It was 30 years ago today. Reverend Jim Jones taught the band to play. All 900 plus of them. And play they did.
November 18, 1978 was the day of the Jonestown Massacre in beautiful, sunny Guyana in South America. Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple took a little field trip – no permission slips needed – from California all the way down to Guyana to celebrate life, liberty, and the recent Yankees World Series victory (Especially Bucky Dent’s home run in that playoff game. I’ve always blamed Dent for Jonestown, that son of a bitch.).
These 900 people followed the man with the suspiciously plain name to the point of everyone’s favorite pastime – mass suicide. It was the greatest single, non-natural disaster related loss of American civilian life up until September 11, 2001. Unless you’re Al-Qaeda, you don’t mess around with Jim!
Jones – who, and very few people say this, was truly a go-getter – passed around li’l cups of what everyone assumes was Kool-Aid. Uh-uh. You hear people like Bill O’Reilly use the phrase “Kool-Aid drinkers” to describe those who blindly follow someone or something. But, no, it was a company called Flavor-Aid. Do you really think Kool-Aid would have survived that bad publicity? He comes crashing through a wall and there lies 900 bodies?
Flavor-Aid was the incredibly unlucky company whose product was combined with cyanide and enjoyed by Jim Jones’ followers. No, Flavor-Aid wouldn’t last very long after this day. Kind of like Ayds, the dietary candy that enjoyed moderate success until a certain highly-deadly disease was invented.
A total team player, Jones himself also died that day, but his legacy lived on, particularly in his 1990 co-founding of the neo-psychedelic band The Brian Jonestown Massacre, along with original Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. This was, of course, after Jim left the band Jesus Jones when he a Jesus had a falling out.
So take a moment today to reflect on the story of Jim Jones - reverend, cult leader, man who had a town named after him. I mean, could you get 900 people to poison themselves to death? I don’t think so.