Brian Jones Memorial Tribute Concert - 2nd July 1994 - Cheltenham Racecourse

From the magazine RECORD COLLECTOR August 1994


Cheltenham Racecourse played host to a virtual who's who of British R&B veterans on July 2nd, as colleagues, friends, lovers and fans united in paying tribute to Brian Jones. The show, billed as a Brian Jones Memorial Tribute Concert, attracted visitors from as far away as America, Australia, Japan, Sweden and Poland.

Donovan, his vocal warble still in fine shape, was the major attraction. After a short set of acoustic numbers, he spoke of Brian's achievements in pioneering world music — a cue for Bachir Attar, the chief of the Master Musicians Of Morocco, to appear, joined by Brian's son, Julian (now Donovan's stepson). After an improvisation based around one of the central themes of the "Joujouka" album, Don returned with Noel Redding and Mick Avory in tow for an electric set. "Season Of The Witch" and "Sunshine Superman" were half-expected: versions of "Sympathy For The Devil" and "The Last Time", both with Julian on vocals, were interesting surprises.

R&B was the staple diet, though. Don Craine donned his deerstalker as the Downliners Sect turned in a fine set, joined by Ronnie's brother Art Wood for songs like "Route 66", "Around And Around" and "Hoochie Coochie Man".

The Pretty Things, who performed early due to a prior continental engagement, were in great form — despite the makeshift lineup. Old hits, like "Don't Let Me Down", "Rosalyn" and their neglected garage band classic, "Midnight To Six Man", blended well with newer material, like the recently written "High School Blues", which evoked Phil May and Dick Taylor's days at Sidcup High School with Keith Richards.

Noel Redding's band were equally impressive, kicking off with the Kinks' "Victoria" (drummer Mick Avory was the connection there), and delivering a splendid version of the Move's "I Can Hear The Grass Grow". Announcing that "We've got a special guest, if we can find him," the band started up the riff of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Fire". The guest didn't arrive, but they played the rest of the song anyway! Oddly, no "Little Miss Strange" or "She's So Fine", though.

There were also sets from Shut Up Frank, Jangg, Changing Man and the Wycombe-based Holy Cow, who injected a hard rockin' 90s feel to the proceedings. The latter had been recommended by Tom Keylock, the minder/chauffeur employed by the Stones during the 60s, who was particularly close to Brian and Keith. Keylock, now a youthful 69, seemed particularly delighted to be back among so many old friends.

Others, like Brian Knight and Dick Heckstall-Smith, served to remind the audience of Brian's musical origins. Backstage, Knight, a veteran of the Jones/Dick Taylor/Ian Stewart era-Stones, recalled how his own musical purism led him away from the band ("Brian wanted to move too closely to rock'n'roll", he says), and to turn down the chance of recording with Jimmy Page!

Only an event like this could grind to a temporary halt after some priceless memorabilia was thought to be missing (it wasn't!), but the convivial atmosphere, fuelled by the attendance of many Jones intimates and enthusiasts, made it the biggest and best celebration of the ex-Stone's life and work yet. As we were going to press, the show was about to be re-staged at the Marquee Club, London.

Donovan, Noel Redding and Tom Keylock joined many in paying tribute to the late Stone.