Tributes have been paid to Newport musician Richard Hopkins, of progressive rock band Blonde on Blonde.

Mr Hopkins, who was also in blues band Cellar Set, died at 75 in October 2022.

He performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969 on the same bill as the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Who.

And his first band once supported John Lee Hooker at the Majestic in Newport during the 1960s, which led to an interesting evening out with the blues legend.

He worked in the electrical trade and was a former pupil of Crindau Junior School, Brynglas Primary and Newport High School for Boys.

He was described by friend Dawn Jones as "generous, talented and fun".

Ms Jones, who dated Mr Hopkins for three years in the 1960s before he moved to London, said: "When the passing of Richard Hopkins was announced, there were many comments on social media pages such as 'Blonde On Blonde' and 'Pieces of Mind' and group pages such as 'Pictures and Memories of Newport'.

"Many were saying how they had known Richard as a young lad, along with his brother Billy and how likeable he was and how bright he was.

"One said how he had been in a band with Richard when Richard was 13 years old. Music was obviously in his blood.

"Apparently, he taught himself to play various instruments and could play by ear.

"He joined the Rogerstone and District Silver Band as a young teenager where he learned to read music."

She said: "For me, it was a loss of an old boyfriend and latterly friend. Richard and I first started dating when we were both 16 and still at Newport High School, Queens Hill.

"Rich was in the band Cellar Set at that point with Keith Milne as singer and harmonica player, Howard Kendrick on rhythm guitar, Les Hicks on drums, and Gareth Johnson on lead guitar.

"They were a very popular band. A group of us used to go to their gigs all over Newport including The Majestic.

"At one of the Majestic gigs, they supported John Lee Hooker. They (Cellar Set) and JLH, me and the rest of the gang all went back to my friend Jane's house where she had a large room of her own.

"JLH signed the wall in her room, probably painted over by now! Jane and her parents passed over some time ago and the new owners would not realise the importance!

"We had a lovely time with JLH that night and he invited us to a club in Wardour Street in London to one of his appearances so we all went to London in the Cellar Set van.

"The 60s were a fun time. Richard and I dated for about three-and-a-half years but then the band relocated to London in 1966 and eventually evolved into Blonde on Blonde, a progressive rock band and Richard and I lost touch.

"Blonde on Blonde were successful early on in their career and in total cut three albums and appeared at two Isle of Wight festivals."

Former member of Blonde on Blonde Dave Thomas said: "I joined Blonde on Blonde as their new lead singer in 1969 after Ralph Denyer, the singer on their first album Contrasts, had left to form his new band Aquila.

"The band were waiting for the option on their record contract with Pye to be taken up so that they could get working on a second album. The costs of living in London were becoming too high so they decided to return to Newport where the band could re-group.

"I was two weeks away from going to Leeds University when the offer to join Blonde on Blonde came.

"For me it was a no-brainer. I opted for life on the road with this seminal early progressive rock band. My mother was less than impressed. She kept my Student's Union card in a frame on the mantlepiece where it remained for the next eight years - like an accusatory finger pointing at me whenever I returned home!

"I had first met Richard Hopkins, Gareth Johnson and Les Hicks when they were The Cellar Set (with the inspirational Keith Milne on vocals and harmonica). They used to encourage me and my first rhythm and blues band Skid Row by getting us to play between their sets in Newport's church hall dances (while they nipped out to the nearest pub).

"I loved the blues from the beginning but the excitement of being in a rock band as successful as Blonde on Blonde were in 1968/69 was too much! I've never regretted it.

"We were playing all over the country at universities, colleges and clubs sharing the bill with some of the very best - Genesis, Wishbone Ash, Deep Purple, Colosseum, Budgie, The Steve Miller Band, Barclay James Harvest, and Roy Harper. Once we even topped the bill over Fleetwood Mac!

"Blonde on Blonde was offered record contracts with Pye, CBS and Ember Records. We signed with Ember because they wanted to get us into the recording studio quickly to record our second album Rebirth (my first) and a single called Castles In The Sky which became Tony Blackburn's record of the week on BBC Radio One just after it was released.

"We went on to perform as the house band on an experimental arts show which went out at prime-time on BBC One television. Rebirth is considered to be Blonde on Blonde's greatest album and has been reissued for more than 50 years now!

"I'm still in the music business and have had two blues albums reach the number one slot in the UK; the Top Ten in the USA and in Australia.

"I even signed my second record contract to release a rock album at the tender age of 70.

"Without my early experience with Blonde on Blonde from 1969-1972 that couldn't have happened."

Dawn Jones said: "I got married in 1969 and moved away from Newport, Rich got married in London and had 2 daughters. I wasn't aware at the time but the band had some differences and eventually Richard left the group.

"Fast forward to 1992 we had both divorced and were living back in Newport. Richard rang me out of the blue and rekindled our relationship. He told everyone he was so happy to have a second chance.

"Richard could be quite the romantic. He was in several bands over the 12 years we were together second time round and even had a home studio where we used to have great fun with our friends!

"We went to the tennis tournament at Wimbledon a few times together and whilst staying in London Richard showed me the places he lived during the Blonde on Blonde era. Mostly Putney. When I got us tickets for David Bowie at the Isle of Wight festival in 2004 Richard enjoyed telling me all about the time that Blonde on Blonde were on the bill there twice, firstly in 1968 and then again in 1969, with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Who, The Pretty Things, The Move and Joe Cocker and others.

"Richard went on to play in various bands in Newport over the years until his health and mobility deteriorated. Music was his life. I have very fond memories of Richard and was very sad when I heard from his daughter that he had passed away suddenly with a heart attack."

Mr Hopkins had two daughters - Faye Hopkins and Candice Marshall.

* Bandmate Les Hicks died in late October 2022.