Without Brian Jones, The Rolling Stones would never have become the legends of rock ‘n’ roll we all recognise them as being. The late guitarist was a crucial figure in the early days of the band, but, after a while, he was no longer a dynamic driving force and became a hindrance after he succumbed like so many fabulous rockstars to drugs. However, his final track with the band is a reminder of his greatness.
Brian Jones’s role in The Rolling Stones making it into the pantheon of music can’t be understated, but his deterioration nearly tore them apart. As such, it tore his bandmates apart to witness his rapid decline as a result of the pitfalls of drug and drink dependence. The sad truth remains that he was no longer the man who had strung the band together. Jones’ reality was heartbreaking for Mick Jagger to watch — the person he was so close to was gone, and he had morphed into a shadow of his former self.
The situation left Jagger in a quandary as he could see Jones begin to lose himself shred by shred with each passing day. He tried his best to help his bandmate out with words of advice, but they were falling on deaf ears. While he wrestled with his friend embark on a downward spiral, they had no choice but to remove Jones from the group. The final track that Jones worked on with the group came on 1968’s ‘No Expectation’s’ from Beggars Banquet. This effort would be his last notable move with the band, before his exit and tragic death the following year.
Mick Jagger’s voice is wonderfully expressive and proves anybody wrong who think that he’s just a party-starting frontman. ‘No Expectations’ is a spirited performance from the bandleader who, you can tell, means every word that he is uttering in his bizarrely brilliant transatlantic twang. The band would only get the opportunity to play the track once with Brian Jones during The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which documents his last live performance.
“That’s Brian playing slide guitar,” Mick Jagger poignantly explained some years later. “We were sitting around in a circle on the floor, singing and playing, recording with open mikes. That was the last time I remember Brian really being totally involved in something that was really worth doing. He was there with everyone else. It’s funny how you remember – but that was the last moment I remember him doing that, because he had just lost interest in everything.”
Following the recording of ‘No Expectations’, tensions grew further as Jones’ behaviour managed to become even more erratic and volatile. By 1968, he had alienated himself from his bandmates, and he played his final show with the band in the December of that year at their seminal show, Rock and Roll Circus.
Bassist Bill Wyman remembered this sad period in his book Stone Alone: “There were at least two sides to Brian’s personality. One Brian was introverted, shy, sensitive, deep-thinking. The other was a preening peacock, gregarious, artistic, desperately needing assurance from his peers. He pushed every friendship to the limit and way beyond.”
Whilst Jones may have only had one opportunity to perform this track with The Stones before his sad, premature death; thankfully there is footage of this poignant occasion when they performed ‘No Expectations’ which keeps the memory of the guitarist living defiantly on.