Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones was the first member of the rock & roll’s notorious 27 Club. The number stands for how old he and others were when they died.
Jones’ mysterious death on July 3, 1969 is the subject of Danny Garcia’s documentary, Rolling Stone: The Life & Death of Brian Jones. Following Jones' drug busts in 1967 and 1968, the Stones decided to replace him with Mick Taylor on lead guitar just a month before Jones was found dead in a swimming pool at his Cotchford Farm estate in southern England. The events that led up to his death are chronicled meticulously. Similar to the storyline in Stoned, Stephen Wooley’s 2005 Jones biopic, Garcia builds a case against Frank Thorogood, a contractor who was making repairs to the estate, and the local police who labeled it “death by misadventure.” Twenty years later, the police reviewed the case and came to the same conclusion.
Since none of the living original Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman – are interviewed, the talking heads are mostly friends and associates of Jones. “Brian was the DNA for the band’s rebellious nature,” says Scott Jones, a journalist who's investigated the case. He believes UK authorities were on a mission to destroy the nascent counterculture that the Stones and the Beatles represented. It began with numerous drug busts of stars like Jagger, Richards, Jones, John Lennon and George Harrison. “The establishment wanted to do away with the Stones,” suggests Stash Klossowski, one of Brian Jones’ oldest friends. “They wanted to take down the Stones,” his daughter, Barbara Marion, concurs.
All these years later, people are still fussing over Brian Jones’ death. It’s like the Kurt Cobain case. Many believe Cobain was killed and did not shoot himself in 1994. He was also 27. Benjamin Statler’s 2015 doc Soaked in Bleach explores the Nirvana frontman’s death. The year before, the Seattle police department reopened the case, but concluded again that Cobain took his own life.
Garcia's film contends there was struggle at the estate and Jones actually died in a trough and was moved to the pool. But there's no significant evidence that he was physically assaulted. The official cause of death remains “swimming whilst under the influence of alcohol and drugs.”
Of course, Jones’ death didn’t stop the Stones. Fifty years later, they’re still rolling along (minus bassist Wyman, who left the band in 1989).
The other members of the 27 Club? Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse.
1/30 - Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY
1/30, 2/1 & 2/4 - Regent Theatre, Boston, MA
2/8 - The Frida Cinema, Santa Ana, CA
2/13 - Ark Lodge Cinema, Seattle, WA
2/15 - Harris Theatre Downtown, Pittsburgh, PA
2/15 - Olga 17, Sao Paulo, Brazil
2/23 - The Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH
2/23 - Moviate, Harrisburg, PA
2/24 - Bio Roy, Gothenburg, Sweden
2/26 - Bio Rio, Stockholm, Sweden
2/27 - Music Box Theater, Chicago, IL
2/28 - Film Noir, Brooklyn, NY
2/29 - Cine Universitario, Montevideo, Uruguay
3/8-12 - The Electric, Birmingham, UK
3/12 - Strummer, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4/4 - Electric Palace Cinema, Hastings, UK
4/8 - Trylon Cinema, Minneapolis, MN
This article was posted on January 20 and updated on February 4.