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6. Brian Jones (formerly The Odeon)

Brian Jones was born 28th February 1942 in the Park Nursing Home, Cheltenham. He attended Dean Close Preparatory School (1947-53) and Pates Grammar School in Cheltenham (1953-57) before leaving for London to find fame in The Rolling Stones. He came back with them to play at the Gaumont Cinema, later the Odeon Cinema, on this site in 1964 and 1965.

What's the history?

Brian Jones performed here with the Rolling Stones in February 1964, two years after the band formed, and September 1965 when the site housed the Odeon from the mid 1960s.  It closed in 2006 and was demolished in 2014.  It originally opened at the Gaumont Palace in 1933 and was renamed the Gaumont in 1937. In addition to showing films, there were live performances and a large café/ballroom. The building was typical of 1930s architecture with two relief sculptures by Newbury A. Trent, on the façade. The two dancing figures, which hold up strips of celluloid, are now on the St Margaret’s Road corner of the Brewery.

Much is written about Brian Jones, his traditional middle class childhood in Cheltenham, a bright child at school who played the clarinet and sang in the local church choir. His mother loved music, but her tastes were conventional. Jones discovered jazz and the underground Cheltenham music scene in his teens and rebelled against his parents’ disapproval of this.  It seems this provoked the wild side in him, only previously glimpsed when he was a child as a certain kind of charm.

He died tragically young at 27, in 1969. How and why still remains a controversy to this day.

 

A local opinion

Brian Jones is arguably the most well known pop musician to have a connection with Cheltenham but he’s far from being the only one.

The town has always had a healthy music scene having many home grown artists as well as people who studied in the town or made the area their home.

Cheltenham has also been home to many venues, record stores and even a few record labels. Other notable Cheltenham born artists that made pop or rock music their career and achieved success include New wave legend and composer Jaz Coleman of “Killing Joke” fame and more recently FKA Twigs who as a dancer, choreographer and backing singer recently found success as a solo artist. “Wurzel” who played guitar with Motorhead for a number of years was also born in Cheltenham. There are plenty of musicians, artists and bands who didn’t go on to be household names but cut their teeth in the town supported by local venues, small record labels and shops. During the 1990s for example there was a healthy indie and alternative scene in the town with bands playing at venues such as “The Green Room”and “The Axiom”. The scene spawned a couple of record labels run from the town notably Ochre Records and Badlands Records (set up by the record shop) who released vinyl and CDs from local acts such as Reverb , Ideal, Girl of the Year and Longstone all of which received airplay on BBC Radio such as the famous John Peel show.

 

Mike Ward

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