In this post I’m going to highlight some unsavory history about the founding of The Rolling Stones. As many people already suspect, this band was almost certainly a creation of the Anglo-American ‘intelligence community’. I believe that The Rolling Stones were created in response to the failure of earlier ‘non-communist left’ undertakings such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which by 1962 had been ‘outed’. Our story begins in the Cotswold hills…
In 1942 a boy was born in Cheltenham, England to a well-off musical family. The boy was named Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones. The Jones’ hailed from Wales but moved to the small spa town to further Brian’s father’s career as an aeronautical engineer.
Cheltenham is famous for its literary festival, race track and being home to the disgraced British spying organ ‘GCHQ’ which, these days, does the NSA’s dirty work. GCHQ moved to Cheltenham in 1951, about nine years after the Jones’ moved there. How might an aeronautical engineer have been employed in Cheltenham circa 1942?
The Brits are cagey about defense industry information, but Cheltenham was home to at least two crucial Royal Air Force contractors: the Dowty Group which started in the 1930s and was famous for its work on the Concord jet; and Smiths Industries which produced instruments crucial to RAF Bomber Command. These factories were important enough to have attracted German bombers in December 1940. Both firms are now owned by General Electric. More likely than not, Brian Jones’ dad was building aeronautic equipment for the war effort and then rode the Cold War armaments boom to retirement.
Cheltenham has more going for it than just RAF contractors and spooks, however. Cheltenham is a very desirable retirement location for military brass and moneyed foreign service types, and has been for a while. Cheltenham is the home of an elite, well-connected defense community which makes what happened to Brian Jones even more interesting.
From the age of 16 onward, Brian Jones had a habit of impregnating very young girls and then eschewing all personal responsibility for the resulting babies. (He would have six illegitimate children this way.) Brian Jones’ reputation in Cheltenham was so bad that when the local Arts college heard about it, they withdrew a scholarship which had been awarded to Jones. My point is that Brian disgraced himself publicly and repeatedly in front of the grandfathers of Britain’s intelligence establishment.
That’s not to say everything about Brian’s rep was bad: people knew his dad moonlighted as a church organist and that Brian was musically gifted. In fact, the heights from which Brian fell probably increased his disgrace. Jones was clearly a young man with an unusual psychological profile, he may even have been described as ‘narcissistic‘.
By 1962 Brian had established himself as a cad and blues musician in Cheltenham, and it wasn’t long before he was invited to play as a guest with Alexis Korner’s “Blues Incorporated” band in London. Korner was a U.K. transplant by way of Paris, Switzerland, and North Africa; his cosmopolitan parents moved to London in 1940, just in time for the war effort. Alexis Korner has been dubbed ‘a father of British Blues’.
During Jones’ guest appearance with Blues Incorporated, Brian was introduced to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards by Korner, who took special interest in Jagger and Richards even though at that time neither had played music outside their parents’ living rooms. As a recap, Korner brought in a troubled guitar player all the way from Cheltenham for a short-term gig where he could meet two teenagers with no professional musical experience. A ‘father of British Blues’ must have a lot of free time!
This is what rock historian Seth Rogovoy writes about Korner in Forward magazine:
Like many early British rock bands, The Rolling Stones started out playing American blues. Most of the members of the Stones served their apprenticeship in Blues Incorporated, a band led by blues guitarist Alexis Korner, who was born in Paris to an Austrian Jewish father and a Turkish-Greek mother. Stones founding guitarist Brian Jones, drummer Charlie Watts, and keyboardist Ian Stewart all played with Blues Incorporated, and vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards jammed with the group on a number of occasions, before the five joined forces and formed The Rolling Stones.
In fact, Korner’s influence went well beyond the Stones and as Rolling Stone magazine states, Korner “virtually gave birth to an entire generation of superstars and cult heroes” which included Rod Stewart, John Mayall and Jimmy Page (as in Aleister Crowley). A sort of Frank Zappa for the Brits, Korner helped launch Led Zeppelin and Cream. Not long after introducing all the Stones, Korner embarked on a television career with ITV, the television channel launched by the British government in 1955 to ‘compete’ with their BBC. (Government competes with government?!) The Rolling Stones would take up gigs that Blues Incorporated cancelled due to Korner’s budding broadcasting career– a career which made him a brahmin of the British music scene.
Yet, rock’n’roll sensations are not formed on human resources alone…
In mid-1963 a promoter named Andrew Loog Oldham read about The Rolling Stones in a newspaper and jockeyed to become their manager– so goes the story. Oldham was the illegitimate son of Celia Oldham and American Andrew Loog, a member of the 332nd Bombardier Squadron who was shot down before he ever saw his son. Celia, to whom “image was everything“, was kept by a married man who funded her lifestyle– I have yet to pin down who this sugar-daddy was. As one might expect, Andrew grew up to be a very angry young man who is often described with references to the Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. (In a fit of rage Oldham once pointed a starting pistol at the head of his father in law.)
