How does it feel? To be on your own … Just like a Rolling Stone …
This is what should have been asked to Mr. Darryl Jones upon our chance encounter at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Who thinks of clever questions when a man who earned some of his chops playing with Miles Davis exits an elevator?
I have been privaleged enough to be able to speak to famous people without stuttering like a drunken fool. Those people were not part of arguably the greatest rock band in history. Those people do not receive phone calls from Mick Jagger.
” You are Darryl Jones …!”
These words repeatedly smacked the soon to be iconic bass player no fewer than five times in the first five seconds following an introductory handshake.
” Yes I am!” Replied the man who has shared a beer with Keith Richards. Luckily, laughter accompagnied his words and not annoyance.
” So what’s up with the Stones?” I asked as if I alone were privvy to this knowledge.
Jones smiled like a cat with a canary firmly entrenched in his throat. “I would love to tell you what I know.” He replied. ” Unfortunately – I am sworn to secrecy.”
‘All privacy and no secrecy’ I thought, quoting lyrics from the 1975 Stones’ song ‘Fingerprint File’ in my mind. I knew quickly the man was not going to divulge anything. I tried anyway …
Darryl Jones was born in 1961.
Six months previous to Brian Jones forming a band by the name of the Rolling Stones. Brian named his band after the Muddy Waters’ song; Rollin’ Stone. Mr. Darryl Jones was born in Chicago – the home of the blues. A place where Chess Studios became the meeting and recording ‘ place to be’ in the fifties for guys like Muddy Waters.
Like Brian – the first instrument Darryl Jones began playing was the guitar before a neighbor convinced him to try bass.
Two men named Jones. Two men with a connection to the blues in Chicago. One started Britain’s greatest blues- based band; the other will be an ‘unofficial’ member when it ends. An ironic twist to a musical life which began because of Miles Davis’ nephew …
Darryl, the bass player, befriended Miles Davis’ nephew; Vince Milburn Jr, while the pair were attending Southern Illinois University Carbondale. When Miles himself was looking for a bass player, Darryl auditioned with a raving recommendation from Vince. That tenure as Davis’ bassist, led to a recommendation from Charlie Watts, the Stones’ drummer, when the Stones had to replace original bassist Bill Wyman.
Charlie Watts’ roots are embedded in Jazz music and the connection between the Stones’ drummer and Jones was enough to satisfy Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
” This is a situation that’s about everybody having fun making music. The Stones have opened their arms and tried to make a place for me, so it’s been really cool.”
Jones’ resume leading to the gig with the Stones is impressive.
Sting, Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Herbie Hancock are some of the folk the fifty year old bass player has provided a strong foundation for. It was while working on Sting’s album ‘Bring on the Night’ – Jones met Jagger and later on; Keith Richards. The Stones’ guitarist was working on his solo album ‘ Talk is Cheap’.
“My first thought was that if Keith’s gig became available, I’d be into trying out. It didn’t, but when Bill Wyman left, I thought, why not the Rolling Stones?”
Why not indeed?
Jones auditioned playing time- tested songs such as ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘ Start Me Up’. The Stones were impressed enough to invite the boy from SouthSide Chicago to play on the recording of 1994’s Voodoo Lounge. Upon Watts’ urging- Jones joined the band for the subsequent tour. A tour which led to Jones having to learn 250 songs and witnessing something for the first time.
” During the show, I found myself watching the jumbotron quite a lot. I had never seen them live – I wanted to watch the show!”
Jones is a salaried employer of the Stones. A position which allows him freedom to pursue different projects. Tasks such as a tribute to his mentor Miles Davis. Jones was in Montreal as part of the Jazz Festival. ‘Miles Smiles’ is something which is dear to his heart and allows him to play with jazz drummer ( and friend ) Omar Hakim.
Hakim followed much the same route as Darryl. Madonna, Sting along with Bryan Ferry, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie being the names on Omar’s resume.
Darryl Jones ‘ father was a drummer. Charlie Watts’ love of Jazz was the reason Jones has been a part of Brian Jones ‘ group for eighteen years. A band which is celebrating it’s fiftieth anniversary now or next year …?
“There is a tour coming up.” Says Jones. ” A few gigs will be stationary. Like ten shows in New York – that type of thing. A new album is coming and that is about as much as I can say. There are quite a few surprises and I will be surprised by many of them myself …!”
Darryl Jones is like a Rolling Stone.