Known as the “Beautiful Stone”, and the most wasteful, Brian Jones was found drowned in his pool July 3rd 1969 shortly after being kicked out of the Stones. The Stones held a memorial concert July 5th at Hyde park were they also introduced his replacement, 20 year-old Mick Taylor whom they picked-up from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. It was Brian who is credited with starting the group (along with Ian Stewart who they kicked-out for looking too normal) and giving the group it’s name. (after the Muddy Waters tune “Rollin’ Stone”). Brian assumed early leadership of the group until Mick and Keith’s songwriting began to dominant. Although he couldn’t write songs he provided Sitar,Marimba, Dulcimer, slide guitar and other instumentation to the Stones recordings. In 1967 things began to fall apart for Brian. Keith stole his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg while in Tangiers and he was repeatively busted for drugs. In 1968 as the Stones came out of the pyschedelic era Brian did not. His use of hallucinogenics increased and he started missing gigs and recording sessions, when he did show up he was in no condition to play. When the Stones decided to go back on tour in 1969 they had no choice but to kick him out of the band. A month later he was dead. His cause of death was listed as “Death By Misadventure”. New reports have surfaced that Brian Jones was actually murdered by a handyman doing painting around the house, long suspected he confessed on his deathbed. This seems to be plausable because Brian’s autopsy revealed minor traces of alcohol and no drugs in his system. Brian Jones was 27 years old at the time of his death.
Billy Jones was one third of the three guitar army known as the “Outlaws”. In 1975 they released their debut album. In 1976 they followed up with “Lady In Waiting” and “Hurry Sundown” in 1977. Henry Paul then left to form “Grey Ghost”. The band released “Bringing It Back Alive” in 1978 and then started a downhill slide with changing personnel. Some of their popular tunes included “There Goes Another Love Song”, “Green Grass and High Tides (A 10 minute “Freebird” style rock-out)”,”Hurry Sundown”, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”,”Take It Any Way You Want It” and “Breaker Breaker”. In February of 1995 he commited suicide at the age of 45
Robert Johnson is the undisputed “King of the Delta Blues”. Ask any worthy rock musician about Robert Johnson and they could go on for hours. Mick, Keith, Eric Clapton and Dickey Betts are all huge Robert Johnson fans. Some say he made a pact with the devil while “standing at the crossroads”. Whatever the folklore may be, his impact on blues and rock music is immeasurable. Much research has been conducted on his life with conflicting accounts but this much is known. Robert Johnson was born the son of a sharecropper in Hazelhurst , Mississippi on May 8th, 1911. He frequented the “jook joints” on the Mississippi Delta were he would watch Son House, Charlie Patton and Willie Brown do their thing. He would often grab one of the guitars and try to play it before being run off. One day he showed-up at the “jook joint” with a guitar and played the “Terraplane Blues” and blew the roof off the place. From then on he rode the “blinds” (train), traveling from city to city playing were ever he could for pocket money. He hooked-up with Johnny Shines and Calvin Frazier and took Highway 51 to Chicago were they went to play the blues . His slide guitar playing still remains as some of the most haunting today and is standard learning material for any serious acoustic slide guitar player. The songs Robert Johnson recorded on a wire recorder in a Dallas hotel room are all considered classics.Here is a complete list of every Robert Johnson song he wrote and recorded: “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”,”Dust My Broom”,”Sweet Home Chicago”,”Rambling On My Mind”,”When You’ve Got a Good Friend”,”Come On Into My Kitchen”,”Terraplane Blues”,”Phonograph Blues”,”32-20 Blues”,”The’re Red Hot”,”Dead Shrimp Blues”,”Crossroad Blues”,”Walking Blues”,”Last Fair Deal Gone Down”,”Preaching Blues”,”If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day”,”Stones In My Passway”,”I’m a Steady Rolling Man”,”From Four Till Late”, “Hellhound On My Trail”,”Little Queen of Spades”,”Drunken-hearted Man”,”Stop Breakin’ Down”, “Traveling Riverside Blues”,”Honeymoon Blues”,”Love In Vain”, “Milkcow Calf Blues”, “Malted Milk” and “Me and the Devil”. Aside from the music, there are only two photographs of Robert Johnson that are known to exist. He had a reputation as a ladies man which eventually would lead to his untimely demise. Son House told him never to drink from an open bottle but he didn’t listen, because a jealous husband spiked his booze with poison at a gig one night. According to interviews with “Honeyboy” Edwards who was present that night, there was more then one out to get Johnson. Everytime Johnson said he felt ill others in on the conspiracy encouraged him to take another drink. After he collapsed “Honeyboy” Edwards and a couple of others carried him to a friend’s couch. He hung on for three days before finally passing away on August 16th, 1938 at the age of 27. (the official death certificate lists his age at 26, while others maintain he was 29). His legend lives on to this day.
