THOUSANDS of music fans paid tribute to owner of the legendary TJ's bar, John Sicolo, yesterday after the club owner died in hospital at the weekend.

More than 3,400 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to Mr Sicolo's memory, while Newport-born rocker and artist Jonny Langford described Mr Sicolo as a “larger than life character” whose death would be mourned on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Sicolo died in the Royal Gwent Hospital on Sunday after being admitted two weeks ago for a knee replacement and deep vein thrombosis operation.

He had owned TJ's for almost 40 years, but the Argus reported last month that the club was struggling to stay afloat, and Mr Sicolo had started to sell off thousands of items of music memorabilia in an effort to keep the venue open.

Speaking from his home in Chicago yesterday, Mr Langford said he was deeply saddened to hear about Mr Sicolo’s death.

The musician-turned-artist had recently completed a portrait of Mr Sicolo to be sold off as part of TJ's fundraising auction and said TJs was a “vital music venue” for musicians not only in the UK, but also for American bands such as Nirvana and Big Black.

Music promoter Andy Barding said Mr Sicolo's dedication to the Newport music scene meant he was "just the kind of inspiration that a young ambitious buck could wish for".

Newport city councillor Charles Ferris said the club owner was a “proud Newportonian” who was a founding member of the campaign to save the Newport Ship, and someone who gave generously to charity throughout his life.

Tributes on the John Sicolo RIP Facebook group included one left by Phil Hill who wrote: “The world of rock owes you big time. An unsung local hero.”

Anger as floral tributes taken

MOURNERS leaving floral tributes for John Sicolo outside TJ’s yesterday said they were “disgusted” after several bouquets were stolen from the club on Clarence Place.

Melissa Ellis Williams, 39, said she left a bunch of roses outside the bar around 3pm next to five other bouquets.

She went inside to talk staff, but when she returned all the flowers were gone.

“I did not think people would stoop that low,” she said.

TJ’s events manager at Dave Kokher said: “I think it’s disgusting. Why would you take flowers left in memory of someone?”


LEGENDARY bar owner John Sicolo leaves an incredible music legacy.

Mr Sicolo died in the Royal Gwent Hospital on Sunday after being admitted two weeks ago for a knee replacement and deep vein thrombosis operation.

It goes without saying that he put Newport on the musical map.

A generation of Newport people have passed through the doors of TJ’s and all will have their own special memories.

In the last few months we had reported how TJ’s was in decline but how Mr Sicolo was determined to save it.

It was his last fight but one which he carried out with the grit and charisma he was known for.

The thousands of people who have already paid tribute to Mr Sicolo on social networking sites are testament to the man he was.

His loss will be greatly felt in Newport and much further afield.