Our Book of Remembrance
We wish to celebrate the lives of all those who have been an integral part of the SMG family. Whether as students, tutors or members of our staff and board, we are grateful for all they did for us and join with you all in mourning their passing.
We invite you all to leave a comment, a note of remembrance, for Simon below:
As we can’t meet in person to remember Simon we’ve set up this page where you can leave memories and stories. You can also respond to other comments.
We’re very sad to hear of the recent passing of Simon Cooper. Simon had attended mixed instrument groups with SMG for several years. He was an accomplished and thoughtful musician who was always quietly supportive of class activities, but every so often his sense of humour and fun would emerge. We knew Simon as a concertina player, but as you can see from the photo he had a wider musical career. We send our condolences to his family and friends.
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SMG folk will remember Simon as playing anglo concertina or latterly mandolin. But starting from 1960’s student days, his main instrument was melodeon (along with guitars and sundry English concertinas). I first knew him as the driving force of his ceilidh band ‘Hopscotch’ playing the melodeon, or the ‘Phil Spectre Wall of Sound’ as we called it. In the mid ’80’S I joined Hopscotch as the token hammer dulcimer player. We made a demo tape – our audition to be one of the resident ceilidh bands at Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1990 – which they accepted. Listening to it now, after a gap of many years – I can’t believe how fast we played..! I’m thankful for over 30 years of music, love and companionship. RIP Simon. Carole xxx
Just to add to the more formal bit I wrote for the top of the page…I’m sorry I didn’t know more about Simon’s pre-SMG exploits – one of the downsides of having a big class! But it was always a pleasure to have him as part of the group, and my thoughts are with all the good friends he had at SMG. Sarah x
I remember Simon as a man of dry but perceptive wit. A stimulating companion.
My sincere condolences.
Simon was a fellow concertina player and musician of much talent. He gave freely of his expertise and wealth of musical background. I much enjoyed spending time with him and loved to hear him laugh with his head tossed back! He will be sorely missed by family, partner and friends, and stoically dealt with his health issues. He was indeed, Simon the Hero. With love, Nicola x
Simon was simply a lovely gentle man. He had a ready smile and I will miss his amusing quips from his position behind me at Sarah’s Tuesday morning mixed instrument class. RIP Simon!
I knew Simon as a fellow member of Sarah’s SMG class a while back, but more recently as a participant in our weekly Zoom sessions which started last summer and are still continuing since, with mainly people who have in the past attended Sarah’s Tuesday am classes. Simon introduced some lovely tunes to our sessions, especially the much played and requested hornpipes. I wish I had known more of his melodeon-playing past, albeit that he probably had a differently tuned box from mine! And being myself a regular attender at Sidmouth Festival (husband a native of Sidmouth!), it would have been great to see Simon and Carole before we ever met in Edinburgh! Thanks for your music, Simon! Lots of love, xx
Simon was a lovely gentleman who was always supportive of SMG, classmates and was a regular at our sessions in the Canongate. I will miss him, his music and his company hugely. God speed Simon
I knew Simon through Carole. They came every year recently to see in the New Year with some songs and tunes at my house. A really gentle man with a fine sense of humour. He was important for one of my oldest friends, Carole who was there for him throughout his illness. We are poorer without him. I hope you give him few good tunes to send him on his way. Alison Bramley
I met Simon and Carole through attending Sarah’s Tuesday morning mixed instrument class and got to know him better through our in house summer meets and later our zoom sessions. He was a lovely man and being a fellow melodeon player we had much in common and plenty to chat about. I just wish I had got to know him sooner. I’ll miss his music and his company very much and I’ll certainly continue to play the wonderful tunes he submitted to the group. RIP Simon. Sandy Frain
Simon was a regular at our weekly session. Although he wasn’t the noisiest person at a session, he most certainly wasn’t insignificant, and could be depended upon to give the definitive answer to typical session questions like “what was that tune called ?”. It was always a pleasure to have him there and his neighbouring musicians would have the pleasure of his company, his knowledge, and that occasional laugh of his.
A few of his playing friends got together today to play some tunes for him at his funeral reception. It felt just right, and we’re sure his spirit was in our music.
We’ll all miss you Simon.
I first met Simon many years ago when he was a very active member of Edinburgh Folk Club and, if I recall correctly, he was also the Vice Chair for a period. He along with some of the other regulars there was very welcoming to me when I first started going along to the club which was held in The Carlton Hotel at the time.
