TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular local businessman, father-of-three, and stalwart of the music scene, who has died at the age of 43 following a road accident.

Robbie Fraser was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital after his motorbike – his 2012 Christmas present - was in collision with a car on the B3390 at Affpuddle in Dorset on March 29. He was later taken to the neurological unit in Southampton General Hospital, where he died on April 2. The driver and passenger of the car were unhurt.

The former Robert May’s School student was born in Newport in Gwent to Scottish parents. The family moved to South Warnborough in the early eighties.

His earliest local music ventures included the bands Funky Liquid and Dr. Brownlove. In the mid-1990s, he formed Charlie’s Mushrooms, who played a number of festivals throughout southern Europe, notably Jazz Sous Les Pommiers in Coutances in France.

Stuart Murphy, manager of the Charlie’s Mushrooms, said: “Of course they will be remembered for their gigs. They played to a packed house at The Anvil in January 1997 where they performed The Wall. It was a fantastic show where Robbie did not dominate but rather allowed the best people to do their best work. They did this in aid of a Romanian orphanage charity. Robbie had been out there and was deeply affected by it.”

Charlie’s Mushrooms split amicably as the members settled in different towns and a performance at the Carnival Hall in December 2000 was among their last.

Shortly afterwards, Robbie moved to Southern Road where he built his own recording studio. Here he was able to explore his talents as a writer and producer and exploit his varying degrees of proficiency on guitar, bass, keyboards, flute and brass instruments. He worked on a multi-layered concept piece he called Journey to the Brown Rainbow, a fragment of which became his contribution to the 2007 compilation double CD 100% Basingstoke.

He formed a duo, Folk Me Sideways, with popular busker Darren Ness who played covers in their own raucous fashion in Basingstoke pubs such as The Bounty and The Great Western. Darren died unexpectedly in June 2009 and Robbie organised a procession of local musicians which made its way from Wote Street to United Reformed Church. Robbie played his trumpet at the service as he had done for Arthur Peploe and others.

One of the stalwarts of the local music scene, Raz, recalled: “Most people knew Robbie as a trumpeter though most of his collaborators would agree he was a brilliant guitarist.

“In 2007, he became a popular local figure at the Sunday Social open jams at the Light Lounge on London Street and his vast repertoire and gift for improvisation were spotlighted in the informal gatherings.

“Robbie set about forming a jazz band with saxophonist Andy Kennedy. They eventually became known as Lucifer Jazz & The Love Rats and staged a number of ‘Burlesque’ nights at the Light Lounge with fabulous decor, fancy dress and swinging grooves from the era of our grandparents.

“At one such event Robbie wore a ‘Tigger’ costume, at another he had the remaining hair at the back of his head shaved to spell a rude word.”

The Love Rats played the main stage at Basingstoke Live in 2008 in the slot before Chas and Dave, but the band fizzled out after a couple of years. Robbie contributed to recordings and live shows by a number of artists including Ollie Brum, J.D. & The Longfellows and Jason Gregory’s Marvels and he appears on the 2011 CD album Take Me Home.

After the break-up of the Love Rats, Robbie turned his attention to his young family and his new business venture. He set up Mouse Mat Music, which had a division called Academy Wind Instruments to import and supply instruments at prices that appealed to students.

Initially turning his home into a small warehouse, he then took business premises at Lasham which were damaged by a fire in a neighbouring unit. He moved his stock to a new site in Bessemer Road which was also damaged by fire not long afterwards.

Raz continued: “Many people have described Robbie as a ‘larger-than-life character’ and the term could have been invented for him.

“His favourite stunt was to accompany a stage act at a festival on his trumpet from the anonymity of the crowd. These unsolicited accompaniments earned him invitations to the stage from Reverend & the Makers and from the Beat. At Glastonbury in 2009 he added some spontaneous extemporisation to Jamie Cullum’s performance of High & Dry.

“In 2010 Tim Minchin actually invited him on-stage and back-stage. In another video, Minchin declared, ‘A trumpet-player saved my life’.

“His Facebook page has been inundated with tributes and messages of good will to his family. He was a father and family man, a businessman and a musician and will be best remembered as an entertainer and for his often-shocking sense of humour.

"His caustic wit did not endear him to quite everyone but life was never dull while he was around. Robbie appears in numerous Youtube videos with Lucifer Jazz & The Love Rats and others."

Robbie leaves a partner, Becky, and three children.

Some of his recordings can be found at and at