Stereophonics - Richard Jones

Richard Jones

The quiet man of the Stereophonics, staunch bassist Richard Jones has neither the smouldering frontman's charisma of Kelly Jones nor the larger-than-life charm of former drummer Stuart Cable.

Last updated: 29 January 2009

Born: 23 May 1974
Role: Bass

But every band needs a calm, collected player to stabilise the hot-headed livewires, and Richard is undeniably that man. Also, rather fantastically, he has his Christian name tattooed on the back of his neck - a piece of body art he claims cost him the princely sum of £1.

Like Kelly and Stuart, Richard was born in the small ex-mining town of Cwmaman just outside Cardiff. A mere 11 days older than Kelly - although definitely, for the record, no relation - the pair met in primary school, where they bonded over their mutual first love, AC/DC. "When me and Richard were eight years old," remembers Kelly, "We went to a fancy dress party dressed as Angus and Malcolm Young."

By his teens, Richard was listening to classic-sounding rock bands like Blind Melon, Stone Temple Pilots, and Neil Young - a reaction against his three older brothers, who were into punk and ska - and dreaming of a life beyond the humble blue-collar existence of a coal delivery boy. So when he first picked up a bass guitar, it was less out of a real desire to play bass, but as a pragmatic step of finding himself a place into one of Cwmaman's rock bands.

"Everyone else who was playing an instrument around our village was playing guitar," he explained. "So I thought it would be a lot easier to get into a band if I played a different instrument apart from guitar. I went down to the guitar shop to have a look around and I bought my first bass - a Precision copy, a fretless one. I just taught myself how to tune it and then tried to do a couple of Blues Brothers riffs on it."

However, Richard's place in the Stereophonics was not won solely on his skill at the low end - his conduct at the audition had a little to do with it too. "He turned up to this practice with his hair down to his waist," Stuart told Select in 1999, "And he looked ice cool. He slung this bass round his hip and just started hitching the four strings. I don't think he had a clue what he was doing but me and Kelly looked at each other and went, 'Now that's what I call a bass player'."

After long days erecting scaffolding or wiring electrics, the prospect of jumping in a van and driving to play a gig in a working man's club somewhere in the depths of the Valleys must have been exhausting. Maybe that's how Richard learnt to develop a sense of Zen.

Although he hesitates to describe himself as a devout Buddhist - because that'd mean "you can't drink, you can't smoke, no sex" - he has a keen interest in Buddhist literature, plays shows with a small wooden Buddha perched upon his amp and, hilariously, checks into hotel rooms as 'Dai Lama'.

Richard married in 2000, in his wife's hometown of Southwold in Suffolk. The pair have now settled in a house in London. In his spare time outside the Stereophonics, he races motorbikes. If the story of the Stereophonics was made into a film, he'd like to be played by Val Kilmer or Brad Pitt.

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