Charlatans’ Drummer Jon Brookes Dies, Aged 44

Funky, life-loving sticksman had battled with a brain tumour, but hoped to finish 12th album.

Charlatans’ Drummer Jon Brookes Dies, Aged 44

IN 2012, THE CHARLATANS played their 1997 Number 1 album Tellin’ Stories in its entirety at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Two years earlier, following a seizure on tour in Philadelphia, their drummer Jon Brookes had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Despite major surgery, Jon had opted to carry on playing with the band and that night he was on a high, lost in the moment. “That was mega,” he said afterwards, backstage. “It’s always great to be performing. I just love doing our thing.” “Our thing” defined Jon Brookes. He loved The Charlatans, loved playing in The Charlatans and loved drumming. Jon sadly died this morning, finally succumbing to the brain tumour. He was just 44. The news was imparted by an announcement on the band’s website.

Jon Brookes, helping to define Britpop in 1995.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Jon Brookes, the drummer with The Charlatans, died this morning aged 44… He passed away peacefully in hospital early this morning with his family at his bedside.

“Jon was a brilliant drummer, an inspiration, a founding member of The Charlatans, part of our family and a friend to everyone in and around the band. Losing someone who was always so full of life is a tragedy that will be shared by so many. Our thoughts are with Debbie and all of Jon’s family.” – The Charlatans.

Charlatans singer Tim Burgess tweeted “Jon Brookes, my friend, our drummer and inspiration to so many, passed away this morning. We are torn apart. Love & thoughts to Jon’s family.”

Brookes was the co-founder and drummer with The Charlatans, the Northwich/Black Country band who first rose to prominence in the baggy era with 1990 single The Only One I Know and debut album Some Friendly.

“Jon was a brilliant drummer, an inspiration.”

The Charlatans

Brookes’ drumming, part Clyde Stubblefield, part Kenny Jones, part Reni, was an integral part of the group’s sound, his tight, fluid beats connecting with friend and Charlatans’ bassist Martin Blunt’s pulsating rhythms to provide a thrilling soulful groove that drove their songs. The pair had first played together in The Gift Horses, alongside former Prisoners’ singer/guitarist Graham Day and Makin’ Time’s organist Fay Hallam.

When The Gift Horses disbanded, Blunt and Brookes founded The Charlatans, their most successful line-up completed by frontman Tim Burgess, guitarist Mark Collins and keyboardist Rob Collins – who sadly passed in 1996, to be replaced by Tony Rogers.

Brookes notched up 11 albums with the group, including the chart-topping The Charlatans (1995) and Tellin’ Stories (1997), which helped define the Britpop era. Their most recent album, 2010’s Who We Touch, saw them collaborating with Crass’s Penny Rimbaud. Work had started on its follow up, with Brookes taking an active role in the sessions. He will be sorely missed.

Remember him this way, helping define the “baggy” groove on The Only One I Know…


…and here, opening and closing the promo video while laying down the Faces-y shuffle of The Charlatans album’s Just Lookin’…