Derek Watkins, Trumpet Player for the Beatles, Eric Clapton, James Bond + More, Dead at 68
If you’ve seen any of the 23 James Bond movies, you’re familiar with British trumpet player Derek Watkins. The session player also sat in with Eric Clapton, the Beatles, Elton John and more during a nearly 50-year career. Watkins died on Friday (March 22) after a two year battle with cancer.
Best known for his high-note “screamers” on every Bond film from ‘Dr. No’ to ‘Skyfall,’ Wakins also dotted soundtracks for hit movies like ‘Mission Impossible,’ ‘The Mummy,’ Indiana Jones’ and ‘Chicago.’ His trumpet solo opens ‘Chicago,’ an Oscar-winning film from 2002.
For the Beatles, Watkins added trumpet to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’ on the 1967 ‘Magical Mystery Tour‘ album. His official website also lists U2, Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney amongst the over two dozen artists he’s played with. He was part of the 1996 Olympic Games, as well as dozens of other movie, television and commercial soundtracks.
“His great love for his family and his legendary trumpet playing as well as his gift of laughter and friendship will mean he will be remembered for generations to come,” a statement at Watkins website reads.
The Reading, England-born Watkins was a professional by age 17, and recording James Bond movies before the age of 20. He made an impression on icons like Dizzy Gillespie who referred to him as “Mr. Lead.” He leaves behind wife Wendy and three children, Sarah, Ellie and Sean.