Thursday 3rd July 2003 - The Blue Plaque
On a warm and balmy summer’s day in Cheltenham, a group of people gathered around the grave of Brian Jones, an anniversary meeting that had been repeated many times since that awful day in 1969 when Brian departed this earth under such mysterious circumstances. This day was different though; there was a feeling of expectation, something different, something to separate this sad commemoration from the thirty three previous occasions.
The 3rd of July has always been the day recognised by fans the world over, as the anniversary of Brian’s death, although we all know that it was actually late into the night of the 2nd July that Brian actually died. In all those years since the death of the founding member of the Rolling Stones, no recognition of his status has ever been officially recorded. However, this 3rd July 2003 was to be different, we all had the expectation that a ceremony was due to start at 2pm that would finally give official recognition of Brian Jones by his home town peers.
Over the years, the Brian Jones Fan Club has worked tirelessly to raise money and persuade the authorities in Cheltenham to recognise Brian Jones in the form of a Blue Plaque. Pat Andrews, together with David and Maralyn Reynolds and supported by fan club members had finally achieved what was once thought impossible. The day for official recognition was now upon us.
As is the custom, fans from all over the world had sent beautiful floral tributes expressing their sorrow at this sad time. These flowers lay like a cloak across the grave as Pat, with customary steadfastness talked of Brian and her sadness for his passing. Trembling with emotion she spoke in glowing terms of the amazing fans from far and wide who kept the spirit of Brian alive, many names were mentioned and acknowledged. As Pat eventually mingled with the fans the occasion was broken with bright anecdotes and memories of past reunions.
After about an hour chatting with old friends, Pat and a few invited fans made their way to Eldorado Road and "Rosemead", the house where Brian spent his early years. Arriving at the house, the garden and forecourt were awash with invited dignitaries and guests, a guy checking invites seemed a little over the top but after confirming names on the guest list everybody was introduced to Robert and Alison Duncan, the present owners of "Rosemead" and invited to share in a glass of wine.
The Blue Plaque, hidden by a small tasselled velvet drape was already positioned beneath the house name "Rosemead" to the left of the front porch. In the rear garden, the guest of honour, Nigel Jones MP was chatting with a group of people while other invited guests mingled and made small talk while awaiting the main event.
Also, the Duncan’s had kindly opened their home for all to wander in and out and to take in the ambience of what was the home of the infant Brian Jones.
After a while David Reynolds called everybody to the front of the house and with his customary flair, spoke of Brian and then introduced the guest of honour.
Nigel Jones made a pleasant speech, talking about Brian and his talents and giving various facts on his life before finally unveiling the Blue Plaque, which was greeted with heart felt applause. Pat Andrews, Richard Hattrell and Philip Guy-Davies, an old friend of Brian’s from the late 1950’s, then shared their thoughts on this very special day and then together with Nigel Jones posed for photographs beside the Blue Plaque.
In all, it was a special day, Brian’s special day, everybody agreeing that to be finally recognised by his home town was a fitting tribute to the talented young musician who left Cheltenham seeking fame and fortune amongst the bright lights of London and along the way, establishing his band that changed the world of popular music for all time.