Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Trumpet player Watkins dies at 68

Derek Watkins, left, playing lead trumpet with the BBC Big Band at the Maida Vale Studios, London

Derek Watkins, the British trumpet player who played on every James Bond film soundtrack, has died aged 68, his close friend said today.

The lead trumpet player, who was described by the great Dizzy Gillespie as "Mr Lead", died yesterday at home in Esher, Surrey, following a lengthy illness, Philip Biggs, editor of the Brass Herald said.

Watkins was "widely considered to be the foremost British Big Band trumpet player ever to grace the stage", Mr Biggs said.

After turning professional aged 17, he enjoyed a lengthy career in which he played with The Beatles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, the London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He also played on the soundtrack for every 007 film from Dr No to Quantum Of Solace.

He played with the BBC Big Band and performed for prominent jazz musicians Johnny Dankworth, Maynard Ferguson and Benny Goodman.

Mr Biggs described him as " a people's person - no side, no ego, a fun loving musician who couldn't get enough of life, who loved his family".

He is survived by his wife Wendy and their children, Sean, Ellie and Sarah.

Watkins was born into a brass band family and taught to play the cornet at the age of four by his father.

He then played in the band his father conducted - the Spring Gardens Brass Band in Reading, of which is grandfather was also conductor and a founder member. He also played with his father's dance band before turning professional.

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