The Origins of The Brian Jones Fan Club and the BJFC Website
In July 1984 Father John Heidt, priest of Saints Philip and James Church in Up Hatherley, a suburb of Cheltenham held a Requiem Mass for Brian Jones, founder of the legendary Rolling Stones.
Amongst the congregation was Pat Andrews, Brian’s partner in the early sixties and mother to their son Mark. The Mass proved popular with many fans and friends of Brian who went on to attend the following year, initiating an annual event – Father John Heidt’s Requiem Mass went on to become tradition for almost a decade. The custom unfortunately came to an end in 1994 when Father John was asked to return home to the U.S.A. to take up pastoral duties in his Dallas diocese.
However, before leaving for America, Father John helped organise a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the death of Brian Jones. On Saturday 2nd July 1994 Cheltenham Racecourse hosted twelve hours of music to celebrate Brian’s life. Over 300 fans from the UK, Europe and from as-far-a-field as Japan and California paid £25 each to enjoy music and memories from Donovan, Noel Redding, Dick Heckstall-Smith, The Downliners Sect, Brian Knight and many more who knew Brian.
One of the many guests of the concert organisers was Pat Andrews. And it was on that day at the Racecourse, on the 25th anniversary of Brian’s death, that Pat agreed with a dedicated group of Brian's fans to form a fan club to promote a more positive image of Brian Jones than they felt had been seen by the general public in the past.
In the Spring of 1996, and along with the David and Marilyn Reynolds running the newly formed Brian Jones Fan Club, Pat Andrews finally achieved recognition for Brian in the form of a fanzine. The name aptly chosen for the magazine was 'The Spirit' and, over the following seven years provided the Fan Club a medium for sharing information with members around the world.
In July 2003, on the 33rd anniversary of Brian's death the Fan Club achieved, against the wishes of many of the more staid population of Cheltenham, an official Blue Plaque mounted at the entrance to Brian’s childhood home 'Eldorado'. The then local Member of Parliament, Nigel Jones (now Lord Jones), a supporter of Cheltenham’s Brian Jones Fan Club officiated and drew the tasselled velvet veil revealing the Blue Plaque – permanently honouring the young Cheltonian who didn't quite fit the image that Cheltenham so desperately wanted to maintain.
Plans for a street on a new housing development to be designated 'Brian Jones Crescent' met stiffer opposition however, and were eventually scrapped. But the Blue Plaque, quietly tucked away in a suburban street, is a lasting testament, not only to Brian but also to the persistence of the Brian Jones Fan Club.
Pat Andrews and her friends achieved a lot since Father John Heidt held his first Requiem Mass for Brian Jones in 1984. Father John always kept in touch with Pat and never forgot his close association with the Fan Club. He often expressed his empathy for Brian who was, he considered, Cheltenham’s most misunderstood son.
Father John Heidt had a high regard for Brian and during his time as priest of Saints Philip and James Church saw his Requiem Mass as fitting, even though he experienced opposition from many of his parishioners. Sadly Father John passed away on the 29th October 2009, but two years before he died he wrote a personal Eulogy for Brian. His words speak volumes, especially about those parishioners who sadly typify Cheltenham so well in everything concerning Brian Jones……
2003 saw a significant change in the Fan Club. Having achieved Blue Plaque recognition for Brian, David and Marilyn Reynolds departed the Brian Jones Fan Club with their only unfinished venture being the bronze Brian Jones Statue project. The idea for a statue was initiated by Pat Andrews in the mid 1990’s with such promise, but autocratically taken over by David and Marilyn in the later years and which sadly became such a debacle.
The Brian Jones bust tucked away in a shopping mall in Cheltenham did little to enhance Brian’s reputation with the locals.
In mid 2003 the Brian Jones Fan Club website was established and a brand new format fanzine AfterMath replaced The Spirit. AfterMath received kind comment from many quarters, including probably the Rolling Stones 'most official' fan magazine at the time – Shattered – whose editor Jaap Hoeksma wrote to us after receiving issue #1 commenting "I just want to say what a wonderful job you've all done! The layout, the print job, the colour photo's and of course the stars of any magazine – the articles, so, praise all around, which we will also give in the next issue of Shattered".
Pat Andrews and all her friends associated with the Fan Club are determined to ensure that Brian's memory will live on, and the recognition that he so richly deserves, being the stylish and charismatic founder member of ‘the greatest band in the world’, will continue to be recognised. The Fan Club website and in-house fanzine AfterMath hopes to show a side to Brian not often reported; a side that shows compassion, the foresighted recognition of ethnic music and tradition, a before-his-time appreciation of fashion and culture, a general willingness to help others and finally, a unique musical ability that was sadly cut short with his untimely death. We all appreciate that Brian had his faults but the often reported negative aspects of Brian's life, we consider, are far outweighed by his positive traits.
This web site is an extension and natural progression of the work achieved previously by Father John Heidt, Pat Andrews, Dick Hattrell and the many volunteers within the Fan Club. Our aim in founding this website is to promote the world of Brian Jones to a wider audience over the World Wide Web.