QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
To submit a question for the author, please refer to the "Contact Us" page.
Please Note: Random initials are being used to protect questionnaire’s/reader’s identity.
1. MYK asks: when will the sequel to this book be available? Is the book completed yet or still a work in progress?
Author’s reply: the manuscript is completed; took longer than expected due to health issues. The final cover design is coming along well, and we've registered the sequel's new website. As soon as the book is available for sale, the announcement will definitely be made on this website.
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun for all if I took a few moments to answer questions received. Many relate to the same issues, and we’ll answer one question from each subject matter in as chronological order as possible.
This way, (although I will not be quoting directly from the upcoming sequel) much of the “Backstory” will be told – as the Dave Clark Five would say, in “Bits and Pieces”.
2. FM asks: How did you go about writing Brian talking in first person about his life? Very unusual, but still fun reading!
Author’s reply: Prior to taking on Brian Jones’ life story, my writing was either my own or others’ (as a ghostwriter and screenwriter).
When I was asked to write Brian’s biography and began my first draft, my instincts told me to write the biography almost entirely by using Brian’s own words and thoughts. This method brings him to life. I was able to do so by spending countless, hours, days, and months, speaking to those who really were close to Brian and knew him as well as anyone – unlike many books that give mainly biased, worn-out & one-sided opinions about him and what his actual goal in life was.
I soon learned that actually writing someone else’s life and death, especially from their POV, puts one in an entirely different realm. And I finally understood what famous actors always say when asked how they could take on the personalities of famous people they portrayed on the screen: “I had to make myself study the subject (person) I portrayed from every angle and actually become that person in order to make my presentation realistic.” For example, imagine the extraordinary performances of Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire.
The same is true, I discovered, as I had to contact other authors who also had written biographies about well-known deceased persons and done a wonderful job in interpreting the life and internal thinking and feelings of those people. For the time they were researching their subjects and then writing the actual biographies, they had to become those people! Which explains why so many well-known writers become very reclusive while working.
The more I learned about Brian Jones, from interviewing so many people who had known either him and the Rolling Stones personally, seeing copies of depositions and eyewitness testimony provided by those present during the day he was killed, and reading books/articles that were unbiased in describing Brian and what he was all about, the more I began to “lose” who I was and became totally absorbed with his thoughts and what his feeling had to have been.
And the more I wrote and the more I had to make myself take on Brian’s thoughts and feelings, the more mentally exhausted I began to feel. This, I also learned, is true of other authors who’ve taken on their subjects’ lives in written form. This is where the phrase “having a Muse in your life” comes from…I felt as if Brian’s spirit was leading and guiding me in what he had lived through and what ultimately led to his murder.
I’ve been fortunate enough to speak personally with a few people who were very close to Brian, on both a professional and personal level, who—to this day—claim they still experience feelings of his spirit reaching out to them, from time to time, and coaxing them to think or do whatever it is they are being urged to do. This is a very strange and unexpected experience.
By the time I’d finished writing and publishing the book on Brian’s life, I had to make myself go back to being “Gloria Shepherd” and not Brian Jones! This, unfortunately, took time and forced me to stop communicating—either by phone or email—with so many people who were very helpful and supportive of me while I wrote the book.
These friends, and also people who learned I had authored a new book on the Rolling Stones—together with Press and Media who somehow got my phone number—would continually contact me, hounding me for information on how I learned about what Brian thought or said about this or that. I knew they were mainly well intentioned, but I had to sometimes not so nicely tell them that I didn’t ever want to talk about the Brian Jones story again. It had taken away so much of who I really am.
Coincidentally, this is exactly what Brian had gone through after the Rolling Stones became world famous. At first it seemed fun, but then he realized all the attention and stress wasn’t what he wanted from life at all. He was much happier when he originally played and entertained in small clubs and venues—and could interact with his fans on a one-to-one basis.
