4:11pm Tuesday 29th July 2014
By Charlotte Ikonen
The family of 58-year-old Roderick ‘Rod’ Franks, who died in a car crash in Nottinghamshire on July 20, has paid tribute to their "superstar".
Rod was a renowned trumpet player and lived in St Albans with his wife Dot. The couple had two children together, Becky and Mike.
Rod joined the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988 and from 1990 he shared the principal trumpet chair with former mentor and close friend Maurice Murphy before Maurice retired in 2007.
Prior to this in 2002, Rod was awarded the Coat of Arms by the University of Huddersfield for his services to music and later, in 2011, he became Honorary Doctorate of the University. Rod was also a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Rod was a passenger in a Vauxhall Astra which was involved in a crash with a Peugeot 206. Both occupants of the Peugeot, a man and woman from Tyne and Wear were pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Franks was taken to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham where doctors confirmed his death.
His family described Rod as having a real passion and energy for his work, expressing that he particularly enjoyed being part of the London Symphony Orchestra. It was in this role that he played the trumpet for iconic pieces of music in many films, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and, more recently, The Monuments Men.
Mike said of his father’s work: "Dad really enjoyed his career and was so proud of his work, particularly his involvement with the Star Wars music."
Other highlights of his career included playing Vivaldi’s Trumpet Concerto with Maurice at the Barbican Centre in London. Rod’s family has strong memories of this performance as it marked his return to music following his recovery from having a brain tumor removed in 2002.
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 and supporting Leeds United Football Club.
Rod was also a grandfather to Becky’s son, Harrison, aged two and a half. Becky said of their relationship: "Harrison worshipped his granddad, 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 a mutual love."
Dot remembers her husband as a "kind, generous, funny, loving and a typical Yorkshire man."
She said: "We enjoyed socialising in the brass band world and would often go to contests together.
"We will all miss him and I would like to express my thanks to my daughter and her husband Richard and my son and his wife Terran as they have been extremely supportive."
Mike added: "Dad was a great storyteller. He had a dry sense of humour, was quick-witted and would tell the best one-liners. He was always smiling."
The family all agreed: "He was a star. A superstar. In every sense of the word. He was the most strong and determined person in all aspects of his life. He battled through some terrible times but always in an extremely dignified manner, he was determined to let nothing stop him. He was the definition of bouncebackability."
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