A BELTHORN drummer known across the North West music scene has died.

Charles Hooper, 69, known as Chas, had been ill for several months, but his condition deteriorated following the New Year.

Fred Shawcross, former jazz correspondent for the Lancashire Telegraph, said music, and jazz in particular, had lost “one of its most potent forces” with the death of the drummer, bandleader, and “vociferous campaigner for the survival of live music”.

Mr Hooper was born in Dorset, but moved around the country during his childhood as his father was in the British Army.

Drums were to become a major part of his life from his early teens and, during a brief spell in London, he played at a club owned by the Kray twins.

When he arrived in the North West, he quickly became a pivotal part of the local music scene, particularly in the clubland of Bolton and Manchester.

He was a member of the resident groups at the Empress Club, in Bolton, as part of the Geoff Moore Trio, and Mr Smith’s, in Manchester city centre, where he worked with some of the biggest names in international cabaret.

In recent years he ran his own drum emporium in Belthorn village.

But he still found time to gig around the North West with his group, and those of other bandleaders.

Mr Hooper played what was to be his final gig at Horwich RMI with his quintet, the Chas Hooper Swing Band, featuring pianist Tom Steer, trumpet and flugel horn player Ian Royle, Jimmy Thomson on tenor sax, and bassist Brian Day.

He died on Monday, January 9.

Mr Hooper’s funeral took place at Pleasington Cemetery, in Blackburn, yesterday.