St Albans trumpet star dies in crash

Rod Franks

Rod Franks - Credit: Archant

One of the country’s leading trumpeters, who lived in St Albans, was killed in a car accident in Nottinghamshire on Sunday. (20).

Rod Franks, 58, was one of three people who died in a two-car collision on the A1.

He was believed to have been travelling home from the Open Golf Championship in Hoylake and was a passenger in a Vauxhall Astra driven by a friend who suffered minor injuries in the collision with a Peugeot 206 in which two people died.

Rod, who was known to many local musicians, had performed in St Albans Abbey over a long career,

He had been a member of the London Symphony Orchestra’s trumpet section since 1988 and having celebrated 25 years service, 23 of which were as principal trumpet, he had recently requested to stand down from his position as principal but to continue playing with the orchestra.


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His death is particularly poignant because he fought back from a life-threatening illness nine years ago. Affected by diminished hearing in his right ear, he was subsequently diagnosed with a benign tumour which was successfully operated on but left him with facial palsy on the right side of his face.

But he made a near-full recovery and went on to release a solo CD to raise money for the Ronnie Moore Sickness and Benevolent Fund and the Friends of Guy’s Hospital which, by his own admission, supplied the high-tech equipment that saved his life.

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Rod was born in Shipley, West Yorkshire, in 1956 and began playing the cornet at the age of six. He went on to study trumpet at the Royal Northern College of Music before being appointed principal trumpet at the Bergen Philharmonic orchestra at the age of 21.

He was a founder member of the English Brass Ensemble and London Brass before joining the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in 1988. He also held a number of teaching posts including professor of trumpet at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music.

In an official statement the LSO said that although Rod had been beset by health issues for over 10 years, he would never allow them to compromise his supreme professionalism.

It added: “Hugely respected and immensely popular with members of the orchestra, conductors and audience alike, Rod will be missed hugely for his ever-welcoming friendliness and brilliant playing.”

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