A LEGENDARY Hampshire drummer who played for some of the greatest stars of his generation has died – hours after marrying his partner on his deathbed.
Roger Pope, who played with Rod Stewart, Elton John and Paul McCartney, died from cancer after tying the knot with Sue Tressider.
Sue, 60, who met Roger 18 years ago, said they decided to marry at the last minute in Southampton General Hospital when he realised there was not much time left.
She said: “He said we would not be able to, but a nurse overheard and she said it could be arranged.”
Within minutes she was on the phone to the registrar and within the hour a judge agreed it could be done.
Sue said: “He was obviously dying and asleep, drifting in and out, and I woke him to say we have to get married and he came to life and rallied round.
“We did the vows and he was really happy, with a great big smile on his face.
“Then I was his wife. A short time after, I was his widow.”
Roger’s sister Diane Wynell- Sutherland, 64, said Sue had helped her brother battle drink.
She said: “ Roger thought he was going to die at 44 but she kept him alive until 66.”
Born in Whistable, Kent, in 1947, Roger moved to Sholing, in Southampton, where he had recently moved back to.
While an Itchen Grammar School pupil he joined a band called The Countdowns and later toured with the Soul Agents.
A young singer called Rod Stewart joined Roger and his pals and they became Rod Stewart and the Soul Agents.
Meanwhile Roger mixed within the emerging rock scene, becoming close friends with The Who’s drummer Keith Moon, who was his best man at his first wedding.
In the late 1960s Roger was asked to drum for an unknown singer called Reg Dwight – who later changed his name to Elton John.
He remained with Elton until 1970, after which he continued to be a rated session drummer. He even turned down Paul McCartney’s offer to join post-Beatles band Wings.
In 1975 he rejoined Elton at the pinnacle of his career, drumming on hit songs such as Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and Island Girl.
He remained with Elton’s Rocket Records in the 1980s.
Biographer Keith Haywood, who has chronicled Roger’s early days in a book called Tin Pan Alley, said: “When he was in a room full of people he was like a magnet and everyone wanted a piece of him and he gladly gave it.”
The funeral, which is open to everyone, is at Wessex Vale Crematorium Southampton on Monday, September 30 at 1pm. A wake will be held at the Brook in Portswood Road.