Pete de Freitas died on June 14, 1989, at the age of 27 years and 346 days. He was instantly killed in a collision on a highway in England while riding his motorcycle. He was primarily known as the drummer on the first 5 classic records by Echo and the Bunnymen, although he was also a producer.
De Freitas was a strikingly handsome young man, with the face of a model. Born in Trinidad and educated at a Benedictine school, he passed through a relatively untroubled youth, having several musically talented sisters and a brother, and became a drummer in his late teens. The other 3 original members of the group had recorded some demos of their songs using a drum machine, and had some success getting a contract. In 1979 they went looking for a drummer, de Freitas came to their attention, and was immediately hired. They recorded their first album entitled Crocodiles and released it in 1980.
Over the course of the next few years, the group with de Freitas in the drummer’s chair recorded the 5 most well-known Echo and the Bunnymen albums, today regarded as classics of the post-punk era. His drumming with the group was always praised for its power, simplicity and taste, even while the entire albums often received mixed reviews.
His only substantial break from the band followed an incident in the US in 1985. He reportedly joined the band’s road crew in New Orleans and decided to go on a bender with alcohol and drugs. He left the band after an unfriendly argument and stayed in the states for a few months. In the meantime the group had started recording a new album without him, but were unhappy with the results using a different drummer. Upon his return to the UK he expressed a desire to come back to the band, and at that point they were happy to have him, while noting his fragile mental state.
Unfortunately, big changes were in store after their 5th record was released and supported. Ian McCulloch left in 1988, and the group effectively quit as a unit. Pete de Freitas was riding his high-powered motorcycle on a stretch of English road when he collided with a vehicle and died on the scene. It is not known if drugs and/or alcohol played a part in his death, but his mental health had not been good for some time, so it may have been a contributing factor.
At the time of his death at 27 he had a daughter, and she survives, living in the UK. His remains are reportedly interred in a site in Goring-on-Thames cemetery. Echo and the Bunnymen reunited in the 90s and have continued recording and touring using the group name, even though only 2 original members remain.
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