By the end of the 1960s, it was well known that Brian Jones was losing popularity. Jones started to lose interest in The Rolling Stones after contributing to the formation of one of the most well-known bands in the world. Jones later left (or was fired from) the band due to differences in musical taste, unpredictable behavior, drug usage, and snatching women. However, Jones frequently displayed a lack of interest in whatever the band was working on in the studio as early as 1967.
In his biography You Can’t Always Get What You Want, former road manager Sam Cutler explains, “The only time I ever saw Brian Jones in a studio, he resembled a catatonic patient in a psychiatric ward and was studiously ignored by everyone. The police were constantly harassing and busting him at every opportunity. It was certainly no fun being Brian Jones.”
Producer Jimmy Miller also told Rolling Stone in 1997, “When he would show up at a session—let’s say he had just bought a sitar that day, he’d feel like playing it, so he’d look in his calendar to see if the Stones were in. Now he may have missed the previous four sessions. We’d be doing let’s say, a blues thing. He’d walk in with a sitar, which was totally irrelevant to what we were doing, and want to play it.”
He added, “I used to try to accommodate him. I would isolate him, put him in a booth and not record him onto any track that we really needed. And the others, particularly Mick and Keith, would often say to me, ‘Just tell him to piss off and get the hell out of here’.”
Jones had already vanished into the background by the time Beggars Banquet, from 1968, had been put into production. Nearly all of the guitar parts on the album were performed by Keith Richards, with occasional Mellotron, sitar, and harmonica contributions from Jones. His slide guitar part for “No Expectations” was one of the few exceptions, as Jagger subsequently recounted.
While talking with Rolling Stone in 1995, Jagger told, “That’s Brian playing [the slide guitar]. 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.”
Jones did not, however, make an appearance on a Rolling Stones record for the last time. By 1969, Mick Taylor had started to progressively replace Jones in the group and had contributed lead guitar to the hit “Honky Tonk Women.” In order to add guitar to the acoustic versions of “Honky Tonk Women,” “Country Honk,” and “Live With Me,” Taylor was invited to the recording sessions for Let It Bleed. Jones had already passed away for four months by the time Let It Bleed was published in November of 1969.
Jones only made two contributions to Let It Bleed during his sporadic studio appearances: the congas on “Midnight Rambler” and a barely heard autoharp part in “You Got The Silver.” The latter would be his final contribution to a Rolling Stones record and was appropriate given his current standing in the group—basically nonexistent.