Writing a definitive biography of a multi-dimensional personality like Brian Jones isn’t easy, and a look through Amazon tells me that many authors have tried. However Paul Trynka is the right guy for the job, having already penned great biographies of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, two similarly larger-than-life figures. I haven’t read any previous Jones bios, but Trynka claims to have unearthed some new important details in Jones’ life story, which makes the book unique. Plus he avoids getting caught up in the cheap “was he murdered?” sensationalism previous books have leaned heavily on – in fact, he doesn’t think Jones was murdered and even debunks some of the popular theories on Jones’ death. Trynka also paints a vivid portrait of Jones’ life leading up to the Stones, including his fractured relationship with his parents, his pre-Stones career (including years of performing live), and fathering four children with four different women – three before he was famous! There’s also tremendous insight into life in The Rolling Stones’ camp during their formative years, when Jones was their leader – the guy who had the creativity and experience to drive the rest of the band (who were relative amateurs). He paints a pretty ugly picture of the band’s personal relationships with one another, with sexual one-upmanship, constant jockeying for position in the press and a myriad of petty barbs all a part of daily life. He even suggests that Mick and Keith’s eventual dislike for Brian may have stemmed from him making a measly 5 pounds more per week than the rest of the band early on. Lastly, he illustrates quite well how that ugly side of the band caused Mick and Keith to push Brian to the sidelines once they became more confident in their own abilities, a practice which continues to this very day as they regularly minimize his considerable contributions with a series of misremembered facts and outright lies. It’s an interesting and often revelatory read.
Seemingly mandatory rock-bio fact-checking oversight: Trynka mentions that Jones recorded a soundtrack in to German director Volker Schlondorff’s Mord un Totschlag in 1967, referring to the film as Schlondorff’s follow-up to The Tin Drum. The Tin Drum wasn’t filmed until almost a decade after Brian Jones died.