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The Adventures of Winnie The Pooh & The Misadventures of a Rolling Stone

In mid November of 1968, Rolling Stone Brian Jones, moved in to the new home he'd just bought with his then girlfriend, 21 year old Swedish dancer, Anna Wohlin. Cotchford Farm Estate in the village of Hartfield in East Sussex, UK was about 50 miles from London and the place where, it's former owner, AA Milne, created Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. The six bedroom property sat on 9.5 acres and came complete with a heated pool.

Brian's two year relationship with Anita Pallenberg had ended the year before when she and his bandmate, Keith Richards, became a couple. Previous drug convictions made obtaining a visa to enter the United States impossible for Brian so the band toured America without him. All while the band's new manager was guiding the direction of their music away from Jones' beloved blues; the basis on which he'd founded The Rolling Stones.

Tom Keylock, a driver employed by the group, brought builder, Frank Thorogood, to the house to do some construction work Brian wanted done. Frank had worked in Keith Richards house previously so he was used to (the married) Tom's girlfriend, Jenny Lawson (a 22 year old nurse) being around a lot. The difference being, Richards was never home. Jones always was.

Frank was spending extended amounts of time at Cotchford Farm heading up his construction crew to complete the work. Not only was he witness to the drug and alcohol consumption but he was often the victim of Brian's cruel jokes and treatment. Brian, being a demanding rock star and all, admitted to Thorogood that he "so enjoyed winding him up."

Continued drinking and drug use resulted in Brian being less and less involved in rehearsing or songwriting duties with the band. Management was also growing tired of his frivolous spending habits (which by far outweighed those of the other members of the band). So, when Thorogood, under pressure from his unpaid crew members, was laughed out of The Stones office when he requested payment, frustrations were beginning to run high.

In June of 1969, Mick and Keith visited Jones at the estate. The visit was to inform him that he was being replaced. Management had agreed to terms that would pay Brian £100K immediately plus £20K a year for every year the band continued to exists. On 9June1969 Brian Jones announced via the press that he had quit the band blaming the split on 'creative differences.'

Over the next few weeks, drug use and tensions grew. Brian fired Frank Thorogood but not before telling him he was truly a horrible builder and to not expect any payment.

On the night of 2July1969, Brian and Anna were enjoying an evening swim. Frank, still upset about having been fired earlier in the day, jumped in the pool as well. Anna went inside when the two men started rough housing. At around midnight, Janet Lawson went outside and discovered Brian at the bottom of the pool. Her screaming brought Anna outside and the two managed to get him out of the water. Frank called emergency services but Brian Jones was pronounced dead upon his arrival at the hospital.

The Rolling Stones dedicated their concert in Hyde Park, two days later, to the memory of Brian Jones. An estimated 500K people attended that show.

Tom Keynote hurried Anna Wohlin on a plane back to Sweden in the days following Brian's death. He, himself, was fired 3 weeks later.

Builder, Frank Thorogood claimed to police that he discovered Brian's body along with Anna and Jenny. The coroner ruled it a 'death by misadventure' as toxicology reports showed small amounts of drugs and alcohol in Jones' system. Brian Jones was 27 years old.

Brian is buried in Cheltenham Cemetery (10 feet deep to discourage trophy hunters). Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were the only two Rolling Stones to attend his funeral.

In 1993, Frank Thorogood made a confession on his deathbed as to having killed Brian Jones in the pool that night. All of this however remains speculation since a reopened inquest in 2009 concluded that his death would remain a 'death by misadventure.' Both Anna Wohlin's 2001 book The Murder of Brian Jones and the 2005 movie Stoned by Stephen Woolley depict the events of that night as having happened this way.

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©rock tour london, 2021

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