Friday, 22 March 2013

Derek Watkins 1945-2013, The Master Trumpeter

The Professor of the Trumpet, the man who worked with them all, who played on EVERY Bond film and a thoroughly nice bloke has passed away.

Derek Watkins is the latest wonderfully talented musician to be called to the great music room in the sky but leaves behind many memories for many to cherish.

Derek was a Professor of Trumpet but never needed to display any certificate - one solo of MacArthur Park or My Way told you all you needed to know about his credentials.

He worked with some of the greats such as Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and Robbie Williams but perhaps his greatest work was in two very different genres.

Derek played on EVERY James Bond film, from Dr No as a 17-year-old in 1962 right up until the smash hit Skyfall late last year.

He was also a very well-known and popular trumpet player in the James Last Orchestra, the place I first heard the wonderful sounds of the trumpet in general.

Derek and fellow trumpeter Bob Lanese were my idols in an era before football and cricket won my affections, even when those sports did I remember the music they could create.

An accomplished soloist, Derek took centre stage during James Last concerts around the world and delivered performances which made your hair stand on end and moved you sometimes to tears.

If he was nervous he never showed it as he delivered a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s My Way to a packed Royal Albert Hall.

But then, I doubt he would have ever shown it because Derek was a showman, a master of his art who looked thrilled to be able to share his skill each and every day.

I’ve written 300 words and haven’t mentioned his numerous TV appearances! Quite simply there are too many to mention.

But if there was a live band on a TV show in the 70s, 80s, 90s and noughties, there is a good chance one D.Watkins would be in it.

Younger readers of this blog might also mention a Sky TV commercial in 2010 featuring Derek, walking across Abbey Road, made famous by a band he played with, the Beatles. Derek wouldn’t be out of place in any iconic music venue or location, he was simply one of the best.

Please honour him this weekend and next week, all you have to do is get on YouTube, type in Derek Watkins and there are hundreds of videos to watch, listen to and enjoy.

If you want to learn more about Derek, visit his website – there is much to discover.

Derek I have tears in my eyes as I write this, a genuinely lovely and talented man has again been claimed by a cruel, cruel illness.

Your trumpet may have been silenced sir, but your memory will never be forgotten. Thank you for the music Derek, may you be at peace

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