Since he suffered since childhood from assorted ailments and family abuse, he was very susceptible to bouts of depression and physical illnesses – especially from constantly being under the scrutiny of the entire world. Back in the Sixties, people (including psychologists) didn’t really understand what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is all about. Brian knew something was “wrong” with his getting panic attacks, but had no one to explain to him why he was feeling that way – unlike his other band members, who took all the attention in stride. Of course, Brian was the Stone receiving the most adoration and idolization from the fans—both male and female.
When you read my “Book Excerpt” on this website, you’ll see some of what I’m talking about Brian’s inability to deal with serious stress and threats, especially from those he had considered trustworthy friends and had entrusted with his innermost feelings.
I’d like to mention that the scene that took place in the excerpt, entitled “Confrontation at Cotchford” (which was Brian’s home and where he was killed) was not in any way made up by me – but has been memorialized since its occurrence by both those who were present in the home and spoken of by certain Rolling Stones members thereafter. I simply chose to tell it from Brian’s vantage point.
3. LR asks: How did singer/entertainer Donovan and his wife get to promote your book? Do you know Donovan?
Author replies: I’ve known Donovan and his wife, Linda Lawrence Leitch, since soon after my book was published. We got connected through Linda’s son, Julian Jones—who happens to be Brian Jones’ son.
After awhile, Linda and I began swapping stories about Brian over the phone and realized we share very similar experiences. I didn’t know this at the time I wrote my book (or I definitely would have included this fact) but Brian is the one who originally “discovered” Donovan and thought he had great talent. Brian—who helped so many newcomers get accepted into the now-legendary British Invasion of the Sixties—made sure Donovan got introduced to the right people, and Donovan soon got his first big breaks.
Brian’s instinct telling him that Donovan was definitely an artist who deserved attention was proven right recently, as Donovan was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame last year! In his acceptance speech, Donovan read a poem he wrote, in which he thanked the “Muses” who’s assisted him. Does this sound familiar?
When Donovan and Linda eventually married, he adopted Brian’s son as his own; however, Julian kept his father’s last name of Jones. According to the couple, Julian plays guitar almost as well as his dad, and now Julian’s son—who’s a teenager—is picking up the family tradition of being a great entertainer on his own, too.
Donovan and Linda both agree that my interpretation of Brian’s personality in the book is spot on and “powerful”, and that’s why our communication has continued. It’s great that at Donovan’s concerts, he often talks about my book and encourages others to read it. He once phoned me from his home in Ireland, when he was about to come to America to do a concert in California, and offered to fly both my husband and me out to spend the weekend at the hotel with them and attend the concert, at their expense.
Unfortunately, the call came too late for us to accept this wonderful offer, as we had other plans that couldn’t be changed for that time.
They’re a classy couple, and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity of knowing them.
4. VC asks: Are Robbie Thomas’ quotes (voice) being used as Brian’s in your book, like I’ve seen said in some chat rooms?
Author’s reply: Heck, NO! That is laughable. The only writing Robbie “contributed” to my book (and I use that term loosely) is the second Foreword. All one has to do is read Robbie’s Foreword, examine his style of writing, and then read a few of the quotes I use in my book as coming from Brian Jones’ POV. You’ll easily see there is no comparison whatsoever.
I didn’t know who in the world Robbie Thomas was until HE phoned me one day (I don’t know who gave him my name or phone number). He told me that he’s helped police authorities in several countries and several of the states in the U.S. solve recent kidnappings and murders and added that HE wanted, very much, to help me sort out what had happened to Brian.
I immediately knew he would not be of much, if any, use to me when he at first said Brian wasn’t murdered! Ha! It took me several minutes of my giving him examples to prove the murder when he finally and reluctantly admitted that, yes, Brian Jones was murdered.
I have three, short audiotapes of the conversations that took place between Robbie and me, and if they are ever released (for whatever reason) that’ll also make it obvious that none of Robbie’s words were used in my book. Like anyone doing research for a term paper, thesis, or other non-fiction work, the writer always uses audiotapes for reference afterwards. And I have all the audiotapes of anyone I ever spoke with (either in person or over the phone) in order to put Brian’s life in a cohesive pattern. This includes conversations I had with certain personal bodyguards that the Rolling Stones used over the years.
