Alan Hopkin: 1934-2020 – A lifetime in the music trade

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We are sad to report that Alan Hopkin passed away on the 28th May aged 85 following recent illness. Here are some fond memories of Alan’s life working in our wonderful industry, written by Alan’s son, Mark Hopkin.

Born in 1934 to Harry and Elizabeth (Nancy), Harry was a professional musician and before the war took up the role as shop manager for Jack Brentnall’s new shop in Derby. They lived in a flat above the shop, so from such a young age, Alan was already part of the local music community. Alan was taught saxophone and clarinet by his father. In the early/mid 50’s, Alan joined the Sherwood Foresters as an 18 year old bandsmen and was mainly based in Germany for 3 years. Following de-mob he undertook various office based jobs in Derby, but still played in local dance bands, including a stint as a pro musician with the Ray McVay band.

He married Terry in 1958, but he was never happy about the mundane duties of an office based job. By chance, a bus trip to Nottingham in 1962 resulted in him applying for  a job advertised in the window of Clement Pianos, for a salesman to run the newly opened department selling ‘group gear’. He instantly took to this role, yet knew more was possible within the MI Industry.  In 1964 he was offered a job as representative for James T Coppock of Leeds to handle the southern territory. At the time major accounts included Bill Greenhalgh, Eddie Moors. Plus he was present when Anderton’s first opened in Guildford and fondly recalls dealing with Lee’s granddad (Harry) and dad (Pete). In 1966 he was offered a job by Barnes and Mullins, as representative, for the territory from Sheffield to the north of Scotland, plus NI – Major accounts at the time included McCormacks, Hamiltons of Teeside, Kitchens, Banks and Schearers

During all this time his father, Harry Hopkin had stayed employed in a retail role within Derby and eventually set-up his own business in the mid 60’s, utilising an established name in the town – Wisher Derby Ltd. Come 1974 and Harry was both nearing retirement and finding issues with his health, so he asked Alan if he would be interested in taking over the shop. The timing felt right to Alan, so he purchased the business from his dad in 1974. From there the business quickly expanded from a small single unit, that was old and tired, to a vibrant business with 7 showrooms covering the traditional band side of the business and the rock side of the business.

1978 and his oldest son Mark joined the business straight from school and the business continued to flourish, with strong sales within the local community, as well as UK sales via Melody Maker adverts. 1986 and after a few years of illness Alan’s wife, Terry, died aged 49. A year later and following a period of disillusion within the trade Alan and Mark accepted an offer to sell the rock side of the business to Keith Woodcock and Carlsbro Retail, plus sell the traditional band side of the business to the Neville Brothers in Derby.

At the same time, Alan kept the violin side of the business for himself, following a new relationship with Elaine, who later became his second wife. Alan started his new retail business based from home – Alan Hopkin Violins – specialising in quality used violins and dealing predominantly with various violin teachers and relevant students/parents. He remained with this business until a year or so ago when ill health prevented any further activity at the age of 84

Alan has played in various jazz, dance and big bands throughout his life, mainly as a sax player . In later years he assembled a small combo to play popular jazz based classic and in doing so raised £1000’s for local charities. Music has been the large part of his life from nappies to death. Other interest included walking, history, geography, reading novels and entertainment based biographies

Alan is survived by Elaine, 3 children and 2 step children . Many may well know Mark Hopkin, his eldest son, who has worked in the MI industry from the age of 18, including a senior role within Academy of Sound and now with his own business Guitars4You.

He was a popular member of the MI industry, but sadly many of his close friends within the industry have also passed away over the years, and likewise many of the old accounts he use to deal with

There is a lot of knowledge within the industry that has died along with him. Alan recalls time spent with Ivor Arbiters dad, Joe, as well as Ben Davis, and many other early pioneers within the industry