Jon Lee (drummer)
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28 March 1968|
Newport, Monmouthshire, UK
|Died||7 January 2002
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Associated acts||The Darling Buds, Feeder, Raindancer|
Feeder and early career
Feeder were formed whilst Grant Nicholas was a producer, before moving to London to gain more experience. He had already met Lee in Newport who moved down afterwards. They formed a band named Raindancer, who despite winning a TV slot on ITV Central never gained a record deal. Shortly before this, Jon was a member of Newport band The Darling Buds, although only appearing on a couple of b-sides of the "Sure Thing" single. Raindancer's split saw bassist John Canham part ways with the band, before Simon Blight followed soon after when they reformed as Hum, which was changed to Reel, before then changing their name once again to Real when Hirose took over bass duties in 1995. The band signed to The Echo Label in November of that year, before changing their name to Feeder, with their debut single proper "Stereoworld" reaching number 128 in the UK charts in October 1996, while the second single "Tangerine" reached number 60. The first full-length album, Polythene, was released in May 1997. Produced by Chris Sheldon, it charted at number 65 in the UK and was certified Silver for sales over 60,000 copies in 2003 when the band had already broken through. Metal Hammer magazine included it in its Top 20 Albums of 1997 list at number 1.
The follow-up album, Yesterday Went Too Soon, was produced by Nicholas. Released in August 1999, the album was a much quicker commercial success than its predecessor (entering the UK album chart at number 8 and certified Silver in 2001, with this being upgraded to Gold in 2003). The title track was the band's first UK Top 20 hit.
Two years later, the band released their third and also breakthrough album, Echo Park. Produced by Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, The Pixies, Echo and the Bunnymen and James), the album peaked at number 5 in the UK and was also certified Gold, but in its release year, before going Platinum in 2003. It contained their debut Top 10 single "Buck Rogers".
In 2002, when Jon took his own life, the band kept out of the public eye, until the album was nearing its completion. The first play of its lead single "Come Back Around", was the first time since Jon's death that the band made any public appearances and released new material. The single charted at #14, while the follow-up "Just the Way I'm Feeling" made the Top 10, both singles appeared on their fourth album Comfort in Sound, also produced by Norton, which although charting one place lower than Echo Park, became their first Platinum seller. The album featured Mark Richardson of Skunk Anansie on drums; he parted company with Feeder in 2009, to return to a reformed Skunk Anansie. An instrumental demo of "Come Back Around" was recorded before Jon's passing, with lyrics written later on by Nicholas. After Jon died, they were rewritten for the final version which Mark Richardson played on, keeping close to the original instrumental demo recording Jon made with the band.
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Feeder decided to continue, with Grant Nicholas saying, "Jon would have wanted us to carry on." Former Skunk Anansie, B.l.o.w. and Little Angels drummer Mark Richardson helped the band out on drum duties for 4th studio album "Comfort In Sound" before being made a permanent member for follow-up album "Pushing The Senses" in 2005. Richardson later returned to a reformed Skunk Anansie in 2009, before Karl Brazil took over the drum stool. Nicholas later claimed that the chemistry he feels between himself and Brazil, is very much the same way that he felt with Jon.
With an increasingly successful music career, a supermodel wife and a young son, Lee's death was a surprise to the public and sparked a massive reaction in tributes to the drummer.
Lee's funeral took place at St. Mary's Church, Newport, on 18 January 2002, where thousands of fans showed up alongside family and friends to pay their own respects. Matt Page, Feeder's manager, read Do not stand at my grave and weep, as requested by Jon Lee's father, Norman.
Feeder's 1997 single "High" was also played during the ceremony which heard Grant Nicholas say this about his much missed friend:
Jon had such a taste for life, which makes this whole thing such a mystery to us all. He could be the life and soul of any party. Yet, quiet, sensitive and understanding to anyone that needed a friendly ear. I always felt there was a raging fire in his soul which he channelled into his drumming; showing no fear to anything he put his hand to.... Hope you are at peace now, Jon boy. Forever young. Your friend always.
The band's first official live appearances after Lee's death was at the Reading/Leeds Festivals, which saw Grant dedicate "Quick Fade" to "absent friends". The band were invited by Melvin Benn, the owner of the festival to headline the first day of the main stage, before turning down the offer as they did not want to play such a high-placed slot so soon after Jon's death, so requested to play a much more low-key slot headlining the second stage. In 2003, frontman Grant Nicholas dedicated the band's win for "Best British Band" at the Kerrang! awards to Lee, calling it the award he always wanted the band to win. In 2006 the band released a singles album, entitled The Singles in which Jon features on many of the album's tracks. The album quickly became a platinum seller.
In 2006, an unreleased and incomplete 1998 recording named "Uptight" was released as a b-side on the "Lost and Found" single, with Grant Nicholas recording the track's final vocals eight years after the initial 1998 recording. The song features Jon Lee on drums.
Feeder's 2012 album Generation Freakshow features the track "Hey Johnny" which is written in dedication to Jon Lee.
- "Feeder drummer dies". BBC News. 9 January 2002.
- "UK | Wales | Feeder singer regrets 'suicide call'". BBC News. 2002-08-04. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
- "report of the suicide". BBC News. 2002-01-09. Retrieved 2011-10-21.