For many years, we lost touch but I was pleased to see him again enjoying his music at The Canongait Sessions on a Wednesday night.
Sincere condolences to Carole and all of Simon’s family and friends. John J
I am very sorry and saddened to find out about Simon’s death. I knew him (and his ex-wife Lynn) back in the 1970’s when they were members of the Edinburgh Folk Club and I was the club’s secretary. Nice folks and keen folkies. I think Simon was EFC’s vice-chair for a while after I stepped down from the committee to run the Edinburgh Folk Festival – although my memory is vague. But a nice guy. I bumped into him a year or two before lockdown during the Fringe at the Acoustic Music Centre and we had a pleasant wee chat and catch up. Yes, a sad passing.
My memories of Simon go back many years, to when I first saw him playing for the Lothians Morris Men on a snowy April day (1973?) at the West End of Edinburgh. Since then, many shared experiences always of a musical nature. In 1989 a mad visit all the way to Caithness to celebrate Hogmanay with crofting friends. In 2015 I dragged him out of Morris Musician retirement, bells and all, to play for our local dramatic society’s performance of Dad’s Army, on the stage of the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles He would always, cheerfully and undemonstratively, rise to the occasion. And since then of course as a regular member of SMG classes and a reliable presence at the Canon’s Gait sessions. He will be much missed. Bye bye Simon. Another tuneful sparrow has departed the lighted mead hall of life. Les Morss
I first met Simon over 30 years ago, probably when he, along with Carole, Philip, myself and a few others, held weekly sessions in a very small room at the Oxford Bar, before it was made famous by a fictional detective. I have recently been reminded that most of the participants were musicians from Edinburgh’s two Morris sides, Lothian Morris and Jenny Geddes. In those days I could play less than half a dozen tunes and had to content myself with playing banjo accompaniment, while admiring the extensive repertoire of tunes being rattled off by everyone else. We played for a few ceilidhs that followed annual dinners of the Jacobites Mountaineering Club (because some of us were members) and even did a St Patrick’s night gig in Edinburgh. I suppose it was my first real participation in Scottish trad music. Of all the sets that we played, the one that sticks in my mind from that time was the polkas – Dennis Murphy’s and John Ryan’s, with Simon really thumping out the accented bits on his melodeon. To this day, that is the way that I now play them and whenever I do, I am reminded of Simon in the Oxford Bar.
In more-recent years, we have played together in SMG classes, at the Canons’ Gait, in informal sessions in people’s houses and in the many and varied other musical opportunities that the SMG opens up for us. His quiet companionship, gentle wit and extensive but unassuming musical knowledge have contributed so much to those occasions and it was an honour to be asked to play some of his favourite tunes and sets at the gathering after his funeral this week. Throughout the 40 minutes or so that we played, I really felt that his spirit was there with us, playing them all for one last time.
I first met Simon in the Teviot Row Union when the Edinburgh Folk Festival was based there, probably around 1980-81. It was during the decade that followed that I got to know him more through the wonderful medium that is music. We played regularly in a session on Tuesday nights in the Oxford Bar in Thistle Street after Jenny Geddes clog dancers had finished their practice and would play until gone midnight. He had a steady hand on both the melodeon and (at that time) English concertina and kept us all playing together at a regular tempo. I can still picture him now, steadying the ship under the watchful eye of the dog playing pool in the picture on the wall of the back room. My memory is that he liked hornpipes, which suited me and on those evenings it seemed that we played almost every Northumbrian hornpipe ever composed.
Barbara and I also made the memorable trip North to Caithness in 1989 for hogmanay that Les has referred to elsewhere. We stayed in the same croft as Simon and Carole. The weather was balmy; we were sitting outside on New Year Day eating breakfast not feeling the cold at all. We had an amazing time playing music and drinking whisky overnight in what seemed like every croft in the hamlet of Upper Gills near John O’Groats. Not content with playing on hogmanay we did it again the night after. It was just great.
I almost lost touch with Simon in the early nineties, as I stopped playing for the best part of twenty years. However, after my retirement, and after joining Sarah’s Tuesday class, he took me under his wing and helped me settle into the class. I sat beside him thereafter until lockdown.
Rest in Peace Simon
Philip and Barbara