STONES CANCEL FIRST DATES OF EUROPEAN TOUR AFTER KEITH RICHARDS’ ACCIDENT

THE ROLLING STONES have postponed the start of their European Tour after Keith Richards was injured at the weekend...

THE ROLLING STONES have been forced to postpone the start of their European Tour after lead-guitarist Keith Richards (far right) was injured in an accident at the weekend.

The London spokesman for The Stones confirmed that Richards had “fallen from a ladder in the library” of his home in Westchester, Connecticut. Richards’ injuries are described as two cracked ribs and bruising to his chest area. The 54-year-old rocker is recovering at home. The spokesman dismissed as completely false today’s first media reports that Richards had broken many ribs and punctured a lung in the accident.

The Stones’ Bridges To Babylon world tour, which kicked off in Chicago last September, was due to open in Europe at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium this Friday, May 22. The gig is definitely postponed along with subsequent gigs at Munich Olympic Stadium (May 24), Gelsenkirchen Park Stadium (26) and Zagreb Hippodrome (28). All the shows will be re-scheduled.

The spokesman says the four shows already cancelled could be followed by more, although it is too early to confirm. Doctors are monitoring Keith’s condition and will advise the tour’s promoters on the expected length of his recovery. The spokesman agreed that at this stage The Stones could not be sure where or when their European tour would actually commence.

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Meanwhile, BRIAN JONES, the late founder member of The Rolling Stones, is at the centre of a political row in his hometown of Cheltenham which has caught the attention of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Pat Andrews, the guitarist’s former girlfriend, launched a campaign last March for a statue to commemorate Jones in the town he was born in, reports The Times newspaper. The Rolling Stone died in a swimming pool accident in 1969 at his property Cotchford Farm, the house where previous owner A A Milne wrote the Winnie The Pooh stories, and is buried in Cheltenham.

Cheltenham mayor Les Goodwin is aghast at the proposal. He says: “Brian Jones wasn’t a popular man. He lived in a drug culture. When you remember what this man did in his lifetime, you have to think, ‘Does he deserve a statue?’ “

The local MP for the area Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrat and apparently no relation to the Stone) sent Blair’s office details of the situation. The Prime Minister, whose Oxford university band The Ugly Rumours played Stones covers, replied with a message of his support to Pat Andrew wishing her and co-campaigners “all the best”.

MP Jones says: “We were thrilled. Mr Blair is in very good company. Marianne Faithfull also wants to recognise the enormous contribution that Brian made to the ’60s.” The PM’s support has earned him a lifetime membership of the Brian Jones Fan Club.