Four years before they were exiled on Main Street The Rolling Stones, facing mounting legal troubles back in England, embarked on a fateful trip to Morocco which would forever change the course of the fledgling band. It was February of ’67 and the English press was having a field day with the Stones in the wake of a widely publicized raid at Richard’s Redlands estate which left both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards facing serious drug charges that jeopardized the future of the band. With their homeland as unfriendly as ever their handlers urged the bruised group to get the hell out of London. Morocco, an ever popular escape for Westerners, was foreign and fashionable enough for the five fresh-faced musicians, and so they set out for North Africa.
Brian Jones, the group’s original frontman and founder, had been to Morocco before and was already familiar with the country’s famous assortment of markets, music, and most importantly drugs, but before the trip really even began he grew ill. The original plan had been for Jones, his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, and Richards to be driven through France and Spain to meet up with Jagger in Morocco, but once Jones became sick he was forced to stay behind in Toulouse, France. Pallenberg and Richards forged ahead though, and with Jones temporarily out of the picture the two fell right into each others arms, starting a relationship that would last for the next twelve years.
Jones, left behind in Toulouse, was forced to spend his twenty-fifth birthday sick and alone, which only fueled his growing rage about the band’s direction and his relationship with Pallenberg. The following day he called her back to his side, and despite the fact that Pallenberg did return to him, Jones immediately sensed that something had occurred between her and Richards. After recovering for a few days, Jones, Pallenberg, and Jagger’s girlfriend Marianne Faithful, resumed their trip to Morocco, flying to Madrid to link up with Richards and Jagger.
When the travelers finally reached Marrakech, the situation only began to deteriorate further. While the rest of the Stones tried to decompress and take in the Moroccan atmosphere (they even linked up with the legendary Cecil Beaton who shot their portraits poolside) Jones fell further into his own mania and drug use. High on LSD and kif, a local blend of marijuana and tobacco, Jones confronted Pallenberg, who bitterly admitted her feelings for Richards, sending Jones into a full blown meltdown. From there, Pallenberg moved in with Richards while the grieving Jones spent the rest of the trip in a hallucinogenic haze while seeking out local musicians to record.
The Stones had finally had enough of Jones’ shenanigans though, and in a swift move they disappeared without even warning Jones of their departure. Abandoned by his former girlfriend and his band, Jones would return to England by himself shortly thereafter, (once he was sober enough to function that is) but the damage had been done and the Stones’ would never be the same again. The trip to Morocco had been organized as a last ditch effort to save the young band, and while it clearly succeeded at that, the Stones’ lived on at the expense of Jones. In June of ’69 with the wounds of Marrakesh still wide open, Jones was replaced by Mick Taylor and he drowned to death at his home in Sussex just a month later.