Police to re-examine death of Rolling Stones guitarist

Matt Surman

LONDON (AP) ‚British police said Monday they will review the death of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, whose 1969 drowning was ruled an accident but sparked decades of speculation that he was murdered.

Sussex police in southeast England said they will examine new documents received from an investigative journalist relating to Jones’ death.

“It’s too early to comment at this time as to what the outcome might be,” the Sussex duty inspector said, reading a statement over the telephone. Police did not give further details.

The Mail on Sunday reported that journalist Scott Jones ‚who is not related to the musician, has handed over 600 documents to Sussex police.

Brian Jones, one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, was the person who reportedly came up with the band’s name. Formed in 1962, the band branched out from blues covers to become a pivotal group in the so-called British Invasion, drawing fans attracted by their rebellious image and surly but sexy style.

Jones was quickly eclipsed by swaggering lead singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, whose songwriting propelled the band’s popularity. Increasingly marginalized and drawn to drugs and alcohol, Jones quit the band a month before his death and was replaced by Mick Taylor.

Jones stood out even among his bandmates for his flashy clothes and prodigious appetite for drugs. He died July 2, 1969 at age 27, his body found in the swimming pool at his 11-acre Sussex estate.

A coroner said Jones drowned while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, but the ruling did not quiet speculation that Jones’ death was not an accident.

Two 1994 books claimed that Jones was murdered by a London builder who had been hired to help renovate Jones’ home: “Paint it Black: The Murder of Brian Jones,” by Geoffrey Guiliano and “Who Killed Christopher Robin?” by Terry Rawlings.

Both claimed that builder Frank Thorogood confessed on his deathbed in November 1993 to killing Jones to a road manager for the Stones.

“It was me that did Brian. I just finally snapped,” Thorogood reportedly said to road manager Tom Keylock, Rawlings’ book quoted Keylock as saying.

It was not clear why British police did not reopen an investigation after those books were published.

Keylock died in July 2009, according to the British newspaper, The Times.

Scott Jones interviewed Janet Lawson, the person who discovered the guitarist’s body, shortly before she died last year. In the interview, published in The Mail on Sunday last November, Lawson claimed that her boyfriend, the Rolling Stones tour manager Keylock, had asked her to visit Brian Jones as he was worried about tensions between Jones and Thorogood.

She told the investigative reporter that she saw Jones and Thorogood fooling about in the pool, and later saw Thorogood come into the house, shaking badly.

She told Scott Jones her original police statement did not mention any tensions between Jones and Thorogood.

The police were trying to put words into my mouth,” she is reported as saying.

The title of Rawlings’ book is a reference to Jones’ estate, which was formerly the home of the late author A.A. Milne, author of “Winnie the Pooh,” which features the character Christopher Robin.

The Rolling Stones are now one of the most influential, biggest-selling rock bands in the world, with album sales estimated at more than 200 million copies. The band’s long list of classic hits include “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” ”Street Fighting Man” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The Stones topped Forbes’ rich list for music acts in 2007, earning some $88 million between June 2006 and June 2007, mostly from their “Bigger Bang Tour.”