The Rolling Stone and Crich Trams

IT was 40 years ago on Friday that infamous Rolling Stone Brian Jones was found dead in the swimming pool at his Sussex home.

Mystery surrounds the life and death of the guitarist, with fans still debating whether he was murdered, he fell during an asthma attack, or if he died from a drink-fuelled overdose of recreational drugs.

In fact, many details remain scarce or unknown about 27-year-old's life, not least the musician's strong connection to Amber Valley.

As the anniversary of Jones's 1969 death arrives, Crich Tramway Village has revealed that he was one of the volunteers who helped to get the attraction off the ground in the early 1960s.

Jones joined others working on the derelict Cliff Quarry, which became the well-known museum.

Before going on to find worldwide fame with the rock band, fronted by Mick Jagger, Jones gave his up Sundays to the Crich project for almost two years, travelling from Cheltenham with friend John Appleby.

The duo were part of a ten-strong group of tram enthuisasts, members of the Tramway Museum Society, who travelled from Cheltenham to ride the vehicles in Sheffield and Leeds.

In a letter from April 1960, which is archived at the museum, a Leeds bus driver, who knew Jones, said: "An 18-year-old who came to Leeds with me last year says he will join 'when he can afford it''.

A spokesman for the museum said he belived the driver was referring to a young and penniless Jones.

The stint ended in 1962, when Jones moved to London to focus on the band.

In an obituary, Mr Appleby said at the time: "Even recently, he asked about the Crich trams and said he would like to come back one day. With his death the world lost a pop star, some of us lost a friend, and Crich lost its Rolling Stone."

Jones was discovered in his swimming pool on July 3, 1969, and was buried seven days later in Cheltenham.

Museum curator Glynn Wilton, said: "Brian Jones and all those volunteers who gave their time and effort in the early years at Crich provided the foundation for what we have today. Looking at today's magnificent museum, we owe a huge debt to those early volunteers who often travelled long distances in all seasons to help."

The musuem will celebrate its 50th birthday this year.

The Rolling Stones were formed 1962 in London when multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart were joined by vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up.

Stewart, deemed unsuitable as a teen idol, was removed from the official lineup in 1963 but continued to work with the band as road manager and keyboardist until his death in 1985.

Early in the band's history, Jagger and Richards formed a songwriting partnership and gradually took over leadership of the band from Jones.

At first the group recorded mainly covers of American blues and R&B songs, but since the 1966 album Aftermath, their releases have mainly featured Jagger/Richards songs. Mick Taylor replaced Jones shortly before Jones's death in 1969.

Hits include Not Fade Away, Satisfaction, It's All Over Now and Little Red Rooster.