“And you like shine like a star...” Wolverhampton Civic Hall 1995. Tim Burgess preens and pouts to a rapturous crowd, all anorak, lips and B&H. Behind him, Jon Brookes belts out the rhythm, sweating but with a huge grin on his face. We WERE all little stars. All my best mates where at the same gig, at the same time, as me. Only we didn’t know each other yet.
This morning, I learned on Facebook (where else?) of the death of Jon Brookes. He died of a brain tumour aged just 44. I was, and am, pretty devastated. Jon was a fine drummer (check out Feel Flows, The Bell and the Butterfly and Thank You. You won’t hear better drumming anywhere). He was also a genuinely great human being, funny, sweet and totally without any rock star bullshit. Some of his last work was teaching kids in drum workshops around the Midlands. You won’t find many rock stars doing that.
And he was a rock star, number one albums, huge gigs, hit singles, Top of the Pops, the lot. The Charlatans get something of a raw deal these days. Not as hip as the Roses but not as unhip as the Inspirals. One thing I am proud of is we have always stuck by The Charlatans. We (me and John Kertland, who met Jon and has nothing but great thing to say about him) played The Only One I Know at our club night just Friday night. The record is seen as a bit naff these days, a bit ‘indie disco’. It’s an OK record to like, but only on the quiet. Luckily, John and I are bit long in the tooth to worry about cool these days.
We played The Only One I Know because it’s a fucking great record. It still sounds amazing and people still dance to it. It’s an evergreen, like Satisfaction or I Want You Back or This Charming Man or Babies or Emma’s House or whatever. When Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died, people started playing the Beastie Boys again, lighting the flame in tribute. To us, the flame of The Charlatans never ever went out.
The Charlatans have a long line of bad luck and horror stories. I have no idea if the band will carry on after the set back of the death of another original member. One I thing I do know is the thought of never seeing Jon Brookes do the drum solo for One to Another fills me with sadness.
We all need love, we are doing the best that we can, but some of us are still looking for the orange one. Rest in peace Jon. x