Today, 28th February 2021, marks the 79th anniversary of Brian Jones‘s birth.
Jones was the the multi-instrumentalist who formed the Rolling Stones. No Brian Jones, no Stones.
Arguably the best musician in the band, he contributed many unique elements to the sound, even after Mick and Keith had taken control of what had once been his band.
Think of the sitar on Paint it Black; Marimbas on Under My Thumb; elsewhere mellotron, dulcimer, harpsichord, percussion, saxophone… all this as an adjunct to his “day job” of excellent Elmore James-style slide guitar. Genius.
Here’s my personal list of his Top 10 Most Important Contributions (accompanied by a playlist)…
1. Under My Thumb (1966) – Jones’s marimba contribution is the record’s signature sound.
2. Paint It Black (1966) Jones no slouch on sitar.
3. Ruby Tuesday (1967) – for versatility, here’s Jones on recorder…
4. We Love You (1967)… and here he is on mellotron.
5. 2,000 Light Years From Home (1967) – Flower Power didn’t really fit the Stones and Satanic Majesties is not their easiest album, but they are at their most comfortable on this track, thanks to Jones on mellotron and Theremin.
6. Lady Jane (1966) Jones on dulcimer.
7. I Wanna Be Your Man (1963) – Jones’s blistering guitar lifts this from a Beatles album track into something altogether more incendiary.
8. I’m A King Bee (1964) – on more traditional territory, here, Jones genuflecting before Elmore James on slide guitar.
9. Not Fade Away (1964) – Jones on Harmonica. Even Lennon said it: you can really play, I just suck and blow.
10. Something Happened to Me Yesterday (1967) – Not the Stones finest hour, marooned as it is somewhere between Dylan and music hall, this album track is commentworthy in the Jones story as it sees the guitarist playing all the brass instruments.