The Stones and Brian Jones is a reverent, objective, and above all, intimate documentary. It tells the story of the heart and spirit of The Rolling Stones.
“Brian was the heart and spirit of The Rolling Stones, but now barely anyone knows his name.”
The Stones and Brian Jones, a BBC documentary directed by Nick Broomfield, reconsecrates the immeasurable impact that Brian Jones had on the band he started. It offers never-before-seen footage as well as plenty of live concert and interview recordings of Jones’s family and friends to supplement the strong storytelling of Broomfield. From start to finish, the documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Jones: how he went from the most integral Stones member to a shy, skittish player in the looming shadow of Mick Jagger.
The Rolling Stones have been a band for more than 60 years, and have assuredly earned the title of “greatest rock band on the planet.” Known for their hits like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Start Me Up,” and fronted by the legendary Mick Jagger, the Stones are a worldwide cultural icon; but many fans today are unaware of the band’s tumultuous history involving founding member Brian Jones.
The documentary doesn’t bring much new or surprising content to the table, per se, but it is a high-quality retelling of the history of the Stones with a heightened sensitivity toward the personal health of Brian Jones. It’s refreshing in that it doesn’t dwell on the conspiracy theories surrounding his death. Instead, Broomfield paints the portrait of a troubled Rolling Stone who succumbed to the increasing pressure of expectations for the band and his inevitable loss of control over their trajectory. A strong proponent of the band as a rhythm and blues group, Jones was dismayed to see their trend toward rock and roll. Footage from the documentary reveals a slow transition from a youthful celebrity in the spotlight to a cynical member grumbling as the band evolved.
Intimate footage with the Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman, Linda Lawrence (Brian’s girlfriend and the mother of one of his four children), Lewis Blount Jones (Brian’s father), and many others tied to Brian Jones is used reverently to portray him as a human with flaws, desires, passions, and needs like any other young person navigating a rise to fame. Jones was integral to the Stones’ success. But, as the documentary reveals, he had little support surrounding him—and what support he may have had, he pushed away.
The documentary solemnly portrays the descent of Jones; the portion regarding his death and funeral is particularly emotional. A facet highlighted in this account of Jones is the historical impact his death had. As rock and roll became popularized by the Beatles and the Stones, among others, the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” stereotype was feared by most from older generations. The death of Jones was, as the documentary claims, one of the first tangible examples that people used to argue that rock and roll was dangerous, even life-threatening.
Nick Broomfield is no stranger to music-related documentaries. He gravitates toward those musical icons which rose to fame and suffered tragic deaths: his documentaries on Whitney Houston, Kurt Cobain, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac offer keen insights and respectful portrayals of the artists. Here, Broomfield returns to cover the history of one of the most beloved bands in the world and its entrancing founding member, a task as gargantuan as the Stones themselves. He does so masterfully.
The hope of a documentarian is to immortalize a monumental story, doing so with extreme intimate engagement and care. With exclusive footage, chronological storytelling, and revelations from key people in Brian Jones’s life, Nick Broomfield does just that. A story that this generation could soon forget is again under the gaze of film and music connoisseurs, solidifying Jones’s legacy and the impact he had on history at large. The Stones and Brian Jones is a reverent, objective, and above all, personal documentary sure to satisfy any longtime Stones fan and surprise unfamiliar fans along the way.
The Stones and Brian Jones will be released in US theaters for a Special One Night Only event on November 7, 2023, and will be available nationwide on November 17. In the UK, the film is now available to watch on digital and on demand.