There was a time when the Rolling Stones were the premiere rock band on drugs; they couldn’t even make it out of the ’60s without a member dying. When Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool in 1969, he’d just been kicked out of the Stones as his drug consumption left him unable to contribute anything of musical value to the band. Some believe he was murdered, but his autopsy noted his liver and heart were enlarged by drug and alcohol abuse and his altered state likely contributed to his drowning.
The other Stones pressed on, both musically and chemically. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had been arrested and jailed in the 1960s for drug possession, and their excess continued as they became tax exiles and launched debauched arena tours in the 1970s. Richards in particular doubled down on his drug consumption; his descriptions of this period in his 2010 book Life read like an addict’s fetishistic bragging.
Even drummer Charlie Watts, long the most stable member of the Stones, started using heroin in the mid 1980s. Bassist Bill Wyman was more into girls than drugs and Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor entered and left the band relatively sober, but his replacement, Ron Wood, was a different story. By the time he joined the Stones he was an established rock star via his time in the Faces. In his forthcoming autobiography, Faces, lead singer Rod Stewart relays a story in which Wood showed him that he’d snorted enough cocaine to create a hole in his nasal septum.
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