Family pay tribute to St Albans trumpeter who contributed to iconic music

Rod Franks (far right) with his family

Rod Franks (far right) with his family - Credit: Archant

A ‘superstar’ husband and dad was how his family described leading London Symphony Orchestra trumpeter Rod Franks following his death in a car accident earlier this month.

Rod, 58, died in a two-car collison on the A1 in Nottinghamshire on Sunday, July 20, on his way back from the British Golf Open in Hoylake near Liverpool.

He and his wife Dot moved to St Albans in 1984 and had two children together, Becky and Mike. The couple met at a brass week in Lancashire in August 1975 and married in St Helen’s two years after Rod, who was appointed principal trumpet of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 21, had moved to Norway. With his new bride, he returned to Norway for the next five years

Becky was born in 1982 and two years later the family returned to England and settled in St Albans. A year before Rod joined the LSO as principal trumpet co-chair with his former mentor and close friend Maurice Murphy, Mike was born.

Rod’s family described him as having a real passion and energy for his work and particularly enjoying being part of the LSO. It was in that role that he played the trumpet for iconic pieces of music including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and, more recently, The Monuments Men.

Mike said: “Dad really emjoyed his career and was so proud of his work, particularly his involvement with the Star Wars music.”

In 2002 Rod had a brain tumour removed and of particular importance to him was a performance of Vivaldi’s Trumpet Concerto with Maurice Murphy at the Barbican Centre which marked his return to music after the operation.

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Among the crowd was the surgeon who operated on him and Mike said: “The concerto was a big piece of music for dad as the soloist. i remember just before the concert started, one of dad’s front teeth came loose and fell out.

“He looked at me, shoved the tooth back into position and said, ‘don’t tell anyone about the tooth’ and then went out and gave one of his best performances.This summed up dad; nothing ever stopped him from delivering.”

Outside of work Rod had a number of hobbies including watching golf, supporting Leeds United FC and spending holidays abroad with his family. He was also a grandfather to Becky’s son Harrison, aged two and a half. Becky said: “Harrison worshipped his grandad, he was like his shadow. If dad was in the room he would get all of Harrison’s attention, mum and I didn’t get a look in. It was mutual love.”

Dot, who with her family described Rod as ‘a superstar in every sense of the word’, remembered her husband as “a kind, generous, funny, loving and a typical Yorkshire man,”adding “We will all miss him.”