones became aware of the book and upon review, said that many of the claims Scaduto made about the members of the band were simply not true. One of the claims Scaduto made was that Jagger and Richards were jealous of the late Jones when he was still alive. Scaduto believed Jones to be the most important and talented member of the band.

Richards was happy to dispel some of the alleged falsehoods

Brian Jones with holding a guitar strapped around him.
Guitarist Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones performs onstage in circa 1965. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

Later in 1974, Richards was given the floor when New Musical Express writer Pete Erskine asked him about the claims Scaduto had made about the band in his book. Provided with the opportunity, Richards took advantage of the opportunity to dispel some of the alleged falsehoods.

Regarding Scaduto’s claim that “Brian felt that Jagger and Keith had been engineering his isolation from the group in an attempt to drive him out,” Richards shut it down concisely. He said, “Not true.”

Richards explained, “Brian, as far as I know, never wrote a single finished song in ‘is life. He wrote bits and pieces but he never presented them to us. No doubt he spent hours, weeks, working on things – but his paranoia was so great that he could never bring himself to present it to us.”

Richards said Jones ‘wasn’t a great musician’

Headshot of Brian Jones
English guitarist and member of The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, posed backstage in 1965. (Photo Credit: Mark and Colleen Hayward / Redferns / Getty Images)

Jones, who had died from drowning at his home in 1969, was part of the original group that formed The Rolling Stones in 1962. However, when discussing his late bandmate, Richards had some pretty harsh things to say. “Brian was the least capable of coping with teenybopper stardom and it made him so depressed that eventually he became a liability, and especially because of the pressure we, as a band, were under,” he said.

“Because he’s dead I can say, ‘Oh, Brian was a fantastic musician’, but it wasn’t true. Brian wasn’t a great musician. He did have a certain feel for certain things, but then everybody in the band has that for certain things too. And there was a nice bit of chemistry there for a while which unfortunately didn’t stay,” Richards continued.

Jones grew to resent his other bandmates

Portrait of the original five members of The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones, circa 1963. Clockwise from top left, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones. (Photo Credit: Steve Lewis / Getty Images)

Richards also explained how after he and Jagger learned how to write music, songs that were actually good and topping the charts, Jones became antagonistic about them. He said Jones “always had to have an enemy, he always had an imaginary foe.”

“Brian would always manipulate people,” Richards said, “into these situations of proving your friendship to him by doing something dastardly to the other person.”

Jones left the band shortly before his death in 1969, but it was in 1967 that Richards said he fell out with his late bandmate. They had gone on a trip together to Morocco. Richards described his behavior as “pulling this hard man number, knocking off Moroccan [madams], and being absolutely disgusting.” Although Jones would remain with the band for two more years, their friendship had clearly already fallen apart.

More from us: Janis Joplin’s Death Report Has Been Questioned By Her Friend For Years

Brian Jones was discovered dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his estate on July 3, 1969, less than a month after his exit from the band. He was just 27 years old.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!