Andrew’s mom must have latched on to a well-connected man, because according to Rockhall.com, “While still in his teens, Oldham was featured in the fashion pages of both The London Evening Standard and The Daily Mail.”
Andrew flitted between a few high-profile jobs: he was a personal assistant to fashion icon Mary Quant, and then became a protegé of music industry tycoons Brian Epstein AND murderer Phil Spector. Before he even hit twenty, Oldham had serious pull in the publishing world: “In January 1963, at 19, he started doing PR for the Beatles, and within a few weeks had scored the coup of getting the Fab Four into Vogue.” This is how Seth Rogovoy describes Andrew Loog Oldham’s contribution to the Stones:
Building on the lessons he learned as a protégé of Brian Epstein — the Jewish owner of a record store in Liverpool, who turned that city’s most popular bar band into the international sensation known as The Beatles — Andrew Loog Oldham, also Jewish, soon took over management of The Rolling Stones, reshaped their image, and steered them toward a broader musical palette.
For one, he turned them into the anti-Beatles, giving them a more “dangerous” and rebellious image — longer and unkempt hair, and an overt sense of sexuality and violence. Oldham enlisted the services of photographer Gered Mankowitz — the son of English Jewish screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz — who was responsible for the band’s early album covers and publicity shots. Mankowitz was as responsible as Oldham was for creating the Stones’s bad-boy image, and he was the official tour photographer on the band’s first United States tour in 1965.
Oldham also encouraged The Rolling Stones to cover a wider range of songs than the Chicago blues that they originally favored.
This ‘style change’ is credited as the beginning of conflicts which would eventually drive Brian Jones from the band (after a huge monetary payoff). Jones was found dead in his pool not long after being dropped and no Stone had time for his funeral– but I get ahead of myself.
Andrew Loog Oldham also managed Marianne Faithfull, who would become a staple of the cult around Mick Jagger. Oldham’s contacts worked well for him: “By the age of 21 he was married to Sheila Klein, daughter of a Hampstead psychoanalyst, had a son and a dog named Genius, owned a £40,000 house, many cars and was officially a millionaire.”
Oldham’s management style was heavy on buzz, but light on organization as he admits himself. He also had an odd habit of buying advertizing space for other, supposedly unrelated, promoters:
While piloting the good ship Immediate [Oldham’s firm] and producing Stones hits such as “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Paint It Black,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Lady Jane,” and “Ruby Tuesday,” the ever idiosyncratic Oldham messed with people’s minds by taking out ads for records he had nothing to do with. These were records he simply liked, including the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreaming.”
Andrew Oldham was not the type of person to do favors for anyone; he describes himself as an exploiter. What sort of connection might Oldham have with The Mamas and The Papas, a rock band belonging to the infamous ‘Laurel Canyon’ set in California?
For readers new to California’s music scene, the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles was home to a striking number of famous music groups, including The Doors, The Mamas and The Papas, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Love and the enigmatic icon Frank Zappa. Laurel Canyon also attracted a different brand of freak, such as the Manson Family, who were tight with the hippie music crowd.
Andrew Loog Oldham’s run with the Stones ended because of the staged drug-bust I documented in my previous post, though it’s unclear whether Andrew was actually present at the raid. According to Rockhall.com:
Oldham’s empire collapsed nearly as quickly as it developed. In early 1967, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones were all busted on drug charges. Afraid of being arrested himself, Oldham decamped to California, where he helped Lou Adler and John Phillips with Monterey Pop, suggesting they book Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, and the Who. Meanwhile, the Stones felt abandoned by Oldham, while Allen Klein found them lawyers and stood by their side in court. By September 1967, Oldham was no longer managing the group. Immediate Records continued for another couple of years, but the company was unable to transfer the label’s U.K. success to North America and was bankrupt by 1970.
It seems odd to me that the Stones’ media man would run to California just as the Stones’ biggest media bonanza exploded onto the public’s consciousness: the squabbling between The News of the World and The Times over this drug-bust made the Stones. On top of that, Oldham’s behavior suggests that he had ties to David ‘Acid King’ Snyderman, the drug-dealer with a kaleidoscope of passports who came from California with his “White Lightening”. By running to California, Oldham ran to the source of the ‘problem’.
In order to escape the British police Oldham ran to the up-and-coming music scene in California, the homeland of at least one band whose records Oldham had mysteriously taken out ads for. Why would a British subject think he was safe from a U.K. drug charge in California? During better days, Oldham had paid good money to promote Laurel Canyon superstars The Mamas and The Papas for no clear reason; perhaps Oldham ran to Cali because he had friends amongst the strange community surrounding Laurel Canyon’s local military outpost: Lookout Mountain Air Force Station– a military installation with “soundstages, screening rooms, film-processing labs and even an animation department“. [Lookout Mountain Station was founded in 1947, the same year as– yawn– the CIA. Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, and Ronald Reagan also worked for the film studios there but why is still classified. If you’re interested in Disney’s manipulation at the hands of FDR, check out Walt and El Grupo.]
