RIP Derek Watkins (1945-2013)

Sad to report that the universally respected and liked trumpet player Derek Watkins died last night, Friday March 22nd. He played lead trumpet on every Bond movie, and was omnipresent in the UK’s top big bands. His death comes after a battle against the rare disease sarcoma; in the last year he had tried to draw attention to the condition. Donations to Sarcoma UK – See our PREVIUOUS STORY. In sadness.

Categories: miscellaneous

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  1. This is very sad news indeed. I worked with Derek on Kenny Wheeler's 75th birthday tour and he was not only an outstanding musician and section leader, he was a very amusing and affable man to be around. He will be greatly missed. RIP

  2. BARNEY LOWE of the London City Big Band wrote this round-robin email which he asked us to publish:

    Thank you to those of you who came so see us on Sunday 24th February. It was great to be back at the Spice again after the break over Christmas!

    We will be back at the Spice of Life on Easter Sunday, 31st March, to put on one of our usual gigs. However this time, with a difference…

    Yesterday evening on Friday 22nd March, we were deeply saddened with news of the death of the great British trumpet player, Derek Watkins. Derek had been fighting Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer for a couple of years, however yesterday evening he sadly lost his battle.

    For the next Spice of Life gig, we would like to pay tribute to Derek and the great legacy the he has left behind. The whole band will be wearing his “Super-C T-Shirts”, of which thousands of people across the world are wearing in support of Derek. Also, all money from ticket sales will go to his charity Sarcoma UK.

    If you have not heard of Derek Watkins before now, I can assure you that you will have heard him play at some point. He was lead trumpet on every James Bond movie sound track, of which he started recording when he was just 17 years old. Not only has Derek recorded on every film score imaginable, he played with the BBC Big Band for decades and also performed/recorded with some of the world's most famous musicians, including Dizzie Gillespie, Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, Gil Evans, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Sammy Davis Jr, Ted Heath, John Dankworth – the list goes on. Derek helped to shape the sounds of big bands for generations, such as the Kenny Wheeler Big Band for whom he played lead trumpet for over twenty years, defining the sound of Contemporary British Big Bands. Do take a look at his website, where you can find out more about Derek and the remarkable impact he has had on generations of musicians.


    As a trumpet player myself, I can say with ease that he was my biggest hero, and I personally have been deeply saddened by the loss of this great player, as have the rest of the London City Big Band, as well as musicians across the world.

    It would be mine and the London City Big Band's proudest moment to have the Spice of Life packed with people on the 31st March. We hope to raise £500 for Derek and his charity. We would love nothing more than to see you there with friends and family. I appreciate that the 31st is Easter Sunday, however let us not forget, The Spice of Life also does a fantastic Sunday lunch which you, your family and friends can enjoy too!

    Doors open at 13:00 and music starts at 13:30. Tickets are £10/8 and can be purchased on the door, or ideally by booking in advance by following the link below;


    If you would like to make a donation to the charity but you are unable to attend, please do drop me an email to discuss this further. A donation of any size will be very gratefully received.

    Thank you very much, and I do hope to see you on Sunday 31st March, to help celebrate the life of the great British Trumpet player, Derek Watkins.

    Very Best Wishes,
    Barney Lowe

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