By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The line for suspected killers of Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones forms at the left.
As conspiracy theorists salivate over the British police's recent decision to look into Jones' drowning 40 years ago, the band's former road manager on Monday accused a deceased World War Two veteran of killing the ill-starred virtuoso.
Sam Cutler pointed the finger at Tom Keylock, the band's former chauffeur. Keylock allegedly coaxed a death-bed confession 16 years ago out of his friend Frank Thorogood, a builder who immediately became the pundits' prime suspect.
While there is no hard evidence linking either man to Jones' death in his own swimming pool, Cutler said Keylock acted suspiciously in the ensuing days, removing or destroying items at Jones' house.
Moreover, he disclosed that Keylock was the only suspect in a hitherto-undisclosed private investigation launched by the band's Allen Klein, who had little confidence in the British police.
"He investigated Brian's murder with all the resources he had available to him and Klein thought that Brian had been murdered," Cutler wrote in a blog posting (www.gimmecutler.com). "Tom Keylock was the prime (and only) suspect named in that report."
In an interview with Reuters, Cutler declined to say how he found out about the Klein report, but he said he met with Klein many times in the year after Jones died.
KEY PLAYERS ALL DEAD
Keylock, who was never formally interviewed by the police, died in London on July 2, aged 82. According to obituaries, he saw action at the Battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands in 1944. Klein died in New York two days later, aged 77.
Representatives for Klein's ABKCO Music label and for the Rolling Stones declined comment.
The official verdict on Jones is "death by misadventure."
Despite being a strong swimmer, he drowned shortly after he was ousted from the Rolling Stones following years of erratic behavior fueled by drug abuse and insecurity. The autopsy revealed that he had ingested large amounts of drugs and alcohol, and his liver was twice the normal weight. He was 27.
Thorogood was staying with Jones at the time, along with two women. Keylock initially claimed he was not there, but Cutler said he later admitted that he had been.
Thorogood, who died in 1993, was fingered in two books published the following year, "Paint It Black: The Murder Of Brian Jones" by Geoffrey Giuliano and "Who Killed Christopher Robin?" by Terry Rawlings. (Jones lived in Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne's former home).
Thorogood either "snapped," according to the alleged confession cited in Rawlings' book, or accidentally held Jones underwater for too long during horseplay, according to Giuliano.
But Cutler, immortalized in the Stones documentary "Gimme Shelter" trying to rein in the Hells Angels at the disastrous Altamont concert in 1969, said Klein's investigators suspected Keylock after interviewing the two women. Both were too afraid to testify against him, Cutler said, and Keylock initially claimed that he was never at Jones' house at the time.
A potential wrinkle in Cutler's argument is that both women also fingered Thorogood. One of them, Jones' girlfriend Anna Wohlin, blamed him in a 1999 memoir. Testimony from Lawson, who recently died, is believed to be at the crux of the report currently being perused by Sussex police.
Cutler said both were terrified of Keylock, who threatened them with violence. He spirited Wohlin back to her native Sweden within days of Jones' death.
A spokesman for the Sussex police said the report, from investigative journalist Scott Jones (no kin to the musician), has been examined by a senior detective but is not high priority.
Keylock's motive is unclear. "My gut feeling is that he was ripping Brian off on some level or another," said Cutler, who was also questioned by Klein's investigators. His alibi held up, as he was preparing the band's free concert in Hyde Park.
Cutler's theory got some support from Mandy Aftel, author of the 1982 book "Death of a Rolling Stone: The Brian Jones Story," who thought Jones was murdered but could not work out a motive.
"Sometimes there isn't a 'why.' Or, I think one thing leads to another and before you know it something has happened but you didn't plan on it," Aftel told Reuters.
(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)