‘Life and Death of Brian Jones’ Documentary Digs Deep Into the Rolling Stones Co-Founder’s Demise
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Even for obsessive Rolling Stones fans, the story of the founding guitarist Brian Jones' death nearly 51 years ago was so tarnished with misinformation, controversy, and fighting agendas that at one point you just stop wondering. As an asthmatic with a long history of drug abuse, he drowned in the pool of his beautiful house on July 3, 1969, at the age of 27 - just a few weeks after he was thrown out of the stones. While his death was officially classified as a mishap by the coroner, there is little clarity about who was present at the time, what their motives were, and where exactly he was drowning.
While "Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones" repeats a lot of well-established information - and was clearly created without the collaboration of the Stones organization - this does much to clarify the incident and provides reasonably convincing evidence that Jones if not murdered, then killed in homicide. While there are no band members in the documentary, the filmmakers have solidly presented the reports of many overlooked people who were close to Jones and the group in the 1960s - tour manager Sam Cutler, journalist Keith Altham, Jones' ex-girlfriend ZouZou (Danièle Ciarlet), photographer Gered Mankowitz, friend Stanislaus "Stash" Klossowski De Rola and Pretty Things members Dick Taylor and Phil May, the latter of whom died earlier this year - and are really presenting new reports on well-traveled topics.
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The film argues that Jones' killer was a man named Frank Thorogood who was reportedly working on renovations on the guitarist's house, although "freeloading" appears to be a more precise term for what he and his colleagues were doing. According to a third-party report, Thorogood confessed to killing Jones on his deathbed.
However, the 90-minute doc takes time to get there. He spends the first hour telling familiar stories about Jones 'childhood, his crucial role in forming the band, its rise and early success - he was the undisputed leader during the Stones' early years - his charisma, insecurity, drug abuse, his promiscuity and undeniably selfish, vengeful and often physically abusive behavior. Early on he paid more than the other band members for whom they had never forgiven him; At the time of his death, he had six children with six different women. His monumental uncertainty only increased when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards - the group's early manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who was deliberately classified as a prospective songwriter - quickly obscured him as the group's focal points and leaders.
"Tormented soul, out of balance, cracked, vulnerable, manipulative, devilish" are among the many descriptions of the people listed above for him. Bob Dylan greeted Jones - with whom he was friends and who allegedly wrote the song "Ballad of a Thin Man" about him - with the words: "Hi Brian, how is your paranoia?"
However, some subjects noticed that his behavior and health decreased: "There was a lot of meanness towards Brian" from his fellow men. The last straw came in 1967 when Jones, after getting sick on vacation with his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg and Richards, not only let him down and ran away - they would stay a couple for the next 20 years - they left him with him Hotel bill.
After that, his decline was quick: "It changed suddenly and alarmingly," said his father in a recorded interview from the 1970s. He was arrested twice by a well-known corrupt London police officer for drug abuse (the second time it was undoubtedly staged), which only made his illness, drug abuse, insecurity and paranoia worse. He appeared drunk, incoherent, and unable to record because his musical contributions to the group declined dramatically in the second half of the 1960s. His drug balance would have made it impossible for him to tour the US with the Stones, but that was only one reason why he was asked to leave the group in May 1969. He was dead less than six weeks later.
This documentary finds its groove by sifting through the evidence of Jones' death, largely fueled by journalist Scott Jones, who unsuccessfully attempted to re-investigate the guitarist's death in 2010. Along with Thorogood, the incident revolves around an underworld character with the stones called Tom Keylock, and various theories assume that he and Thorogood's construction workers were "drained" by Jones until he fired them - and he died the next day. The film summarizes a theory that there were about a dozen people in the house on the night of Jones' death - some of whom were Thorogood and co-workers who were still hanging around despite being fired - and that Jones and Thorogood were in a relationship A violent argument had broken out. The argument ended with Thorogood Jones' head being kept under water in a trough on the property until he drowned. They argue that Jones' body was brought into the pool, where his asthma inhaler was found after his death. Many of Jones' possessions later - and mysteriously - disappeared from the house after his death, with Keylock, who died in 2009, named as the culprit.
“Brian Jones Life and Death” is a well-traveled area, but it also offers a solid argument for his theories and shows excellent research, rare video footage, photos and interviews with many people whose stories were known to the filmmakers of us younger). It also shows a realistic portrait of Jones himself, whose uncertainty, cruelty, and drug abuse ultimately overwhelmed his talent, charm, and charisma.
"He was a wonderful person somewhere," says his ex-girlfriend Ciarlet in heavily accented English. "He was a piece of shit too."
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