The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess Remembers Jon Brookes

The frontman pays tribute to The Charlatans’ drummer, who died last week.

Jon Brookes was one of the finest drummers ever. He drove The Charlatans from his drumstool and you could hear his love for soul, heavy rock and dance music in what he played. The Chemical Brothers went to Jon to record beats for their tracks while the rest of the dance world was sampling James Brown and John Bonham or sticking with a drum machine. He never stopped learning – he was having drumming lessons while we were recording Wonderland in 2000 – but he was good enough to impress Jim Keltner, who was first choice for Bob Dylan and John Lennon. He got to play for musicians he was a huge fan of: Johnny Marr, Paul Weller and Ronnie Wood, who all joined our band at gigs, and all became fans of Jon’s drumming.

Jon ran his own label, managed bands and played gigs drumming for harmonica legend Lew Lewis. He was a music fan above everything else and loved nothing more than talking with fans and other musicians about records and gigs. We’ve had messages from all over the world from people sharing memories of Jon – kids who’d borrowed his drumkit, drummers inspired by his style, but most of all people saying he was one of the friendliest, funniest and thoughtful people that they’d ever met.

In the last three years, since Jon collapsed on stage in Philadelphia, he had three operations on his brain. There was not much more he could take, even though he was tough – 24 years touring with The Charlatans made sure of that – but he was talking with us only a couple of weeks ago about songs he’d written for our new album. Last week we lost a brother, a friend, a band member and a huge part of all our lives.