Jamie Freeman passed away yesterday.
I first met Jamie as a fellow web-nerd way back in the early 2000s when I was freelancing here in Brighton. I did a lot of work with him and his design studio, Message. Andy was working there too. It’s kind of where the seeds of Clearleft were planted.
I remember one day telling them about a development with Salter Cane. Our drummer, Catherine, was moving to Australia so we were going to have to start searching for someone new.
“I play drums”, said Jamie.
I remember thinking, “No, you don’t; you play guitar.” But I thought “What the heck”, and invited him along to a band practice.
Well, it turns that not only could he play drums, he was really good! Jamie was in the band.
It’s funny, I kept referring to Jamie as “our new drummer”, but he actually ended up being the drummer that was with Salter Cane the longest.
Band practices. Concerts. Studio recordings. We were a team for years. You can hear Jamie’s excellent drumming on our album Sorrow. You can also his drumming (and brilliant backing vocals) on an album of covers we recorded. He was such a solid drummer—he made the whole band sound tighter.
But as brilliant as Jamie was behind a drumkit, his heart was at the front of the stage. He left Salter Cane to front The Jamie Freeman Agreement full-time. I loved going to see that band and watching them get better and better. Jonathan has written lovingly about his time with the band.
After that, Jamie continued to follow his dreams as a solo performer, travelling to Nashville, and collaborating with loads of other talented people. Everyone loved Jamie.
This year started with the shocking news that he had inoperable cancer—a brain tumor. Everyone sent him all their love (we recorded a little video from the Salter Cane practice room—as his condition worsened, video worked better than writing). But somehow I didn’t quite believe that this day would come when Jamie was no longer with us. I mean, the thought was ridiculous: Jamie, the vegetarian tea-totaller …with cancer? Nah.
I think I’m still in denial.
The last time I had the joy of playing music with Jamie was also the last time that Salter Cane played a gig. Jamie came back for a one-off gig at the start of 2020 (before the world shut down). It was joyous. It felt so good to rock out with him.
Jamie was always so full of enthusiasm for other people, whether that was his fellow musicians or his family members. He had great stories from his time on tour with his brother Tim’s band, Frazier Chorus. And he was so, so proud of everything his brother Martin has done. It was so horrible when their sister died. I can’t imagine what they must be going through now, losing another sibling.
Like I said, I still can’t quite believe that Jamie has gone. I know that I’m really going to miss him.
I’m sending all my love and my deepest sympathies to Jamie’s family.