In Tribute: Robbie Cooper 1977-2014
A eulogy to the courageous musician, who sadly passed away on the 23rd of April
Important fact #1: Doctor of Psychology, loving husband, travelled lecturer, respected intellectual, gifted musician, DIY promoter, stand-up comedian, music enthusiast, writer, thinker, dancer and custom-built basketball gazelle Robbie Cooper was named just that: Robbie. Not Robert.
Important fact #2: Knowing Robbie Cooper in any capacity, whether as one of his many adoring siblings or one of his exponentially growing army of friends, was a privilege like no other.
Robbie passed away on 23 April, 2014, at the tragically young age of 36, after a long, brave, tumultuous battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Having already spent a number of stays in the wonderful Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh, his admittance ten days prior proved to be his final visit. At the end, after holding on for hours longer than seemed humanly possible so his brother could arrive on an emergency flight from Germany, Robbie left quietly, surrounded by his family and close friends as well as the unspeakably wonderful staff of MCCC.
Robbie's reputation as a true gentleman and profoundly endearing person, not to mention a musician of some note, was expanded during his years playing in many great bands, including Iron Crease, Geisha, American Men and his first love, Laeto. Few people in the bands and venues whose paths he crossed ever forgot the man, even after only one meeting... and that is not just because of the sight of a strikingly handsome, 6ft 6 doctor dressed in white slacks and a sky blue SEGA-style t-shirt, cramming his huge self behind a signature gaudy pink drum-kit then smashing it into next year with an unholy, Valhalla-worthy, rhythmic pummelling.
Just over 18 months into his diagnosis, already familiar with the terrific treatment and support offered by Marie Curie Cancer Care, Robbie set out to repay the organisation, arranging a series of events and releasing a compilation album under the banner Human Is Not Alone [the manifesto of which is laid out here], the title of a song by Laeto.
After his own heart, the aim, more than just raising funds for the charity, was to unite people through music and offer hope to those in need. With contributions flying in from across the planet, including works by heroes of his own such as Fugazi, Shipping News and Zu, the project went on to raise many thousands of pounds and in turn generated a huge amount of help for those relying on MCCC in similar circumstances to his.
For those of us lucky enough to be close to him, we marvelled daily not just at his intellect, hilarious patter and endless benevolence, but at how 13 significant and painful operations, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and an unrelenting diary of hospital visits never broke the spirit or kind nature of the man. Even just days prior to his death, Robbie routinely messaged loved ones across the world enquiring as to their well-being and how they were spending their day, never looking to burden anyone with the difficulties he endured.
As the final breath left Robbie's body, his brother Glenn leaned in to say goodbye with the gloriously impromptu words “Robbie Cooper, you are a fucking eagle.” Never has there been a more appropriate description or a more fitting farewell.
Robbie is survived by his loving wife Miriam and his large and justifiably very proud extended family. He will be sadly missed but even more fondly remembered.
Robbie Cooper 1977-2014