Paul Dufour obituary

Other lives: Drummer who played with the rock band the Libertines in the 1990s

My brother, Paul Dufour, who has died aged 74 from cancer of the brain and lungs, was a sought-after musician, who, in his 50s, became the original drummer with the rock band the Libertines, fronted by Pete Doherty and Carl Barât.

Paul joined the Libertines in 1997 before they became famous. As a new, unrecorded teenage band, they needed a drummer, and the recording engineer/producer Gwyn Mathias, a friend of Paul’s, suggested him to them. He left the band after two or three years, but in 2014 worked with Doherty again, accompanying him – on cajon drum – at two venues (including the O2 in Oxford) when Pete was doing a solo tour with just his guitar.

In the early 90s, Paul had co-founded a recording studio, Odessa Wharf, in Rotherhithe, south-east London, with Gwyn. He played drums with many bands, and particularly enjoyed his time – from 2004 to 2017 – with a small jazz combo called Venus Edge, led by the pianist Anthony Donovan.

Paul Dufour once backed the comedian Tommy Cooper, who admired him for the precision of his drum rolls
Paul Dufour once backed the comedian Tommy Cooper, who admired him for the precision of his drum rolls Photograph: provided by family

With his friend Philippe Janoyer, he composed and recorded an unreleased ambient music CD called Visions of Rhythm in 1999. He also backed the comedian Tommy Cooper for two weeks at a club in Birmingham; they got on well because Tommy loved Paul’s precision in the drum rolls. Even when ill in his last months, he continued to play, appearing on two punk-style albums of the singer Clive Franklin.

Born in London, to Violet (nee Camp), a waitress, and Frederick Dufour, a lorry driver, Paul attended many schools, as our family often moved because of housing and financial challenges. While he was at primary school in Norwich, I bought Paul his first toy drum set from my paper-round money. He continued from there, with a professional drum kit during his secondary school years. He went to art school in Norwich to do A-levels, then on to Coventry School of Art to do a general art course, but dropped out to concentrate on music and performing.

For 10 years, during the 1980s and into the 90s, Paul worked for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK), as a driver, transporting staff, and animal parts for research, while also negotiating appearances at gigs and concerts.

Paul had a long-term admiration for Airto Moreira, the Brazilian jazz percussionist who joined the Miles Davis band when he arrived in New York from Brazil, and for Airto’s wife, the singer Flora Purim. We often went to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and chatted with Flora till the early hours. He recorded an unreleased single with their daughter, Diana Purim, also a singer.

Although their marriage ended in divorce, Paul’s former wife, Michele, remained his closest friend, becoming, effectively, his carer. He is survived by Michele and her son, Max, and by me.

Barry Dufour

The GuardianTramp

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