SHOCKED gig-goers watched in horror as a popular drummer collapsed on stage and died.
Tribute band New Age Jam were performing to a packed out crowd at city centre night spot Bar 1 when, after their set, drummer Kev Breckon suddenly died.
A member of the public tried in vain to save the 48-year-old as they waited for paramedics to arrive.
Kev, who lived with his girlfriend, is believed to have collapsed as he returned to the stage to start packing away music equipment after the gig on Friday.
Gig-goer Charlotte Hairs, 33, of Sunderland’s East End, said: “It’s dreadful to think about, absolutely heart-breaking and a real shock. You don’t expect something like that to happen in front of you.
“They band had put on an amazing set and the crowd was absolutely buzzing. It’s such a shame.”
Emily Turner, 35, of Hendon, who was also at the venue, said: “They had finished performing and people had started leaving the bar when he collapsed.
“I heard a bit of shouting and then there was a lot of commotion. It seemed like seconds later the police were there and paramedics turned up.
“They were there for a while working on him before he was taken away.”
The Jam and Paul Weller tribute act have been regulars on the North East music scene for 13 years and regularly pack out pubs, clubs and venues where they perform.
Friday’s gig had been their second of 2012 and their first in the Tunstall Road pub, which was a sell-out.
Bandmate and brother-in-law Mark Simpson, who has been playing in bands with Kev since 1996, said: “This happened completely out of the blue and there was no warning or nothing.
“He was a lovely, lovely bloke and was loved by everyone. He was always smiling and giggling and had a cheeky grin. This is a total shock.
“We put on an amazing gig and had a great night. The crowd was amazing and at least he died doing something he loved so much.”
A post-mortem examination was due to be carried out yesterday (MON) but it is thought Kevin died of a heart attack.
Staff at Bar 1 were today left coming to terms with the shock death.
A spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the family and band mates at this terrible time.
“We would also like to thank regular Andy Nicholson who carried out first aid until the paramedics got here.”
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “At 11.15pm on Friday, police received a report of concern for a man who had collapsed in a bar in Tunstall Road.
“Paramedics attended and attempted to resuscitate the man. He was later pronounced dead.
“There’s believed to be no third party involvement and a report will be prepared for the coroner.”