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The Mysterious Death of Brian Jones

The death of Brian Jones, a founding member of The Rolling Stones, has remained one of rock music's most enduring mysteries. On July 3, 1969, Jones was found lifeless at the bottom of his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm, his Sussex estate,

The home previously owned byWinnie-the-Pooh creator A. A. Milne, had been purchased by Jones in November 1968. Alexis Korner, who visited in late June, observed that Jones appeared to be "happier than ever." Jones had reached out to Korner, Stewart, John Lennon, Mitch Mitchell, Alan Price, and Jimmy Miller regarding plans to form a new band. Jones had reportedly recorded some of his own songs in the weeks leading up to his death, including "Has Anybody Seen My Baby?" and "Chow Time".

The circumstances surrounding his untimely demise have sparked numerous theories, debates, and speculations over the decades.


Brian Jones was a multifaceted musician, known for his innovative use of various instruments in The Rolling Stones' early recordings. However, his life was marked by personal turmoil, substance abuse, and conflicts within the band. By June 1969, Jones had been dismissed from The Rolling Stones, a band he had helped to form, due to his erratic behaviour and inability to tour. Less than a month later, he was dead.

In the early hours of 3 July 1969, Jones was found unconscious at the bottom of his pool at Cotchford Farm. His Swedish partner, Anna Wohlin, believed he was alive when he was removed from the water, claiming she could feel a pulse. Unfortunately, medical assistance came too late, and he was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital, at the age of 27.

The official coroner's report stated that Jones' death was due to "drowning while under the influence of drugs and alcohol." The autopsy revealed a significant amount of alcohol and traces of drugs, including barbiturates and amphetamines, in his system . This conclusion seemed straightforward, suggesting that Jones, who had a well-documented history of substance abuse, had accidentally drowned.

Soon after Jones's death, various theories emerged, with individuals associated with the Stones asserting that he was killed. Rock biographer Philip Norman mentioned that every five years or so, the idea of murder would resurface. In 1993, reports suggested that Frank Thorogood, a builder working on the property and the last person to see Jones alive, may have murdered him. Thorogood supposedly admitted the crime to the Rolling Stones' driver Tom Keylock, although Keylock later denied this. This theory was later depicted in the 2005 film Stoned. Allegedly, Thorogood killed Jones during a dispute over payment; he had received £18,000 for work at Cotchford Farm but demanded an additional £6,000. It is claimed that senior police officers covered up the killing after realizing the mishandling of the initial investigation by local authorities.

In August 2009, Sussex Police conducted a review of Jones' case, the first since 1969, following new evidence provided by investigative journalist Scott Jones, who had located many individuals present at Brian Jones's residence on the night of his death. The journalist had also discovered previously unseen police documents archived at the National Archives. In 2010, after the review, Sussex Police decided not to reopen the case, asserting that "this has been thoroughly reviewed by Sussex Police's Crime Policy and Review Branch, but there is no new evidence to suggest that the coroner's original verdict of 'death by misadventure' was incorrect". Jones's children John and Barbara maintain the belief that their father was murdered. Barbara is featured in the 2019 documentary Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones, which supports the murder theory.

The question of Jones' swimming abilities is crucial to understanding the plausibility of the accidental drowning theory. Accounts from friends and acquaintances suggest that Jones was a competent swimmer. Anna Wohlin and other close associates maintained that Jones was unlikely to have drowned accidentally, especially in the shallow end of the pool where his body was found .

The pool in which Jones drowned

Drugs and Alcohol

The presence of drugs and alcohol in Jones' system is undisputed. Friends and bandmates have consistently described Jones' heavy drinking and drug use in the months leading up to his death. Bill Wyman, the bassist for The Rolling Stones, noted in his autobiography "Stone Alone" that Jones was "a habitual user of drugs and alcohol," which had significantly affected his physical and mental health .

Several anecdotes from those who were close to Jones paint a picture of a man struggling with inner demons. Marianne Faithfull, a close friend of Jones, recounted in her memoir, "Faithfull: An Autobiography," the emotional and psychological toll that his drug use had on him. She described a man who was "beautiful but fragile," whose self-destructive tendencies were evident to those around him .

On the night of his death, accounts vary as to what exactly transpired. Janet Lawson, a nurse who was present at the scene, provided conflicting testimonies over the years, sometimes indicating foul play and at other times suggesting an accidental drowning. Her inconsistent statements have only added to the mystery .

Brian Jones' death remains shrouded in ambiguity, with each theory providing a piece of a larger, more complex puzzle. While the official verdict of "death by misadventure" stands, the alternative theories, supported by various testimonies and inconsistencies in the investigation, continue to provoke speculation. Whether Jones' death was a tragic accident or the result of foul play, it undeniably marked the end of an era for The Rolling Stones and left an indelible mark on the history of rock and roll.

Bo Diddley described Jones as

"a little dude that was trying to pull the group ahead. I saw him as the leader. He didn't take no mess. He was a fantastic cat; he handled the group beautifully."

The passing of Jones at the age of 27 marked the beginning of the 1960s rock phenomenon. Within two years, the music world saw the drug-related deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Alan Wilson, and Janis Joplin, all at the same young age. This convergence of their deaths at 27 has become known in popular culture as the "27 Club".

When Alastair Johns, who owned Cotchford Farm for over 40 years after Jones's death, refurbished the pool, he sold the original tiles to Jones's fans for £100 each. The sales of the tiles paid for half of the work.

Jones' legacy, much like his death, is complex. He was a pioneering musician whose influence is still felt today, but his life was also a cautionary tale of the perils of fame and excess. As the years pass, the mystery of his death may never be fully resolved, but it continues to captivate and intrigue both fans and scholars alike.


  1. Fielder, Hugh. The Rolling Stones: The Greatest Rock Band. Chartwell Books, 2012.

  2. White, Timothy. Rock Lives: Profiles and Interviews. Holt Paperbacks, 1990.

  3. Wohlin, Anna. The Murder of Brian Jones. Blake Publishing, 1999.

  4. Giuliano, Geoffrey. Paint It Black: The Murder of Brian Jones. Cooper Square Press, 1995.

  5. Fong-Torres, Ben. "The Mystery of Brian Jones." Rolling Stone Magazine, July 3, 1989.

  6. Oldham, Andrew Loog. Stoned: A Memoir of London in the 1960s. St. Martin's Press, 2001.

  7. Wyman, Bill. Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock 'n' Roll Band. Viking Press, 1998



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