Sunderland musician Tony Van Frater's funeral will feature his life story in a song

Sunderland musician Tony Van Frater with his fiancee Jan Scott.
Sunderland musician Tony Van Frater with his fiancee Jan Scott.

A song he wrote about his own life will provide a sad soundtrack to the funeral of Sunderland musician Tony Van Frater next week.

The 51-year-old, who played guitar with punk bands Red Alert and the Angelic Upstarts and bass for the Cockney Rejects, died last Wednesday of a heart attack.

Tony and Jan pose for a selfie.

Tony and Jan pose for a selfie.

His funeral, which his family are calling his 'final farewell gig', will be at Sunderland Crematorium at 3pm on Tuesday, November 10, followed by the 'aftershow party' at Mill View Social Club at Fulwell.

Partner Jan Scott, 44, who had been with Tony for nearly eight years, said his family have been overwhelmed at the number of messages of support they have received since his death.

She revealed that he had been suffering chest pains a couple of days before he died, and had a check-up at the Accident and Emergency department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

"He had tests and everything was fine, but he was killed by an aneurysm in his heart. It was almost instant, and the coroner said there's no way of detecting it before it happens.

Tony pictured with his mum Brenda.

Tony pictured with his mum Brenda.

"They said that even if he'd been in hospital when it happened they wouldn't have been able to do anything about it."

Tony, who lived in Monkwearmouth with his mam Brenda, 73, used to have an ice cream van, but in recent years had been working as a taxi driver when he wasn't on tour.

He has three grown-up children by previous relationships - a daughter and twin sons - and two grandchildren, Taylor, 12, and Robyn, two.

"He'd been playing music since he was young, and got his first record contract with Red Alert when he was 15," said Jan.

Tony Van Frater had played bass for years with punk band the Cockney Rejects, and used to be in Red Alert and the Angelic Upstarts.

Tony Van Frater had played bass for years with punk band the Cockney Rejects, and used to be in Red Alert and the Angelic Upstarts.

"He'd played with the Angelic Upstarts and had been in the Cockney Rejects for years, and they were much bigger abroad than in the UK.

"When he went away it was like he was in One Direction or something, people stopping him in the street and asking to have their picture taken with him. In Japan they had to have a full security team.

"I'd known him for 19 years, and he loved the fact that I didn't know anything about his background in music. I'd only see him play live three or four times, as punk music isn't really my thing.

"When he wasn't playing, he didn't go to many gigs. He'd rather go to a quiet pub - his favourite was the Lambton Worm. We're calling the funeral his 'final farewell gig' and the wake the 'aftershow party'. It seemed fitting.

"I was with him when he died, and I still can't get my head round it that he's gone," added mother-of-two Jan, from Millfield.

"He used to be a heavy smoker, a 40-a-day man, but gave up when he was 44, as his dad died young, and I didn't want the same to happen to him. He liked a drink, but wasn't a big drinker, his blood pressure and cholesterol were fine - there was nothing wrong with him.

"It just goes to show that you never know what's round the corner. We've had messages from all over the world. People are coming from the US and Canada for the funeral, and there's busloads coming up from London."

Tony's funeral will be a humanist service, and, despite the fact he spent his life playing in punk bands, there probably won't be any punk music at his funeral.

"He loved Bon Jovi, and their guitarist Richie Sambora was his hero, and he liked a bit of U2 as well, " said Jan.

"He was making a solo album, which he was nearly finished - it wasn't a punk album. One of the songs on it, Blessed, is about his life, and that's going to be played at his funeral. It's all a bit surreal, like he'd planned it.

"One of his proudest moments was when the Cockney Rejects played at the Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas a few years ago, and Rancid, the headliners, called him onto the stage and said they wouldn't have been doing it if it hadn't been for him. He rang me at 3am to tell me.

"He became good friends with them, as he made friends easily, but that's the sort of man Tony was."

* Tony's family have asked for donations in lieu of flowers to be made to Darlington Dogs Trust, as he was a big dog lover.