Lost boy

CanadianBrianIn late April 1965, Brian Jones went missing. Over recent weeks he’d seriously considered leaving the band; it appears the Stones co-manager, Eric Easton, had discussed his future with him, and had even attempted to push him as a separate figure from Mick and Keith, who might break into production or make his own music. In July, of course, Easton would be history, replaced by the far more aggressive Allen Klein, and any support network Brian might have was gone. Instead of leaving the band, Brian joined up with Anita Pallenberg – whom he had already met in Paris, at one of Donald Cammell’s trademark erotic evenings – for the ultimate double-or-quits bet. With Anita at his side, he once more outshone his fellow Stones. But the comedown, as we know, would be terrible.

Brian, as John Keen points out, had too few confidantes. But a key one was Scott Ross, assistant program director at WINS in New York, one of the first champions of both The Beatles and The Stones on US radio, and famously the man who introduced the Fab Four at Shea Stadium. Ross was the main witness to the famous Lost Jam, when Brian hung out with Bob Dylan during the New York blackout; he would spend time with Brian every time the Stones’ founder came to New York. But it’s the story of Brian Jones, the lost boy, that is most etched in his memory.

The photo  linked here is from the Canadian rock’n’roll hall of fame. It dates from within a day or so of Brian’s first call to Scott Ross – and his distress, I reckon, is visible in the picture.

Tell me about the crisis in April 1965, when Brian temporarily left the band to stay with you.
Scott Ross: He was under a lot of pressure. There was the conflict between the three, Mick Keith and Andrew, and Brian, and Brian was just being shuffled aside. There was a lot of backstabbing and they were very critical and that put him into a tailspin. He was the originator. But with that triumvirate against him he didn’t have much of a chance

What actually happened? Can you remember the exact timing?
He called me from Canada (around 29 April, 1965) and said he’d had it. He didn’t want to be with them, and could he stay with me for a few days. Somewhere in that trip he did record Satisfaction with the Stones, on harmonica (on May 10)

Brian was very sensitive. Could he have simply been over-reacting to just the normal band banter?
I don’t think he was over-sensitive. It was a very difficult time for him. I remember one night we were in a hotel in New York, Brian and I were in one room, Mick and Keith were in another going on and on and were… very critical of him. It was, to use the term, a gang-bang, and they were not getting along at all. I don’t think he was over-reacting, he was obviously very hurt, hurt among other things and of course angry. It was not a good situation.

What were they saying?
I’m trying to think how much the drugs contributed. There was a point where Brian and I sat down with the tape recorder and put this stuff on tape. He was outnumbered. He didn’t feel he could persuade them to do anything any more, they didn’t listen to his suggestions or ideas. Once Keith, Mick and Andrew teamed up, he didn’t have a chance. I haven’t seen Andrew in a hundred years, back then he was always difficult, he saw himself as a star in his own mind. I don’t remember him every being very amenable to people or situations. He was not an easy man to get along with . The strength of the three of them… how could one man stand against that? I really hurt for him. Obviously he had his own issues and problems but I didn’t deal with that side.

Just a few days after this, there was a violent incident in Clearwater, when Brian reportedly hit a girl he’d been sleeping with. Did you see any of that aspect of him?
For the most part I would attribute that to the drugs and drink – but there was a violent streak in all of them. Bill less so, Bill was laid-back, and Charlie wasn’t a fighter, but the other three were. I almost got into a fist-fight with Mick, we had a verbal battle that almost came to blows. That was just the way they were. I got along great with Keith, but he was just as violent. I tried to mediate between them all but it was too much.

Brian was your friend, what did you like about him?
There was another side to him, he was very soft spoken, he wasn’t loud, he wasn’t a screamer or anything like that. Not that he didn’t scream or yell. We would have very long conversations, about everything. I enjoyed being with him, we had a lot of fun together. So when he called up from Canada, that was because he felt secure. In my apartment. Everybody was trying to find him, they didn’t know where he was. I was loyal.

Where was your apartment, and what did you do over those days?
It was on West 85th off Central Park. We were literally half a block from the park, and of course we did have time to go out. People didn’t know he was there, so we could go out and walk around. People didn’t spot him.

What were your conversations?
It was that he couldn’t take any more. Of the conflict. He didn’t want to record, didn’t want to be in the studio. He couldn’t control it any more, those sessions would be Mick, Keith and Andrew sessions, and he couldn’t contribute. He was the odd man out. I didn’t know what to tell him. I was saying, This is a big big step leaving the group. What are you gonna do? He didn’t really know. He talked about forming another band and doing bluesier music. But he hadn’t thought it all through, it wasn’t something he had nailed down. For the future. He just wanted out. And away from the conflict.

How did he leave?
He was there a long time, almost a week, and I don’t know if the group then went back to England. I understood he wanted to get out. But that was a big step. As to try and get it resolved, I didn’t know how. At that time to me, it was beyond any kind of resolution or reconciliation. I think that was it. I believe Andrew had poisoned the well of that relationship.

Categories: Brian Jones

Comments are closed.