'Music was his life' - tributes paid to The Downsetters founder

Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic of The Downsetters, who has died aged 52

Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic of The Downsetters, who has died aged 52 - Credit: Os Mie

Tributes are pouring in for a leading Ipswich musician and "local legend" who has died aged 52.

Stan Stanojevic, who died after a short battle with bowel cancer, founded well-known Ipswich ska and reggae band The Downsetters and had performed at Glastonbury and around the world.

Fellow band member Reece Sleightholme said: "Stan was a local legend who lived for our band and his local studio on Silent Street, The Audio Lab.

Stan Stanojevic, left, of leading Ipswich band The Downsetters

Stan Stanojevic, left, of leading Ipswich band The Downsetters - Credit: Shaun Singleton

"Many local bands have recorded and rehearsed at his studio, and have all experienced a positive influence from Stan - he was all about passion.

"There have been an enormous number of tributes, love and support towards Stan, not just from our local music scene, but nationally and internationally."

Originally from Serbia, Stan moved to Ipswich as a two-year-old with his family. Reece said his father was an accordion player, so he grew up with music.

While at school, the guitarist became friends with Jason "Jay" Roberts, who later joined him in The Downsetters, and the two shared their passion for music.

Tributes are being paid to Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic

Tributes are being paid to Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic - Credit: Os Mie

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"The entire class took classical music, and they were the only two who wanted to do something a bit more rock and roll," Reece said.

Stan's musical career carried on from there, bringing together ska, reggae and punk.

Reece said he was strongly influenced by The Specials, and wanted to carry on where they had left off.

"He built his own studio at home, and he was creating his own music there under the name The Downsetter."

This attracted a lot of interest, and Stan was approached by the Coaster Scooter Club in Ipswich.

His bandmate said: "They assumed it was a band, and said, could we book you? He said yes."

Stan then had to get a band together, and put together a line-up including his old school friend Jay as drummer and Reece on keyboards.

Tributes are being paid to Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic

Tributes are being paid to Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic - Credit: Os Mie

The other members included lead singer Henrall Ford, who also played with Ska'd For Life, Trevor Jones on trombone, John Ralston on bass guitar and former member Andy Sampson.

"We all got drafted in and played that one gig - then that led to more and we built up a good local following," Reece said.

The Downsetters soon became very popular on the thriving Ipswich and Suffolk ska scene.

"It was all through Stan's passion and his drive. We have always been originals. He was our main man, songwriter and manager," Reece said.

A big break came when the band went along to play at the St Moritz Restaurant in Wardour Street, London.

"It was a midnight start and none of us was feeling motivated, but Stan said the guy who ran it might approach us to play Glastonbury," Reece said.

Tributes are being paid to Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic

Tributes are being paid to Ipswich musician Stan Stanojevic - Credit: Shaun Singleton

"He was the only one who believed it would happen, and it paid off."

The Downsetters went on to perform at the legendary festival for three years, from 2014-16.

As their reputation grew, they also played around Europe, including in Germany, Poland, Belgium, Austria, the then Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Stan had suffered from Crohn's disease for 25 years, but although the condition can be debilitating, his friends and family say it never held him back.

The musician died on September 18, and leaves family including his mother, brother, son and daughter.

His brother, Sid, said: "He was a really genuine, nice man, and cared for others before himself. He had lots of friends."

He said he thought Stan would be really shocked by the number of tributes that had been paid and all the nice comments people had made.

"Music was his life and that's what he lived for."    

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