Robbie tried so hard to help me that I did allow him to write the second Foreword (as mentioned) but that is because back then I was still too polite to hurt anyone’s feelings who seemed to be honestly wanting to help. On the other hand, I did agree to speak on Robbie’s radio show for a few minutes. As soon as I realized he was attempting to attribute this and that to himself, I cut off the interviews. Unfortunately, those were broadcast “live” and the damage was already done.
Later on I began to see where Robbie - on his website, on some of his future radio shows and live conferences – began to pat himself on the back and say how he’d contributed so much to my book. I was shocked when I saw these rumors coming out and then all those -- who had their own personal agenda to disparage my book -- used Robbie’s words to further their own causes.
I am disappointed that Robbie has never actually emphasized that he contributed no quotes at all to my writing – but I now realize that he is a “legend in his own mind”.
Enough said on that subject!
5. A Personal Note to Bill Wyman: If it weren’t for Bill’s wonderfully-written book, Stone Alone, my being able to write Brian Jones Straight from the Heart would have been nearly impossible.
He literally kept a journal of the Rolling Stones history, from its inception, and is the ONLY member of the Stones to come out publicly and say what’s needed to be said all along: that without Brian Jones there would be no Rolling Stones.
Bill can be proud of himself for having the courage and heart to be the one who stands as the “Stone Alone”.
And I once again wish to thank him and his son for allowing me to use the photograph of Brian, as a child, for my book.
6. JA asks: Where did you get the information about Brian’s mother sexually abusing him when he was young?
Author’s Reply: I am fully aware that most detractors of my book have never read it at all! Some may have begun the story of Brian’s childhood and then decided when they arrived – very early on in the book – that they didn’t want to read further. Word soon spread to those who never laid eyes on my book at all, but took the word of so-called friends who started the whispering campaign that my story was based (some say) “on my own life.” Ridiculous!
I have written documentation (copied below) directly from my book that documents psychiatrist’s testimony given at Brian Jones’ drug-bust trial towards the end of his life. If you all took the time to read my book through to the end, you’d see all that I’d written earlier has been documented.
When one is writing someone else’s life, it must be done in chronological order. So I couldn’t, naturally, place this court testimony at the beginning where I first mention the sexual abuse.
I have two examples below of proof that I received of this sexual abuse. The first is from the psychiatrist’s testimony at Brian’s trial. This one is directly from my book. I only removed extraneous words or sentences that aren’t relevant. For the complete wording, look it up in my book:
a) “…This example of how easily his (Brian’s) mental and emotional state could deteriorate confirmed the doctors’ testimonies at his trial and sentencing. One psychiatrist in particular, Walter Neustatter, played a major role in diagnosing part of Brian’s problems. He stated what no one had said before, including Brian—that Brian had an abnormal fear of phallic objects being used against him and a fear of close sexual intimacy with women in general. He went on to say that Brian’s natural passivity fueled his fear of sexual attack and sadism.
“His patient, he said, alternated mass confusion between being childlike when it came to what’s considered normal heterosexual activity and then having to live up to his image of a pop idol and sexual stud.
“Had the prospect of spending months in jail not been so dire for him, Brian would never have allowed Dr. Neustatter’s testimony to be given publicly. This was very humiliating for him, naturally, but he needed as strong testimony as possible to free him from imprisonment. Then again, the doctor’s assessment confirmed the secret that Brian had tried to hide his entire life—that as a child, his mum and others had assaulted him and at times used objects to hurt him. No wonder he had never successfully maintained a relationship with a woman.
“…the year and a half relationship he had with Anita Pallenberg lasted as long as it did because she reminded him so much of his mother. She, too, caused physical pain and degradation to his manhood. Often the only way Brian was able to feel comfortable with a female was to feel physical pain and agony during sex, together with a degree of humiliation and bondage. That type of relationship made him feel close to the female hurting him and brought feelings of once again having a mother figure in his life.”
b) The very fist indication I had about Brian’s being victimized in this manner as a child came directly from assorted phone calls between Gerry Seda (now sadly deceased) the moderator of the LARS (Like a Rolling Stone) website and myself.