Los Angeles was not unknown in Oldham’s circles: Alexis Korner crony John Mayall found professional succour in Laurel Canyon; and we now know that Marianne Faithfull’s old flame Jean de Breteuil sold Jim Morrison the dope that killed him. London rockers and Laurel Canyon navy brats clearly ran in the same circles. Could there have been some sort of organizational connection between the new music scene in London and the just-developing music scene in California?
Whatever connections existed between these two cultural phenomenon, Oldham wasn’t able to sell Californians his remaining UK contacts– namely his former partner Pete Meaden’s client The Who. The teat seems to have been pulled from the wunderkind’s mouth in California: Oldham’s company went bankrupt and he spent the next few years battling drug addictions and obscurity. Great Users of People. Oldham now lives in Bogotá, Columbia with a different wife and writes a new autobiography every few years.
When Oldham went on the lam, management of the Rolling Stones was taken up by someone called Allen Klein:
In 1966, Oldham turned over management of the Rolling Stones to a Jewish accountant from New York named Allen Klein. Klein scored the group a monumentally profitable record deal when their contract with Decca Records came due for renegotiation. The deal was much more lucrative than the one Brian Epstein had negotiated for the Beatles, and after Epstein died in 1967, the Beatles turned to Klein in the hopes that he could do for them what he had done for the Stones.
Once their original springboards Brian Jones and Andrew Loog Oldham had been discarded, The Rolling Stones’ star continued to rise. Mick Jagger decided that he should get into politics, as Tony Sanchez writes:
Mick’s fascination with power, coupled with his conventional middle class upbringing, led him inevitably to conventional politics, and for many years, he harboured a deep and secret ambition to become a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party.
He [Mick Jagger] was actively encouraged by Tom Driberg, the MP for Barking, in Essex, who later became Lord Bradwell. Like many homosexuals, Driberg found Jagger attractive, but he also recognised in him the charisma necessary for success in politics…
The two [Jagger and Driberg] were introduced by the American poet Allen Ginsberg, who was a mutual friend.”
Ginsberg introduced the two men in 1969, about the time that Kenneth Anger was pumping his cult through Pallenberg and Faithfull. Readers will remember that Allen Ginsberg was the guy who handed Alfred McCoy a box of TIME/CIA notes on East Asian drug trafficking which became The Politics of Heroin, a dishonest book which obscures William Egan Colby’s role in the drug trade. (Ginsberg tipped off McCoy around 1973, a few years after he introduced drug-promoter Jagger to Driberg.)
A couple of months ago I wrote about Eleanor Roosevelt’s political conditioning by Louis Howe in Eleanor and ISIS. Driberg seems to have played ‘Louis Howe’ to Jagger’s ‘Eleanor':
When Mick and Marianne moved to their big house in Cheyne Walk, they often entertained Driberg and had long talks about England’s rotten Government. Jagger professed to be an anarchist, but Driberg said that anarchy was no solution; it was an ideal that wouldn’t be practical for centuries. Driberg wanted Jagger to join the Labour Party and become a left-wing activists who would grab the party and shake it by the neck…
But Jagger knew that he would have to give up his career on the off chance that he might have a talent for politics. He seemed afraid to take the risk, and realistically, he knew perfectly well that despite his following among the young, he’d alienated the majority of voters.
Although he continued to talk to Driberg about politics in the abstract, he always found an excuse for not actually joining the Labour Party and standing for his local council.
I doubt that Driberg a.k.a Lord Bradwell wanted Jagger to join the Labour Party, he was astute enough to know that Jagger would never fly. What I think is more likely is that Driberg wanted to tweak Jagger’s nutball politics to better fit the ‘non-communist left’ agenda that was so popular at the CIA and MI6. (In 1966 even The New York Times began to talk about the CIA’s connection to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, so the operation was well and truly lost. By 1969 the ‘intelligence community’ would have been well into setting up new mouthpieces.)
If you’d like to learn more about the CIA’s ‘non-communist left’ agenda, I suggest going straight to the horse’s mouth, and reading what CIA head William Egan Colby had to say about what his old OSS buddies were doing in Europe.
Did Jagger and the Stones’ politics fit a ‘non-communist left agenda’? Yes, according to information Sanchez provides:
Everywhere the Stones went they were searched, raided and intimidated with a zeal that prompted Keith to comment: “They seem to think we’re working for Che Guevara.”
Jagger called a press conference to reveal to reporters in Paris that he was on the Customs’ International Red List.
“Of course there is a list, ” he said. “And of course they are after me…”
However, when the Rolling Stones came to play their first concert “behind the Iron Curtain” in Warsaw, they refused to play for the children of Communist Party members out of contempt for their parents, which of course lead to a riot.
Frankly, I’m getting a little sick of writing about the Stones and adjacent personalities, because they’re obviously tools of the ‘intelligence community’ and therefore have never had anything genuine to say. As someone who was born far too late to feel any connection to 1960s culture, these people are curious, hypocritical relics– yet they are constantly paraded in the mainstream media as innovators and idols. Clearly it’s time for some real iconoclasm.