Al Jackson was the ultimate “Soul” drummer of Stax recording studios in the sixties and early seventies playing behind Otis Redding, Johnny Taylor, Al Green and a host of others. On October 1st of 1975 while walking to the Stax recording studios in Memphis, he was shot and killed by a would-be robber. He was 39 years old
“INXS” lead-singer Michael Hutchence commited suicide by hanging himself inside his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton in Sydney Austrailia on the morning of November 22nd, 1997 while the rest of the group waited for him at a rehearsal studio where they were preparing for the group’s 20th-anniversary tour. In 1987 the group released the album “Kick”, which spawned four hit-singles ; “Need You Tonight”,”Never Tear Us Apart”,”New Sensation” and “Devil Inside”. By the nineties record sales had fallen off but they still remained popular in Austrailia were the group had originated from. Michael Hutchence was 37 years old.
“Howlin’ Wolf” was born “Chester Arthur Burnett” on June 10th, 1910 in West Point, Mississippi. He is considered one of the greatest blues vocalist of all time. In addition to this he was an accomplished harp player who learned from “Sonny Boy Williamson”. He had a low gritty voice that would curl your hair and was known for his trademark “howl” which he inflected on his recordings. In 1951 he recorded two of his own compositions for Chess Records entitled “Moanin’ At Midnight” and “How Many More Years”. In 1954 he relocated from Memphis to Chicago and teamed-up with songwriter bass player Willie Dixon were the two recorded both Dixon’s and Wolf’s most memorable tunes. He wrote a number of blues standards such as “Sitting on Top of the World”, “Smokestack Lightin'”, “The Red Rooster”,”Who’s Been Talkin” and “Forty-four”. Like many of the Delta Blues singers he had ties to the greats: Willie Brown,Charlie Patton, and the immortal Robert Johnson. Wolf stood 6’3″ and was an imposing figure behind the microphone who performed as if in a hypnotic trance. Underneath his gruff exterior was a charming personality with a quality that just made people like him. Brian Jones was a big fan and brought him on “Shindig” were he performed “How Many More Years” in true-wolf form. In 1970 he cut an album entitled “The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions” were he recorded all of his great songs with some of England’s finest musicians including Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and Steve Winwood. He toured all the way up to his death from a kidney ailment on January 10th, 1976 at the age of 65. In 1997 “The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society” of West Point Mississippi erected a mammoth tombstone with a lifesize marble statue of the Wolf over his grave.
Nicky Hopkins was a popular session pianist and sometimes group-member for a variety of bands including “The Rolling Stones”. Thru out the late-sixties and seventies it seemed that everytime you picked up an album cover and read the credits, Nicky Hopkins was listed as the Piano player. In 1968 he joined “The Jeff Beck Group” (Which included Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood) and played on “Truth” and “Beck-ola”. He also did a brief stint with the latter version of “Quicksilver Messenger Service”. He died September 9th of 1994 at the age of 50 due to a medical illness.
Douglas Hopkins was a songwriter with the group “The Gin Blossoms”. Their CD “New Miserable Experience” was a smash hit with tunes like “Hey Jealousy”,”Found Out About You” ,”Until I Fall Away” and “Allison Road”. After Hopkins committed suicide on December 5th , 1993 at the age of 32, they released a lifeless follow-up and then broke-up citing a lack of interest.
