Paul Trynka’s Brian Jones bio reveals the forgotten Rolling Stone

book cover - brian jonesHow can a book be so rewarding, and yet so oddly frustrating? Paul Trynka's new book for Viking, an autobiography entitled Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones, manages to go deep and still end up feeling like a gloss. Brian Jones is, obviously, about the guitarist who founded the Rolling Stones, and whose death ultimately overshadowed his early contributions to what is arguably one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time. Trynka's book attempts to uncover hidden aspects of Jones' life story, and to make his musical talents and skills as important to his story as his drowning in a swimming pool has become. Much is made of Jones' charisma and how he originally outshined the Glimmer Twins, Mick and Keith, of whom so much would ultimately be made. Reading the book, one ultimately wonders how Jones' musical contributions and early influence have been so thoroughly whitewashed. Trynka makes a good point regarding history being written by the victors, but fails to follow up on an even more interesting point: the Rolling Stones, after Jones left, essentially dried up musically. I would've loved to have seen the book fleshed out with more in-studio descriptions. While most books overdo the production aspect of things, Brian Jones focuses almost too much on Jones' personal life. For a book subtitled "The Making of the Rolling Stones," one would expect more on how his musical contributions shaped the group, and what his absence meant. A statement that Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. were the Stones coasting on the fumes from Jones' influence needs a lot more to back it up. Other things that make this well-written book seem strange: I appreciate the interviews Trynka conducted, but it appears the author's attempted to avoid using too many prior sources. It makes this a wholly-original work, but means that one reads 350 pages about Brian Jones without ever really reading anything in Jones' own words. There's the occasional quote from an interview, but for the post part, Jones is spoken of by others. It's odd, but not as weird as Trynka's habit of discussing the construction of songs without ever naming the song outright. It's clever, because you can puzzle it out, but for those of us not familiar with the entirety of British rock 'n' roll, having to pull up Wikipedia to suss out the name of a Beatles b-side (obvious though it may be) is downright irritating. In the end, Paul Trynka's Brian Jones is an intriguing read, and one that opens up the Rolling Stone guitarist and founder's life to be so much more than his death. The way in which he's depicted as a genius who isn't exactly the best person is refreshingly realistic, and I found myself listening more closely to those early Stones albums to see where his influence could be felt.