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Tributes to veteran Norwich rock drummer

PUBLISHED: 10:22 15 December 2010

Tributes have been paid to a veteran Norwich rock and roll drummer who has died at the age of 60.

For more than 40 years John Thirkettle was a stalwart of the city’s rock and blues scene, playing with a number of groups, including Albert Cooper’s Blues and Boogie Band and backing many veteran American blues stars when they appeared in Norwich.

A funeral service for Mr Thirkettle will be held at Earlham Crematorium on Friday.

Mr Thirkettle, a father of two from Thorpe Park, Norwich, was today described as a “brilliant” rock drummer by the man whose band he had played in since the mid 1970s.

Albert Cooper, 77, said: “You get various drummers. John was more of a rock drummer, keeping the beat and keeping time and he was brilliant at keeping time.”

Mr Cooper said he was saddened to hear the news of the demise of his former drummer, who together with the rest of the band have become well known to music lovers in the city over the years.

He said: “We played everywhere. We did a lot of gigs around the city – I think we played at every pub in Norwich.”

Julie Paston, manager of Brambles in Exchange Street, who attended Norwich Art College with Mr Thirkettle in 1970, said: “He was a friend for 40 years and a work colleague with me here at Brambles for 30 odd years.

“I’m absolutely gutted. I still saw him regularly - every other week. He was in such good spirits when I saw him a few weeks ago, it was such a shock when I got the phone call.

“He was so much a part of our building her. He was never once late or lost his temper or ever swore. He was an amazing, kind, calm person. He was a great rock drummer and an amazing framer too. He will be so missed. It’s going to be a very sad day on Friday.”

Tom Carver, who lives at Haslips Close, Norwich, said he was always grateful for the support Mr Thirkettle gave him as a drummer in his younger years.

He said: “John’s drumming was never flashy or obtrusive. He was more concerned with laying down a solid and dependable backdrop to the music he served, rather than satisfying his own ego.

“As an aspiring drummer, of sorts, with no drums, with the newly formed Vital Disorders, I was always grateful for his kindness and generosity in loaning me his kit, when so many musicians can be a little precious about their instruments.

“As his former employer in ‘the day job’ said to me: ‘He was a gentleman to everybody he met.’”

<t> Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one? Call Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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