As we know, Brian wasn’t a huge fan of interviews. When it was about magazines, he would only take part when the whole band was being interviewed. The only times he accepted them were mainly for radio or TV shows, which were also scarce, mostly since he stopped being the band leader and remained in the background. Maybe that was the reason why he refused to stop being asked questions. But not long before he died, and then not long after he was no longer a band member, journalist Thomas Beyl from German magazine Bravo managed to do an interview him at his home in Cotchford Farm, which would then become Brian’s last interview ever.
“TO HELL WITH THE ROLLING STONES!”
(Brian Jones last interview, from Bravo magazine)
*Originally published in German
This is a report by Thomas Beyl. He is the only man to whom Brian Jones has entrusted the true reasons for his separation from the Stones.
“Brian Jones has left the Stones!” When I heard the news, I did not believe it. Even on the jet plane to London, I had only one thought: It must not be true! In recent years I had lived through many crises of the Rolling Stones, but the Stones had continued rolling on through all of it.
Certainly, Brian has been even more difficult than usual recently, and the differences between him and the group have grown greater and greater. But a split? The Rolling Stones without Brian Jones?
Shortly after my arrival in London, I see nothing but black – in broad daylight! When I hurry up the stairs to the Stones headquarters at 46 Maddox Street, Keith Richard rushes past me with long strides. Am I seeing ghosts? A Rolling Stone in the afternoon at half past two?
“Hello, Thomas,” says the “ghost”. “I’m in a hurry. I’ll see you later!” I hurry afterward. Mick, Charlie and Bill are sitting in the office upstairs. Brian Jones is missing. The four Stones look at me and grin, embarrassed. No one says a word.
I brought along BRAVO No. 25 and open it to the double-page color feature with the Stones. “This article says that you are planning a tour through Germany in the fall,” I say. “Will Brian be with you?” Mick shakes his head. “No,” he says resolutely. “It’s final. We’ve split from Brian.” I look questioningly at Bill and Charlie. They nod. “In all friendship,” says Bill.
In all friendship? Without a fight? But these are “my” Stones, I know them better than that! Before I can ask any more questions, the Stones’ chauffeur appears and seconds later, the four have disappeared like a ghost.
“We’ll see you later, Thomas,” I hear Mick yell up the stairs. Later! I shudder when I hear that word!
I leaf through the newspapers lying around on the office table and come across the sentence “Brian Jones flew to Africa for a vacation in order to decide about his future in peace.”
That can’t be right, I think to myself, and give their road manager Tom Krylock a good interrogation. He admits that Brian is hiding at a friend’s in London! The good Tom relents, gives me a number and after a few phone calls, I have Brian on the phone:
“I don’t give interviews,” he growled sleepily, “I’ve already told it all. It’s in the newspapers.”
“The newspapers also say that you’re in Africa”, I reply.
“Well,” says Brian, a bit more comfortable now. “Come back in three weeks. Until then, I’m not talking to any reporters. “
“Not even to an old friend?” I ask. He’s still on the line. I’m worried he will hang up soon.
“Give me Tom,” says Brian.
Tom picks up the phone, listens for a few seconds, squeezes in a quick “OK” before hanging up.
“I shall take you to Brian this evening,” he tells me, “but keep your mouth shut!” A few hours later on a trip through London at night, my thoughts begin to go back in time.
Brian announces: “Now I want the big money!”
Exactly seven years ago, Brian Jones was playing hot music with his trio on the stage of a shabby restaurant in Ealing. Right then, two guys jumped up on stage with him and “climbed aboard”: Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. They got along right away. By the end of the year they were joined by Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.
Despite hunger and frustration in the beginning, the five stuck together. Three years later, the Rolling Stones had made it. Mick, Brian, Keith, Bill and Charlie even rolled right over the Beatles at times.
I was together with the Stones often during the past four years. I liked Brian the most. He was probably the most difficult of the five, the most sensitive and the toughest at the same time. But always a good friend.
And then Brian is sitting across from me over in his hiding place. He’s got a full beard. “You want me to tell the truth,” he says ironically. “Well then, the old Stones’ sound is not my taste. I think it’s out of date. I want to write my own music and play. After a friendly discussion, we came to the conclusion that separation is the only solution. Satisfied?”
“Is there really no chance that you might get back together again?” I ask.
“None!” replied Brian. “Two years ago I wanted to leave, but Mick talked me out of it. Today there is no turning back.” I look at Brian as he tops off his whiskey. He looks pale and haggard and under no circumstances happy. “You know that the Stones want to go on tour again soon. I think the fans will miss you,” I say, trying to lure him out of his shell.
“You think so?” Brian’s face brightens up. “Tell them I’ll have my own group soon. The decision is within the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll only produce music. I know one thing for sure: I want to be rich and finally rake in the big bucks. Just like Mick and Keith…”
Brian jumps up, reaches into a box of records and gives me an LP.
I read “JOUJOUKA” on the label.
They hope the money will keep on rolling in.
“I produced that one in Algeria. My first LP. Would you like to listen to them?” asks Brian.
Of course I do. For the next 20 minutes I hear flute sounds with dogs barking.
“Pure African folk music,” says Brian. “Recorded at night out on the street.” He is entranced by the music. I am not.
“This is music,” Brian says enthusiastically. “I’m going to compose music in this style.”
Gloomy, almost depressed, I leave Brian. I fear that it will be a long time before Brian, the lost Stone, becomes a wealthy man.
The next evening I go down to the Olympic Studio, where the Stones are recording their new single “Honky Tonk Woman.”
“Did you talk to Brian?” Mick greets me. “He must have told you that we’re still friends. Keith, Bill, Charlie and I all say so too.”
Whether a split in friendship or otherwise – for Stones fans, it doesn’t matter. The Stones will keep on rolling. Now with Mick Taylor, 20, who previously played rhythm guitar with John Mayall, they’ve found a new Stone. They’re back to five again. Whether the new Stone will replace the old one is another question.
“Aren’t you scared,” I ask Mick, “that Brian’s departure could hurt the reputation of the Rolling Stones?”
Mick: “I think our ‘bad reputation’ has gotten better and better lately. And we’re still nowhere near the end – even without Brian!”