Shannon Hoon was a talented singer songwriter who fronted the band Blind Melon. Shannon epitomized the wreckless carefree attitude of the Generation X’ers. Mad, confused, ambitionless with no direction they wanted to make a statement. The only thing was no one could figure out what to complain about. Shannon and his generation took the excess’s of the 60’s,70’s and 80’s, rolled them up into one big joint and smoked it. While in his teens Shannon was asked to join a band and he took to it like a fish to water. He had a unique voice and was a natural on stage. He soon left his home town of Lafayette , Indiana and headed for LA. He soon hooked up with what was to become “Blind Melon”. He was befriended by Axl Rose who invited him to sing back-up on a GNR tune. On the strength of a demo the band was signed by Capitol records. After two singles failed to sell Capitol was ready to drop the band but released “No Rain” because it was a concert favorite. With the bee suit theme video it became one of the most popular videos on M-TV and the album went gold. During the shoot Shannon reportly was on LSD and walked around naked half the time. Shannon was a wild man and dove into the LA style consuming about every drug he could get his hands on. As Shannon’s drug use escalated it soon became apparrent that he had developed a severe substance abuse problem. At a concert on halloween night while on LSD he went over the edge by urinating on the audience. He was subsequently arrested. Realizing he had a problem he did a stint in re-hab but relapsed shortly afterward. Again he did rehab and was straight for about 3 months but when “Blind Melon” performed at Woodstock in 1994 he took LSD and gave the performance of a lifetime. The birth of his daughter mellowed him out for a while but when out on the road he began using heroin and cocaine again. While on route to New Orleans he engaged in an all night cocaine binge. The band then checked into their hotel rooms. Shortly afterward Shannon left his hotel room. What happened next remains a mystery. Shannon was found dead in the roadies tour bus, dead from a cocaine overdose on October 21st, 1995 at the age of 28. The CD “Soup” was released posthumously after his death and dedicated to his daughter. During his short life Shannon journaled all his travels on video thru a fish eye lens. Like the rest of his contemporaries he burned out too fast
John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker was born outside Clarksdale Mississippi on August 22nd, 1917 in the heart of the delta. The son of a sharecropper he discovered the delta blues at an early age. He learned guitar from his stepfather Will Moore who played along the likes of Charlie Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He left home at 14 and made his way up to Memphis Tennesee working odd jobs and honing his technique. He eventually landed a factory job in Detroit and played in clubs at night. T-bone Walker gave him his first electric guitar. In 1948 he recorded “Boogie Chillen’ which sold over a million copies. This song was to become the blueprint for most of his later recordings. Some of his better known songs were “Boom Boom”,”one bourbon,one scotch,one beer”,”I’m in the mood”,”crawling king snake” and “dimples”. Hooker invented what was to be coined as the “Boogie-woogie riff”. This riff can be most identified with ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and Canned Heat’s “Hockey Boogie”. He was revered by rock musicians who covered his tunes. George Thorogood, The Allman Brothers, The Animals, The Doors and a host of other groups all had a hooker tune in their bag. Led Zeppelin would even borrow phrases and some “hooks” from the hook. In 1970 John Lee Hooker recorded a 2 record set with Canned Heat called “Hooker N Heat”. Most of the tunes were the Hook alone plugged into a Silvertone amp and a piece of plywood to do his stomping with Canned Heat providing ocassional backing and Al Wilson’s harmonica. In 1989 during the Steel Wheels tour Hooker was invited to perform in the pay per view broadcast of the Stones concert held in Atlantic City which also featured Eric Clapton and Axl Rose. Hooker was 72 years old and the Stones quite didn’t know what to expect. As “The Hook” hit the stage Ron Wood leaned over and told him “just play anything”, but before he could finish “The Hook” launched into “Boogie Chillen” setting the boogie tempo for the band to follow. The hook pulled out all the stops not missing a beat and showcased his famous index finger strum which he raked up and down the strings. The Hook also had a bit part in the 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers”. On June 21st, 2001 John Lee Hooker died in his sleep at the age of 83, signaling the end of one of the last remaining blues legends