THE STONES AND BRIAN JONES – BBC 2 Documentary by Nick Broomfield

Stonesmania never grabbed headlines like Beatlemania but it was just as intense, perhaps even more so as the Stones attracted almost as many boys as girls and these fans were more uninhibited, more inclined to rush the stage and grab hold of Mick or Brian or Keith. They didn’t bother much with Bill, who was a bit forbidding, and couldn’t reach Charlie behind his drums, but then again Charlie was much too dignified to get involved in any of that malarkey anyway.

        Brian wasn’t dignified. He laughed his head off at the behaviour of fans, even encouraged it. One widely circulated comment from him that didn’t appear in last night’s documentary on BB2 occurred when the Stones were on the same bill as The Beatles at London’s Royal Albert Hall in April, 1963. Observing the fan frenzy as he helped Neil Aspinall move The Beatles’ gear, Brian turned to early manager Giorgio Gomelsky. “That’s what I went, Giorgio,” he said.

        He certainly got it, as several wonderfully chaotic scenes of Stonesmania worldwide in the documentary confirm, but if Jones really did say that, it gives lie to the belief that he was the purist in the group who railed against the pop star ambitions of Mick and Keith, aided and abetted by their next manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. This theory was promoted by this very watchable documentary, which featured plenty of hitherto unseen footage of Jones as a boy and interviews with many from the Stones circle, some new and others archival, prominent among them four of the five women who bore his children, all of whom harbour surprisingly benign feelings towards their father regardless of the callous manner in which he abandoned them.

        What is without question is that without Jones there would not have been a Rolling Stones. He was the band’s architect, furthering Jagger and Richards research into, and enthusiasm for, blues music, recruiting Bill and, probably, Charlie and taking on the hustler’s role until Oldham and his early partner Eric Easton became their managers. Bill Wyman, credited as Historical Consultant, confirms this and throughout the 90-minute programme extols Brian’s talents on guitar and other instruments he brought along to the studio to enhance recordings like Little Red RoosterLady Jane and Paint It Black. Wyman, a genial old cove who turns 87 in October, sits in his book-filled study like a long-retired university don and gamely hums along to Stones numbers, explaining the parts that Jones contributed while waving his fingers around like a conductor. 

        The other side of the coin isn’t so entertaining. Raised in a family that expected him to aspire to their own bourgeoise ambitions, Jones was a mixed-up ball of confusion, at times playful, at times cruel, at times arrogant, at times deeply unsure of himself. When he wanted to be, he could be exceedingly courteous. After his parents kicked him out of the family home for not living up to their upwardly mobile expectations, he charmed his way into the homes of various girlfriends, impregnated them and moved on. 

        Once he gravitated to London, he founded the Stones and, at first, seemed crucial to their progress. He was a shaggy-haired dandy dressed in all the latest styles, a fixture of Swinging London, liked and admired by his peers, even Dylan. However, as his role as the group’s leader was usurped by Mick and Keith, encouraged in their songwriting by Oldham, his insecurity lead him into a downward spiral, exacerbated by drugs, dismissal from the group for being unable to cut it on stage and, soon afterwards, his death. 

        All that is pretty much well-known to anyone who has followed the Stones’ story over the years, and the documentary reinforces this version of events. It skims over Brian’s court appearances on drugs offences, doesn’t go into much detail about the bust-up with Anita Pallenberg – though all concur she was a terrible influence – and, unlike subsequent books that cleave to the murder conspiracy theory, avoids the headline-grabbing temptation to suggest that this was how Jones met his death at Cotchford Farm in East Sussex, the former home of Winnie The Pooh creator A. A. Milne, where his body was found in the swimming pool on July 3, 1969, aged just 27.

        What I did learn was that Jones hated ‘Satisfaction’, that four of his five sons were called Julian and that Jones’ father Lewis came to regret the way he treated his son. The documentary closes with one of his girlfriends, Linda Lawrence, reading a heart-rending note from Lewis Jones to Brian that she found amongst her mementoes many years later. “I have been a very poor and intolerant father,” he wrote. “I was quite out of my depth.”

        As narrator Paul Trynka, author of a book on Jones, makes clear, few of the millions of fans who nowadays flock to see the Stones in vast stadiums around the world have even heard of Brian Jones. Nick Broomfields documentary goes some way to restoring Jones role in their phenomenal career, if not his reputation as a human being. 



Off we go again on another romp through the annals of Allan Jones, the music writer who never refused a drink yet somehow remained sober enough to set down his intemperate adventures on paper so that we might all enjoy them. This is Allan’s second volume of memoirs which, like the first, features a cast of rock stars who plied their trade from the mid-seventies to around the turn of the millennium, a period that encompassed Allan’s tenure on Melody Maker, where he rose to become editor, and Uncut, of which he was founding editor, remaining until he retired in 2014.

        Allan again offers up stories on many of his favourite musicians, both friends and foes, some of whom appeared in his previous book with some new faces this time around and the results are much the same: bad behaviour on the road and elsewhere, exhausting trips abroad that become feats of endurance and interviews wherein ideological disagreements over music and/or career status are exacerbated by alcohol and lead to meltdown. There are 45 chapters on characters as diverse as Elton John, Screaming Lord Sutch, Peter Cook, Joe Ely, Oliver Stone and Jon Anderson, lately ejected from Yes when Allan tracked him down to a mansion in the South of France. They vary in length from three or four pages to about a dozen. 

