2019 marks 50 years since the tragic early death aged 27 of Rolling Stones founder member and original leader Brian Jones. He was born in Cheltenham, England on 28 February1942, in the midst of the Second World War, when Cheltenham was awash with young American GIs looking for fun and entertainment. He spent his formative years in a town pervaded by secrecy and respectability, with an underground music scene nurturing his taste for rhythm and blues. Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones said of Jones “He formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs… he was very influential.” He has inspired a loyal fan club and his grave, in Cheltenham Cemetery, is carefully tended.
To mark the anniversary, Cotswold Guides and Marketing Cheltenham have devised a walking tour taking in some of the sites associated with Brian’s early life in Cheltenham. Discover some intriguing stories about his schoolboy years and learn about the emerging music scene in basement jazz clubs, where Brian first nurtured his taste for blues music, playing saxophone and slide guitar. Brian left Cheltenham for London in the early ‘60s, but the Cheltenham music scene continued to develop with local group The Ramrods, which Brian had joined briefly, continuing to play gigs with some of the big names of the 1960s.
The tour starts at the Cheltenham Wilson Art Gallery and Museum, and takes us through the churchyard of St Mary’s Parish Church, where Brian’s funeral service took place. From the High Street, where Brian attended Cheltenham Grammar School, the walk will explore the sites associated with his early playing career and his triumphant return to play on stage at the Odeon with the now famous Rolling Stones. The venues may no-longer exist, but the stories bring to life a man and a time when a musically gifted and talented schoolboy emerged to create one of the most famous bands in the world.
The walking tour is accessible to all and will visit locations around Cheltenham Town Centre with no major obstacles (e.g steps) involved. Please dress appropriately according to weather, sensible footwear is recommended. Cost £10 per person.
Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours (depending on questions and group discussions along the way)
Distance: Approximately 1-1.5 miles
*Please note that this tour does not visit Cheltenham Cemetery as a location due to it's distance away from the tour starting point.
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