Tributes pour in as founder of Dots Music Shop dies from a stroke
‘Unsung hero’ award-winning founder of institution that exemplified ‘Camden cool’ dies at 66
11 March, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby
IT is one of the hidden gems that have always made Camden cool, a bohemian cavern of musical instruments that has helped kickstart thousands of hobbies and professional careers.
So there was no surprise this week when hundreds of tributes followed the news that the founder of Dots Music Shop had died in hospital after a severe stroke last week.
Dot Fraser, who was 66, was described as always “warm” and “welcoming” as people remembered exploring the shop in St Pancras Way, Kentish Town, and her time teaching music.
Her youngest son, Pete Fraser, a saxophonist now living in Stockholm, said: “After 20 years of running the shop she knew thousands of people in the area, some of whom became used to just popping in for a coffee, and many of whom became friends for life who she celebrated weddings, funerals and the birth of their children with. Her personality being that she was almost used as a therapist by many.”
Ms Fraser grew up in Wales before moving to London as a young adult to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. That is where she met Noel Fraser who she went on to marry in 1977.
Dot and her husband Noel after their retirement
The couple worked as professional musicians Noel on trombone and Dot playing French horn in orchestras.
Later, Ms Fraser taught music at Kentish Town Primary School in Islip Street and Fleet School in Hampstead.
It was after this that she opened Dots in the 1990s.
Camden Council gave it a special “unsung heroes” award. She once said of the shop: “We get a fantastic mix, which represents Camden’s lively and vibrant music scene. Often they’ll be a local busker standing next to a famous musician – and a bunch of kids who come in after school.”
Scores of tributes appeared online including one that said: “Such happy memories of her heroic (and successful) efforts to mend the sax my daughter managed to drop on our stone floor three hours before her grade 8 exam.”
Pete Fraser added: “When I or anyone sat down to play with her it was clear she was one of those people for which music is effortless. She was a natural.”
Dot with Madi Solomon
In 2017, Dot and Noel retired to Whitstable, leaving their home in Rochester Terrace. They were relieved when Madi Solomon took on the shop, keeping the name.
Ms Solomon said the “lights of Camden have dimmed with the passing of Dot Fraser”, adding: “Dot was gracious, fierce, and deeply committed to family and community. She was generous in her knowledge of music and the retail business and guided me all along the way.”
She added: “We will always keep the lights on for her.”
In a social media post, Noel said: “Dot faced the life shock of her lung cancer diagnosis some three-and-a-half years ago with enormous courage, fortitude, resolution and positivity. She withstood the rigours of daunting treatments, and was able to reap their benefits. She was always keen to support those suffering similar shocks, and in her own way, became quite an inspirational figure.”
Dot leaves her husband Noel, children Jennie, Rachel and Pete and four grandchildren Elsa, Elvira, Liam and Daniel.