        As before, Allan’s sympathies lean more towards the post-punk generation than the heroes of the sixties and early seventies, and he’s unafraid to confront anyone whom he feels might be outstaying their welcome in the rock trade. In this regard he coaxes Anderson and Robert Plant to admit to being baffled at the negative jibes they encountered from punk rockers, while at the same time subtly implying that both have been so insulated by their lofty status that reality is simply beyond their comprehension. 

        While a common theme of Allan’s work tends towards hilarious escapades that involve consumption of booze on a heroic scale, these pieces confirm how wrong it is to assume that this is all you get. Longer pieces on Sting, who’s full of himself, Elvis Costello, a particular favourite, Chrissie Hynde, ditto, and Jerry Dammers, initially hesitant when it comes to disclosure, are both revealing and fact-packed; revealing insofar as Allan gets to grips with the nature and temperaments of those about whom he writes, while allowing the facts to pile up naturally as he goes along. In this regard he’s never, ever, boring. Sting, by the way, comes across as a someone you’d cross the street to avoid, while Bryan Ferry’s ranting about the way he is perceived by the media is almost certainly provoked by his reliance on a “tastefully patterned earthenware dish piled high with cocaine”. 

        Reading through, it is possible to discern how the differing drug and drink habits of those Allan encounters are reflected in the music they produce. By and large, the more they drink, the more he enjoys their music. Those with relatively abstemious habits come across as a bit dull, not just as interviewees but in the music they produce. Nevertheless, even those unlikely to stimulate Allan’s sympathy are whipped into life by his prose, like Ian Anderson, cod-piece favouring leader of Jethro Tull, who, believe it or not, opens their conversation by asking, ‘Are you in good cheer?’ “like a knighted thespian declaiming something shouty by Shakespeare”.

        I’m envious that Allan spent an afternoon with Peter Cook, our greatest ever comedian, at his house in Hampstead, discussing the bawdy language on the Derek And Clive albums he made with Dudley Moore, and also that he spent a day with R.E.M. in Athens just before Christmas 1999, cajoling them to wear Santa outfits for an MM cover. I particularly enjoyed his encounters with John Cale, clearly one of his heroes; also his interviews with Little Feat, delayed after they were frisked on arrival at Heathrow. Nothing was found. “We sent everything ahead of us,” says Richie Hayward. “It was all waiting for us when we arrived.” 

        In the book’s moving final chapter Allan catches up with guitarist Joe Carrasco, an old pal, who’s playing at The Cavern in Raynes Park, an evening that brings out in him hitherto uncharacteristic nostalgic reminiscences, not just about the Tex-Mex music he loves but fellow music writers who have left us, a roll call of names I recognise. As the final chords of ‘Little Queenie’ fade away Allan thinks back to… “other times, a hundred places like this. The years peel away, time in retreat. It comes back to you then, all of it. The music, the girl on your arm. Small rooms, lit up with guitars, feedback, love and laughter. All those bands, all that beautiful noise…. Where did they all go, and so many people with them. Talk about smoke through a keyhole.”

        Too Late To Stop Now is another very funny book by a very funny writer who, at the last moment, switches elegantly to poignant mode that made me think as well as laugh. Only someone who loves the music as much as he does, and whose life was so enriched by it, could do that. Thanks Allan. 



My otherwise dismal record in picking winners for induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame can be upgraded slightly, for two out of the five acts I nominated have been accepted. Last year I managed only one out of five. 

        Today brought news that Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against The Machine and The Spinners are the 2023 inductees from among those for whom I and other electors were invited to vote. In addition to those, four previous nominees  DJ Cool Herc, Link Wray, Chaka Khan and Al Kooper  appear to have been given a sort of wild card entry. All four have been nominated in previous years but weren't on the voting form this year. As far as I am aware, this is a break from the normal procedure and suggests someone upstairs in the R&RHoF boardroom has it in their power to shoo in whoever they want regardless of how many, or how few, votes they received. Bernie Taupin, Elton Johns lyricist, and Don Cornelius, host of the long US TV music show Soul Train, are inducted into the non-performing category. 

        I voted for Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson, so I’ve doubled my success rate – if it can be called that – but am still way below 50% in overall terms, not that it matters much these days. As I have repeatedly observed in recent years, induction into the R&RHoF has become increasingly irrelevant of late, not that this in any way demeans the work of Willie Nelson, whose music and attitude I enjoy, or Sheryl Crow, who has what it takes to play alongside any inductee you care to name. 

I’m curious as to how Kate Bush will respond to her induction. Famously reticent in terms of public profile and generally unwilling to perform in public without extensive preparation, I somehow can’t see her belting out ‘Wuthering Heights’ or ‘Running Up That Hill’ with an unrehearsed scratch band. As far as George Michael is concerned, in an ideal world Elton will step up to the plate, sing ‘Careless Whisper’ and accept the award on his behalf, the only hitch being that if he sticks to his plans he might have officially retired by the time the ceremony takes place. 

Among the losers are Joy Division/New Order, which is a shame as I wanted to see if avowed adversaries Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook would share a stage, and long-suffering Iron Maiden, snubbed for the second time. I can’t help feeling the long-suspect anti-British bias played a part in these rejections. 

I voted for New Order/Joy Division but not Iron Maiden as any sympathy for heavy metal I once had has long since gone down the plughole. I also voted for White Stripes, who’ll no doubt be nominated again and get in eventually, ditto Warren Zevon whose elimination surprises me insofar as he was both American and a critics’ favourite, two criteria that almost always ensure induction.