A NORTH-East rock ‘n’ roll legend who enjoyed a remarkable career playing with some of the biggest names in music has died.
Freddie Fingers Lee, from Blackhill, Consett, County Durham, was inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis.
He played piano with Screaming Lord Sutch, in the house band at The Star Club in Hamburg - where The Beatles cut their teeth - and in the bands of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Gene Vincent.
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He was a prolific song-writer and an energetic performer who was regarded as keeping the original spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive.
Mr Lee, who was born Frederick John Cheesman, lost an eye when he was aged just one-years-old and wore an eye patch.
He starred alongside Bill Haley and Ray Campi in the 1980 rockabilly documentary Blue Suede Shoes, which includes film of him smashing his piano with an axe.
He appeared in the 1979 revival of the Jack Good TV show Oh Boy, which won him popularity in Europe where he played extensively.
Mr Lee retired from touring the UK in the late 1990s but continued to play annual charity gigs in Consett for a few years.
His sister Angela Walton said he had been living at The Greenways Care Home, Delves Lane, and died yesterday (Monday, January 13) after contracting pneumonia on Christmas Day.
Mrs Walton said her brother, who had suffered two strokes about eight years ago, had been visited shortly before his death by Joe Brown with whom he had appeared on Oh Boy.
She said: “They were good friends and Freddie was over the moon to see him.
“Freddie has had a good life, he has had a very colourful life, He was a great character . He was a very funny lad, always playing practical jokes.”
The thrice-married musician, who was single when he died, also leaves a brother, Billy, son Joseph and daughters Debbie and Holly as well as three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
After his death was announced fans from across Europe left messages on Facebook paying tribute to him.
The pianist’s friend, Jim Anderson, of Ebchester, said: “He was one hell of a piano player. Freddie was akin to Jerry Lee Lewis. He was equally as good.”
The funeral has yet to be arranged.