John Lever, the longmtime drummer for Manchester post-punk favorites The Chameleons and spin-off groups The Sun and the Moon and ChameleonsVox, died this morning following “a short period of illness,” his longtime musical collaborator Mark Burgess announced on Facebook.
“We want to offer our sincere and deepest sympathy to John’s mother, his sister and his two children at this terrible time,” the Chameleons frontman wrote on his Facebook page this morning. “Obviously I’m shocked at the news and consequently I’ll be offline for a while.”
Levers, a key component to the band’s thick, powerful sound, replaced original drummer Brian Schofield shortly after The Chameleons formed in 1981. He joined singer/bassist Burgess and guitarists Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding. The band would release three classic albums during its original run: 1983’s Script of the Bridge, 1985’s What Does Anything Mean? Basically and 1986’s Strange Times.
The drummer also joined Burgess in the Sun and the Moon, which released a self-titled record in 1988, and reunited with the Chameleons in the early 2000s, and played with Burgess later in the decade under the ChameleonsVox banner. Burgess continues to tour and record with ChameleonsVox, but Lever hadn’t been part of the latest lineup. Most recently, Lever had re-teamed with former Chameleons bandmate Dave Fielding as The Red-Sided Garter Snakes.
Further details of Levers’ death are not yet known.
Below, check out Lever in action with the Chameleons in an hour-long live set from 1982.
Video: The Chameleons, Live at the Gallery Club (1982)
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS
- Mark Burgess records unfinished Chameleons songs for new EP, announces U.S. dates
- ChameleonsVox performing ‘Script of the Bridge’ on North American tour in 2015
- ChameleonsVox to play ‘What Does Anything Mean? Basically,’ ‘Strange Times’ in Manchester
- ChameleonsVox to perform ‘Script of the Bridge’ in U.K., Europe this spring