TRIBUTES have been paid to one of Edinburgh’s best-known punk musicians, who has died aged 51.
Fritz Van Helsing was an active figure in the Capital’s music venues, helping emerging singers and groups gain exposure and recognition through his Full Moon club and fanzine.
The Inverness-born drummer, DJ, writer and promoter also battled drug and alcohol addiction – contracting hepatitis C as a result of heroin use in the 1980s.
But family members have said that Mr Van Helsing “did everything to stay alive” in the final months of his life.
“Some people may not have been aware that he’d stopped drinking for 16 to 18 months – and he’d been off heroin for about 20 years,” said Mary Van Helsing, who married the musician in 2008. “He was always warning young people not to go down that road.”
Mr Van Helsing, who was also suffering from cirrhosis of the liver at the time of his death, was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on February 13 with blood poisoning but died at around 7.30am two days later.
“I was shocked when he had to go to hospital,” said Mrs Van Helsing. “He’d been on antibiotics for years and we thought that would be protecting him, but the doctors told us that blood infections just happen and there’s nothing you can do.”
Mr Van Helsing was born in Inverness, where he attended Millburn secondary school. He moved with his family to the Oxgangs area of Edinburgh when he was 16.
The name Fritz Van Helsing was adopted by the musician, who was a huge fan of Hammer horror movies. Family and friends remembered him as a creative, eccentric individual.
Sam Barber, 28, a member of the band FRAK with Mr Van Helsing from 2003 to 2004, said: “He had a habit of putting duct tape on the surface of his drum kit.
“It sounded horrendous but he insisted that was the sound he wanted. As if he wanted it to sound really cheap and nasty.
“Most people you speak to in the Edinburgh music world will tell you that he did a lot for the scene.
“In terms of living the rock and roll life on a minimal budget, he took it about as far as you can. He was a punk first and foremost – it was his whole life.
“He had this fanzine he’d been keeping for years, putting on gigs and getting out to see gigs as much as he could. He ran the Full Moon fanzine for a long time. He’d go to a lot of festivals up and down the country.”
Rosie Bell, who was in a relationship with Mr Van Helsing between 2000 and 2005, said: “He really wanted to encourage people to do music. He would write reviews in his fanzine and, if it was some starting out band, he wouldn’t ever rubbish them. He would try to say the best he could about them. He liked bands that would show humour.”
Mr Van Helsing is survived by his widow Mary and daughter Jet.