The story of Brian Jones last live concert with The Rolling Stones

News 09/05/2020

Brian Jones took to the stage on 12th May, 1968 for his last public concert with the Rolling Stones. The show took place at Empire Pool in Wembley, London for the 1968 New Musical Express Pollwinners' Concert - with the Stones ready to accept their award for Best R&B Group.

The band had closed their most recent tour with a show in Athens in April of 1967 and had kept a relatively low profile since. They wouldn't play in front of a crowd again until November 1969, when they kicked off a visit to the U.S. with a show in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

Photo credits to Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jones' presence in the band he'd founded was quickly fading due to his substance abuse issues paired with growing personal conflicts between himself and his fellow bandmembers - particularly Keith Richards, who had gotten together with Jones' fiancée Anita Pallenberg a year earlier.

It was clear for the band's inner circle by 1968 that it wouldn't be long until Jones' departed. But from the outside the Stones had bigger issues. Some experts thought the band were already washed up, with the Daily Express publishing an article just days before they took the stage for Jones' final performance pointing out that the band hadn't had a No. 1 single in the U.K. since 1966.

While hindsight shows concern over the Stone's long-term success wasn't necessary, the band had suffered a significant amount of creative drift at the time after 'Paint It Black' topped the charts. The band began to move away from R&B towards pop and psychedelia with a string of albums that included 'Between the Buttons', 'Flowers' and 'Their Satanic Majesties Request', and they seemed to be losing a bit of their early momentum.

After the New Musical Express (NME) show, the Stones' were powered back to success though. The two-song set consisted of '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' and the live debut of their new single, 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', which was released on 24th May and was an instant success. 

"It was the best thing we ever did with [producer] Jimmy Miller," said Richards later, according to Keith Richards: The Biography. "As soon as I pick up the guitar and play that riff, something happens here, in your stomach. It's one of the better feelings in the world. You just jump on the riff and it plays you. As a matter of fact, it takes you over. An explosion would be the best way to describe it. It's the one that I would immediately go to if I wanted to approach the state of nirvana."

'Jumpin' Jack Flash' quickly reached No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 3 in the States, but it didn't last long enough to keep Jones in the lineup. He appeared sparingly on the band's next two albums, 1968's Beggars Banquet and 1969's Let It Bleed, and joined them for the taping of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in December 1968, but was out of the band by mmid-1969 He was found dead a few weeks after his departure, on 3rd July, 1969 at the age of 27, thought to have drowned in his swimming pool.