Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones is Born

Brian Jones was born Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones in the Town’s Park Nursing Home on February 28th, 1942. He was the first child for Lewis Blount Jones, an aircraft designer, and Louisa Beatrice Jones, a piano teacher. The Jones family were well-to-do, middle class, living in a nice house in a good neighborhood of a nice, middle-class town. Not the background you would expect for a man that would become synonymous with the excesses of the 1960s

Brian Jones Family

Within the next few years, sister Pamela, who was born on 3 October 1943 and died tragically young from leukemia on 14 October 1945. Brian Jones never forgot his feelings of isolation at his parents coldness during this period, particularly from his mother, Louisa. Years later, he told Anna Wohlin how his mother had withdrawn into apparent grief:

“Instead of giving me a hug and trying to understand and comfort me when I was being difficult, she pushed me away. I felt rejected and unloved and I still don’t know what she really thinks of me”

Pat Andrews (one of his girlfriends) recalls Brian Jones talking sadly of his parents, how years later he still remembered his mothers words when, aged barely four years old and inquisitive as to where his sister had gone was told in no uncertain terms that she’d been naughty and had been taken away to somewhere horrible, and that if he acted in a similar manner that would happen to him too! In 1946 his second sister, Barbara was born.

Brian Jones School Years

During his childhood, Brian Jones attended the local Dean Close School, from September 1949 to July 1953 and then Cheltenham Grammar School for Boys, which he entered in September 1953 after easily passing the Eleven-plus exam. Brian Jones sailed through nine O – Levels and two A – Levels.

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Brian Jones had a reported IQ of 133 as referred to by Dr. Walter Neustatter in his psychiatric report to the Court Of Appeals after Brian’s 1967 drug conviction, so he sailed through his studies. However Brian Jones was anything but a model pupil. “He was a rebel without a cause, but when examinations came he was brilliant.” according to Dick Hattrell, a childhood friend.

Brian Jones disliked the school uniforms and angered teachers with his behavior, though he was popular among students. His hostility to authority figures resulted in his suspension from school on two occasions. Unsurprisingly around this time he started clashing with his father, a strict disciplinarian who accused him of squandering his academic talents.

Brian wasn’t interested in academia, music was his passion. Brian Jones’s mother, Louisa had taught him piano, and he’d graduated with instinctive ease to the recorder and clarinet. At 15, he was playing washboard in a school skiffle band and a year later he was playing saxophone with a local jazz combo and immersed in the music of Charlie Parker. Lewis simply viewed his son’s passion for music as ‘evil’, and distracting.

Brian Jones Girlfriends and Children

It wasn’t his passion for music that would cause the biggest breach in his relationship with his father though. Even as a teenager Brian was popular with girls. They loved his blond hair, his smile, his charm and his attentive conversation. But this would get Brian, sixteen at the time, and his fourteen year-old girlfriend Valerie into a huge predicament when she became pregnant. A huge family row ensued, and Brian left school and was packed off to Europe while the dust settled.
Brian Jones would tell stories of his travels through Scandinavia and Northern Europe, living a Bohemian lifestyle and busking to earn enough money to live, while other reports said he simply went to stay with family friends in Germany.

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Valerie, to whom he’d pledged his love, was exiled to France for most of her pregnancy before returning to Cheltenham to have her child, a boy, later named Simon. He was to be the first of Brian Jones’s four illegitimate children. After returning to Cheltenham Brian did not settle down with Valerie. Valerie eventually married Brian Jones’s friend Graham Ride.

Soon after, in 1959, a one night stand with a married woman called Angeline saw Brian Jones’s second child, this time a daughter, be born. Angeline and her husband decided to raise the baby together and she lived most of her life not knowing who her real father was only learning the identity of her father after her mother’s death.

By now it was 1960 and Brian Jones was playing guitar and sax with various jazz outfits and half-heartedly took on a few menial jobs further infuriating his rather snobbish parents. He was also known to steal small amounts of money to pay for cigarettes, which usually left him looking for another job.

Brian Jones thrown out of the Family Home

The Jones’s “wastrel” son was becoming an embarrassment and when he took a job as a coal man they were utterly outraged. That December they locked Brian out of the house and went away for Christmas, leaving his suitcase in the garden. Brian Jones broke into the house but when the neighbors noticed the lights on they called the police and Brian had some explaining to do.

Pat Andrews

Brian Jones was facing Christmas alone until his then girlfriend’s family, the Andrews, took pity on him and invited him around for dinner. Brian’s girlfriend, Pat Andrews, was a 15-year-old Cheltenham shop-girl and shortly into the New Year Brian was to show he had not learned anything when his girlfriend also fell pregnant.

By this point Brian Jones’ family were at the end of their tether with their son. According to Pat Andrews, when they told his mother she,

“became hysterical, picking things up and throwing them at Brian and screaming at the top of her voice… then she ran into Brian’s old bedroom, grabbed his guitar and started smashing it”.

Pat’s mother wasn’t too pleased with Brian either, and, catching up with him on Cheltenham’s high street smacked him around the head with her umbrella.

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Their son, Julian Mark, was born in October 1961, and the couple moved in together into Pat’s sister’s home for a couple of months. Initially Brian made an effort, selling his record collection to buy flowers for Pat and clothes for their newborn but Brian Jones would never be a model father.

Brian Jones leaves Cheltenham

Brian Jones was moving away from Jazz and towards R&B. He was making regular weekend trips to London to see the players and meet with other musicians in the tight knit London R&B scene that would spawn The Rolling Stones. His friends included Oxford singer Paul Jones (later of Manfred Mann), with whom he formed a makeshift group and Jack Bruce who would later play with Cream. However it was his meeting with Alexis Korner after a gig at Cheltenham Town Hall that would be the catalyst for Brian’s musical ambitions.

Alexis Korner was obviously impressed by Brian Jones musicianship and they became lifelong friends. While visiting Alexis Korner in London, Brian met many of the leading players and started calling himself Elmore Jones, then Elmo Lewis after his hero Elmore James. Alexis Korner described Brian Jones as “this pent-up ball of obsessive energy” as he practiced night and day to emulate his heros.

In 1961 at just 19 years of age, Brian Jones left Pat and Julian in Cheltenham and made the permanent move to London.

Comments

  1. Greg Owen says:

    Hello, I have crossed paths with a man called Philip Guy Davis who tells anyone who will listen that he was a childhood friend of Brian Jones and further, that he accompanied Brian, hitch hiking to London from Cheltenham in the early days of the Stones. Having done a Google search and found no mention of Philip Guy Davis in connection with Brian or the Stones I wonder if you have ever found reference to him or if you know someone who could help me find out more.

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