Dave Harper, drummer in UK indie group Frankie & The Heartstrings, has died. The band broke the sad news, writing, "We are desperately sad to announce that our dearest friend and drummer Dave Harper passed away in hospital last night. Where do we even start to describe what kind of person he was and what he meant to so many. This legend was unforgettable and we’re heartbroken over this loss."
Frankie & the Heartstrings were formed in 2008 in Sunderland, England by Harper, singer Frankie Francis and guitarist Michael McKnight, and were part of the same scene that included Field Music, Maximo Park and Futureheads. Featuring a sound influenced by groups like Dexy's Midnight Runners and Orange Juice, Harper's tight, hard-hitting style behind the kit was a key element to their sound. The band released their terrific debut, Hunger, in 2011 and made two more records. In addition to his work in the band, Harper was a tireless promoter and champion of Sunderland's independent music scene.
Tributes to Dave have poured in from friends and fellow artists. "Today we lost a good friend," wrote Field Music. "The brain and the heart behind Pop Recs, the drummer behind Frankie & The Heartstrings, the promoter whose Naked nights helped to define our era of Sunderland music and the provocateur behind a thousand insults hurled at racists on the Sunderland Echo Facebook page. Dave Harper was one of a kind but also a pretty accurate representation of what it means to be a creative person in Sunderland: driven, argumentative, atrociously judgemental, rude, contrary, with a massive chip on his shoulder and a heart of gold. You might have missed the latter trait if you’d not yet realised that all the other stuff was in part compensation for not knowing what he was doing and a niggling sense that a lad from Murton shouldn’t be allowed to do this sort of thing. He will be missed by many people and he’ll be missed by us."
The Futureheads wrote: "Dave was the best of us all: caring, compassionate and loving. We will miss him with all our hearts. The tributes will rightly flow for his tireless work promoting, supporting the arts and fostering a sense of community. But to us, above all else, you were our friend, the Murton legend, Pearl."
"Dave was a dynamo on and off stage, and a true champion of independent grassroots music," wrote The Cribs, while The Charlatans' Tim Burgess called him "a force of nature." Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals said it's "hard to imagine a world without his enthusiasm and passion, I’ve never met anyone like him," and Frank Turner wrote, "Always a friendly, welcoming person, who did amazing things for independent music in the north east."
Rest in peace, Dave. You can listen to some of his music and read a few more tributes below.