Trevor Hobley, British so-called investigator and maintainer of the Brian Jones Fan Club website, first introduced me – by phone – to Gerry Seda at the very start of my beginning to research the truth behind Brian’s death.
Gerry and I spoke for a few hours by phone at various times and she repeatedly said - over and over – that she’d had “many visions” of Brian’s mum sexually abusing him with various objects, while he was still a toddler. I told her I really couldn’t believe it and told Gerry so. She became angry with me and said that I shouldn’t bother her then if I wasn’t open to taking her word for what she was saying.
I had to do the research myself into this and that’s how I finally came across the direct testimony of Dr. Neustatter that is copied above. What I quoted in my book from the trial is only a small portion of testimony provided by many other psychiatrists/psychologists as to Brian’s early sexual history.
7. RW asks: Is Gloria Shepherd your real name?
Author’s Reply: Yes, definitely. Shepherd is my original maiden name (on my father’s side) which has been translated into English from its original Southern European origins. As a matter of fact, my husband recently bought me a family Coat of Arms depicting my European maiden name that showed a lamb, followed by the English translation “Shepherd.”
I first used my name of Shepherd professionally during the mid-1960-s while managing an all-male R&B rock band.
8. ZYX asks: if your book is supposedly non-fiction, then why at the opening lines do you say “this book is for entertainment purposes only?”
Author’s reply: The simplest answer is – legal reasons.
9. KWO asks: Where did you get all that info on Brian Jones life while he was homeless between the ages of 16 through almost 18?
Author’s reply: I’m not surprised you’re curious. I first recall seeing a definite reference to Brian’s life at this time by reading Laura Jackson’s first book and Mandy Aftel’s book about Brian. At the same time, I read Bill Wyman’s Stone Alone. Either one of the ladies mentioned (and possibly even Wyman) definitely referred to Brian’s “horrible” experience while homeless. However, they all so carefully left out any details they had discovered.
Which meant that I had to do some investigating as to what that horrible time meant. Luckily a couple of the women who were closest to Brian, after his return to England, spoke with me by phone and/or email, and each provided me with particular details as to what he had confided to them. Their stories had different details about various periods of that almost 2-year sojourn while Brian literally lived on the streets of both England and the Continent.
I also learned he had spoken to close male friends about this time, and was fortunate enough to locate at least one of them.
I had to imagine that Brian didn’t care to talk about all his experiences at one time – as this period of his life was so hard on him in many ways. So I had to piece together in some form of chronological order what all had taken place. As a ghostwriter this is all a comfortable zone for me, since many of my clients usually give me their vision or idea for a story, and it’s then my job to make it into a cohesive storyline.
Of course, as discussed in my book on Brian Jones Straight from the Heart, it was during this time (at around age 17) that he met the lady who eventually gave birth to his only daughter; the rest of his offspring being male.
10. QHP asks: What makes Gloria Shepherd an award-winning screenwriter?
Author’s reply: I was hired by a long time independent film director/creator from New York City to assist him in turning his concept for a crime-based storyline into a cohesive screenplay. I worked together with 2 other writers who added their input as to what I’d finally created after working with the director by phone for several weeks.
The director contacted (while the film was already in production) two vice presidents from Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment. These gentlemen were so enthused with the film’s storyline that they loaned us one of their top entertainers at the time – Craig Mack – to both sing and take part in a several minute segment.
My husband and I were also the Associate Producers of the movie, which won the Best Picture award at the 2003 Long Island International Film Expo. I have a photo of the movie’s Executive Producer and me, in which I am seen holding the statue for the Best Picture award for Independent Films. This photo was taken at the Awards Ceremony, at which the representatives from Bad Boy Entertainment were also present.
We were present for a majority of the filming and met a number of well-known actors both during the filming and at the awards gala. The actual filming took place at various locations, including the Hamptons, N.Y. and SUNY (Stony Brook University of New York).