July 3, 1969

July3On this day in 1969, Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool.

Rock ‘n roll folktale has it that Jones drowned by accident or by suicide, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and after being fired from the very band he had formed, The Rolling Stones, just a month prior.

The night Jones died, there were three guests at his home, the Cotchford Farm in Hartfield, East Sussex, which was previously the home of Winnie The Poo author A.A. Milne. Those guests were Janet Lawson, a 26-year-old nurse who knew the musician through Rolling Stones tour manager Tom Keylock; Frank Thorogood, a 43-year-old contract builder; and Anna Wohlin, Jones’s girlfriend at the time.

All three guests gave statements to police within six hours of the death, saying that Jones was drunk or had been drinking. Thorogood said Jones had secretly been taking sleeping tablets as well.

At the time of Jones’s death, Lawson had been asked to “keep an eye on Brian” by Keylock, but to act as a friend staying for a few days – basically a spy for the Stones’ management.

Thorogood had been at the estate working on different projects when he and Jones became more than just business acquaintances. Jones and Thorogood started to dabble in pills and alcohol together. Thorogood apparently became more and more deranged as time and substance passed by. Jones fired Thorogood the very day that he was to be found dead.

In the early evening, Jones and his three guests ate a dinner of steak and kidney pie. Thorogood, by all accounts, was acting erratic and intoxicated.

After eating, the group returned to the pool where Jones asked Lawson to find and bring him his asthma inhaler. Lawson was in the kitchen when Thorogood came in soaking wet, his hands shaking and with a crazed look on his face. Janet ran to the pool immediately. There she found Jones at the bottom, lifeless.

In the early years after the death, both Lawson and Wohlin were silenced by Keylock and the Stones’ management. The ladies were told the death would be “ruled death by misadventure… an accident, [that] would be the best for all involved”.  They were also advised not look further into what they felt was a possible murder.

In 1994, while Thorogood was on his deathbed, he supposedly confessed to murdering Brian saying, “It was me that did Brian in. It just happened. I just snapped. That’s all there is to it.” He died before any official confession could be recorded.

In 1999, Wohlin would break her silence about the evenings events in a book titled, The Murder of Brian Jones: The Secret Story of My Love Affair with the Murdered Rolling Stone.

In 2008, Lawson (who had changed her name for safety reasons) spoke out about the death of Jones just prior to her passing from cancer. She too claims that Thorogood had caused the death of Jones.

Jones left behind six children.

Dying at the age of 27 made Jones one of the first musical legends to join the 27 Club, since Robert Johnson’s death in 1938.

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