Sunderland musician Tony Van Frater dies at 51

Tony Van Frater, a Sunderland musician who played with punk bands Red Alert, Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects, has died. Photo: Rainer Knpper, Free Art License (http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/)
Tony Van Frater, a Sunderland musician who played with punk bands Red Alert, Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects, has died. Photo: Rainer Knpper, Free Art License (http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/)
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Tony Van Frater, the guitarist with Sunderland punk band Red Alert, has died, reportedly of a heart attack. He was 51.

He was a mainstay of the group, who were formed in Sunderland back in 1979 and went on to tour nationally and internationally.

He also played with the Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects, and was one of the most respected figures in the North East punk scene.

Tony - real name Anthony Frater - was a founder member of Red Alert, who made three studio albums and released several singles which reached the UK Indie Charts Top 30.

Red Alert broke up in 1985, reformed four years later and continued touring and occasionally recording.

Meanwhile, Tony, who was known as 'Tut', played with South Shields band Angelic Upstarts, and, since 1999, with the reformed Cockney Rejects.

Away from music, he used to have an ice cream van, and it is believed he had recently been working as a taxi driver.

Tributes started flooding in today on social media sites.

Rebellion Punk Music Festival, where Tony played with both Red Alert and the Rejects, posted on Facebook: "Terrible news this morning. Tony Van Frater has passed away overnight.

"The founding member of Red Alert and Cockney Rejects bass player was one of the scene's true gentlemen.

"His talent and friendship will be missed by many. RIP big man - our thoughts are with your family and friends."

Red Alert singer Steve 'Castiron' Smith wrote on his Facebook page: "Best mate, brother, legend, thanks for the memories son, see u up there."