Brian Jones by Alan Clayson
THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE FOUNDER OF THE ROLLING STONES by Trevor Hobley
"Although he wasn't someone you'd trust with either your heart or your wallet, Brian Jones was the most rock 'n' roll of the Rolling Stones, the group that – alongside the Beatles – soundtracked the swinging 60's. He was the epitome of the doomed rock hero, characterised by a loveless upbringing, bohemian wanderings, illegitimate offspring, drug busts, neurotic self-absorption and tragic death. Until now, the legend of Brian Jones has been nourished by the half truths, tidy-minded media fiction and accounts that dwell upon everything other than the subject's artistic output. Alan Clayson's 'Brian Jones' is the definitive biography, and over the coming months it will be joined by the complete biographies of the other Rolling Stones".
So say the notes on Page 30 of the Sanctuary Publishing catalogue for 2003/4 outlining a new biography on Brian Jones published in February 2004.
This paperback, one of seven commissioned by Sanctuary will eventually form a boxed set of the individual Rolling Stones life stories. Seven? I hear you say quizingly – yes seven, as fortunately Mick Taylor, and the modern-day Stone Ron Wood have not been forgotten as part of this compendium. But now I hear the shouts: "What about Stu?". Ian Stewart, the oft forgotten Stone is, I believe, certainly worthy of his own edition and having put this point to the author I am assured that this matter is in hand. Clayson stressed that he was in full agreement and has approached his publishers with a proposal for a circa 20,000 word tome on Stu to be included in this project.
I was fortunate to meet Alan when he interviewed Pat Andrews and Richard Hattrell for his analysis of Brian's life. A charming and most agreeable person with an imposing pedigree as an author, he was once described as, 'the A.J.P. Taylor of the pop world'. Clayson has penned many books on popular music, including 'Backbeat', the story of the fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, and the two most important people in his life, John Lennon and Astrid Kirchherr - subsequently transferred to the big screen title 'Heartbeat' starring Stephen Dorff in the lead role.
Amongst the numerous books written by this productive author are 'Back In The High Life', a biography of Steve Winwood, the life and artistic legacy of Roy Orbison 'Only The Lonely', 'Aspects Of Elvis', 'Hamburg - The Cradle of British Rock', 'The Yardbirds', 'The Walrus Was Ringo' and individual biographies on John, Paul, George and Ringo, a precursor box-set to the upcoming Stones volumes.
On requesting a preview of the manuscript for a possible review in AfterMath, Alan was only too pleased to part with his many months of research and give a foretaste of his work. In tandem with Clayson's work I read, and agreed with Dave Thomson, sixties photographer and close friend of Brian whose profile appears in Issue #2 of AfterMath; when asked about his favourite books on Brian and after revealing the best and worst he goes on to say, and I quote: "And there's no book which talks in depth about the music which was so important to Brian as Clayson's".
Well Alan Clayson's book does reveal 'in depth' the musical influences that were so important to Brian and when I say 'in depth' I cannot help but admire the author for his attention to detail and thorough researching skills. The twenty seven and a half turbulent years of Brian Jones' life are treated with sincerity, frankness and accuracy, Alan Clayson does not sensationalise the public perception of Brian's rock and roll lifestyle and gives, I believe, a true and honest account of the man.
This volume of almost 70,000 words concentrates on Brian Jones the person, his life, loves and influences, the agonies he experienced and the agonies he bestowed on others. To quote Lennon: "Well, he was different over the years as he disintegrated. He ended up the kind of guy that you dread, he'd come on the 'phone – and you knew it was trouble. He was really in a lot of pain – but in the early days, he was all right".
I found the book to be a no-holds barred life story of a tortured soul, I learned things about Brian that humoured, shocked, impressed and a book that certainly held one's attention. In all, a good solid read and dare I say it - not only for dedicated fans of Brian Jones but a book that will appeal to all blues, jazz fans and rock 'n' rollers the world over.
Brian Jones (ISBN 1-86074-544-X) published by Sanctuary Publishing Ltd.
Sanctuary House, 45 Sinclair Road, London W14 0NS.
Alan Clayson's website can be found at www.alanclayson.com